Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What A Year

I can not believe it has been a whole year since the boys were born! This year has been filled with so many ups and downs. It is so sad how quickly the boys are growing up, I miss my little 3 and 4 pound babies. They have both developed into such fun little boys. I can't help but think back over the past year and I am just amazed we have all made it through everything, but it has all made us much stronger. Let's see, where to begin.....

It all started with a car accident. When my car was totaled so I have to find a new job. This brought me to work at Dogwood Acres which is where I met Ben. We quickly were attracted to each other and started dating. That quickly moved into getting engaged and living together (November 2006). In January I found out that I was pregnant which was a huge surprise. Little did I know there was an even bigger surprise waiting for me at 11 weeks...I found out I was pregnant with twins. The thoughts that went through my head at that moment were fear and "what have I gotten myself into". Ben and I then had our courthouse wedding on April 5, 2007. At our reception at The Melting Pot we announced that I was pregnant with twins and everybody was shocked! Then onto the pregnancy, what an adventure that was. I had to stop working with the dogs and move up front to a desk job because the boys were growing bigger and bigger inside of me. Then at 18 weeks we had a scare when the OB found I was already starting to efface. I went onto modified bed rest at about 20 weeks and had to stop working. Then at 21-22 weeks I was 1 cm dilated, I was so scared! I then tested positive for the FFN test which says I would go into labor within 2 weeks! At 27 weeks I started to have contractions and was hospitalized. They tried many different medications and finally found one that worked to stop the contractions. Through all of that I still had not dilated past 1cm which was good news. They were going to keep me in the hospital until I delivered, but I wanted to go home so badly. They agreed to let me go home as long as I stayed on strict bed rest. I was so much happier being at home and was able to eat better and stay in better spirits. Although the bed rest was very difficult. Things were going OK until at 30 weeks my OB found I was then 2cm dilated and she said it probably wouldn't be long before I went into labor again so they sent me home with pills to stop contractions if they started. At about 3am on Sunday August 5, 2007 I woke up thinking I had peed the bed. I went and changed, laid down only to find more wetness. Then I realized my water had broken and I was so scared! I called my mom in FL and my sister in CA to find out if they thought it was my water even though I knew it was. I called the OB and they told me to go to Labor & Delivery at the hospital. When I got there they tested the fluid and it sure was amniotic fluid. They got me admitted and put in a catheter and planned to try and stop labor again. But at about 8am they decided it was not going to stop and that was going to be the boys birthday. I was so scared, but knew they would be in good hands at the NICU. I was wheeled down to the OR with Ben that morning. At 8:41am I heard Zak start crying and thought that was the best sound ever, he was alive and breathing on his own. Then at 8:43am they said Ryder was born, but I didn't hear him cry. After a few minutes Ben went and saw the boys then came back to tell me they were both OK. Ryder was put onto a ventilator, but he was alive and moving around. The nurse brought Zak over to me while the OB was closing me up, I got to kiss him which was amazing. Then they wheeled Ryder by me, but all I could see what all of the tubes and a blanket which Ryder was wrapped up in. I went into recovery while Ben went with the boys to the NICU. He took lots of pictures and then met me in my room to show me. I was so upset about how small they were (4lb 2oz and 3lb 1oz), but I knew they were alive and in good hands. Everybody in the family took turns to go to the NICU with Ben and see my boys, it was heartbreaking to know I would be the last one to get to see them. If I had half a brain at that time I would have asked for nobody to see them until I got to, but oh well. Finally at about 4pm that afternoon I got into a wheelchair and went to see my babies. I was able to hold Zak and it felt amazing, I was a mom! Then I saw Ryder and was just so upset that he was hooked up to the ventilator and couldn't home him. I then spent much of my time in the NICU with the boys and then was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday. That was the hardest day of all, I had to leave my boys behind. Thank goodness we only lived about 15-20 minutes from the hospital. I then made 2 trips a day to the hospital for a few hours each time. The 36 days that the boys spent in the NICU seemed like an eternity. The day we got to bring them home was amazing, we sat them on their bedroom floor then looked at each other as couldn't believe the adventure we were in for.....

