Saturday, July 28, 2007

March Of Dimes-WalkAmerica 2007

As I'm sure everyone has read, we are the ambassador family for our town. With that huge honor comes the responsibility to help raise money so the March of Dimes can continue their research, therefore continuing to save babies.

Did you know that premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death and the biggest threat to babies health today. Prematurity can take a baby's life or compromise his or her health for a lifetime. It has reached an epidemic proportions in the U.S., endangering the lives of more than half a million babies each year. And that number is escalating.

Every year, more than 120,000 babies in the U.S. are born with birth defects. The causes of about 70 percent of these are unknown. To find answers, the March of Dimes invests millions of dollars annually to research to discover ways to prevent birth defects that can disable a child for a life time.

The March of Dimes supported advances in the treatment of premature babies, like surfactant therapy and specialized care in neonatal intensive care units(NICUs),have helped thousands of premature babies survive and thrive. Babies like Kolton and Karter who both received the life saving surfactant as well as spent 48 days in the NICU.

With that said, in the next 24 hours, more than 1,350 babies will be born too soon. Many will have to fight to survive. Some will die; others will face serious health problems like cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, and mental retardation. With your support, there is hope for saving future babies from premature birth.

So you see it's important for continued funds for the March of Dimes. Now that my children are thriving and growing daily, it has become my new mission to educate those, who like me, may not know that this is going on. It is very real and very important. Important to those families that are listed on my sidebar, important to mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and grandparents. Important to those tiny little lives that lay in isoletts waiting to breath on their own, waiting to grow.

Our area will be having their walk on September 28th starting at 5:30pm. Come join us, meet us, see our boys, see what the March of Dimes helped to save. If you can't walk with us please donate, any amount is fine it all goes to save babies. I have set our goal at $1,ooo. I hope to exceed this. You can donate on line by clicking here or by clicking the sponsor me button on the top of my page. You can join our team to walk online as well. If you would like to donate the traditional way, by cash or check, let me know in the comments and I will get you my email or address or arrange to meet you somehow. I hope to see you all there!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Request

I have a request of everyone. I know this blog is supposed to be about our children and the goings on in their lives, but in a way it is one of my children that needs your prayers. It just happens to be one of my first born, my furry child, Rufus.

Rufus has something wrong with his liver. The Vet is not really sure what and we have some bile bloodwork that we are waiting on results for that will hopefully tell a little more, like whether his liver is functioning correctly at all. Rufus has been sick for awhile. After working at a vet clinic for 5 years I actually suspected Rufus had diabetes. He had gained some weight and was drinking a lot. A week or two later when I took him in, he actually has lost weight and began to get listless and just didn't look good. That's when we discovered he was anemic and his liver panel results were off. Well now his has some sort of infection according to the blood work and it's not looking good. Anyway he needs your prayers for him to get better and for us if it is time to be able to make the hard decision to let him go.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

1 year update

Kolton and Karter are doing very well according to the doctor, both are on the charts for their height and weight. The doctor said both are in the normal range for 1 year olds. Yah! Way to grow boys.

Kolton: His weight was 22lbs, his head was 47.3 and height was 30in. The only thing that has come up with Kolton is that we believe he may have asthma. It started about 2 weeks ago. I began to notice when he became upset, for example if he didn't want to take a nap and I left him in his bed he would began to cry, then cough, then wheeze. I began to notice this with more frequency when he played hard or cried hard. Last Wednesday he kind of scared me. I was vacuuming and he was crawling around chasing me and running away from the vacuum, when I was finished he was coughing, breathing hard and wheezing. This "attack" lasted longer than any of the other ones and I began to think I might have to run him into the doctor. About 20 mins later he breathing returned to normal. Our appt. was on Friday, he seemed fine and resumed play so I discussed it with the doctor on Friday. The doctor did indeed hear wheezing in his lungs so we now have Albuterol to use for 5 days and then not again until he has another "attack". I hope this is just infant asthma and leaves as he gets older, of if it stays it does not hinder what he wants to do, such as sports or running or playing. We are praying and keeping our fingers crossed on this. Kolton still only has 6 teeth, I don't feel anymore breaking through, he cruises like a pro and can stand, I know he can, on his own but is scared to do it