Zak: Our first born. He came out screaming. In the NICU he encountered a small bout of NEC, but it was healed with antibiotics and no surgery. He also had the "normal" apnea of prematurity (forget to breathe) and low heart rates. Other than that he spent the 36 days learning to eat and then growing. When we brought him home from the NICU he weighed just under 5 pounds. Since he had been having the apnea they sent him home on an apnea monitor which would alert us if he stopped breathing. This did happen a few times in the beginning, but he did outgrow it pretty quickly. In the beginning he looked a lot like Ben, but as he has gotten older and lost the baby-look he is looking more and more like me. We have had 2 significant health issues with Zak in the first year. In February 2008 Zak started wheezing. We spent many days at the pediatrician's office, specialists, and getting tests done. They finally made the diagnosis of asthma which is treated using an inhaler and occasionally a nebulizer treatment. I am very glad we came to find the diagnosis and that it is easily treatable. The second medical encounter we had with Zak was in May when he spent the night in the ER at University of Maryland Medical Center due to pneumonia, double ear infections, and conjunctivitis all from Haemophilus Influenza non-type able. This was a big scare, but we caught it early and he was fine after 2 weeks of antibiotics. He had his circumcision surgery the end of April and it went great, no problems. Zak is now trying to walk, but has not yet taken any steps on his own. He has mastered crawling which means he is now into everything. He is such a good eater and loves to feed himself.

Ryder: My little itty bitty man. He was so small when he was born. It killed me to see him on the ventilator the first time I saw him. Luckily he was only on the vent for about 24 hours. Other than that he had some blood pressure issues at first, but those were treated with medication. He also battled a few infections during his NICU stay along with the "normal" apnea of prematurity (forgetting to breathe) and low heart rates, but just like Zak he also outgrew it after coming home. When he came home from the NICU Ryder weighed about 4 pounds and also was on an apnea monitor for a while. Ryder has a more in-depth medical history than Zak which we are still working on diagnosing with him. He was born with hypospadias, chordee, and ambiguous genitalia. We had chromosome testing done on him and found he has an extra "X" chromosome. At that point they diagnosed him with Klinefelter's Syndrome, but referred us to a geneticist. We finally got an appointment with the geneticist at John's Hopkins Children's Hospital. At that appointment they looked through his history and also did a very intense physical exam of him. After all of that they decided he does not have Klinefelter's, but they do not have an exact diagnosis for us at the moment. We have been getting testing done on him the last few weeks including a hearing test (which he passed) and a full body skeletal survey. We still need to get some more blood work done and he has an MRI scheduled for August 18. Once all of the test results are in we will go back to see the geneticist and hopefully have a better idea of what Ryder has. She said even with all of the tests they may not be able to give us an exact diagnosis. As for other medical issues Ryder has encountered, he got very sick the end of April. On April 30 he was admitted to North Arundel Hospital with pneumonia. The next morning we got a call saying he has gotten much worse overnight and needed to be transported to University of Maryland Medical Center so we rushed to the hospital (Ben's mother had stayed with him overnight). When we got there the transport team was working on him and then told us he needed to be put on a ventilator! So we had to leave the room while they intubated him which was so hard. We followed his ambulance to UMMC and got him settled in the PICU. As i stood there holding his hand I just had flashbacks to his NICU stay. They had him sedated so he wouldn't pull the tube out, but the boy was fighting it so they had to start using higher and higher doses of the sedatives. It was a VERY long 11 days that he was on the vent. Finally he improved enough to come off the vent, that was such a good day. Little did we know he would still be in the hospital for another 2 weeks! He was transferred out of the PICU and onto the regular peds floor. And then he was transferred to Mt. Washington Rehab Center to finish his weaning process from the medications he had been on. This whole ordeal lasted for 4 weeks from beginning to end. In that time Zak was only able to visit Ryder twice, it was heartbreaking! But I am so glad that Ryder is alive and doing great with no lasting effects of his illness. He is scheduled for his surgery to correct the chordee and hypospadias along with being circumcised on August 25.

These boys have definitely kept us busy in the last year! But it has been well worth it. Now for some pictures of how much they have grown.

Zak in NICU

Zak now

Ryder in NICU

Ryder now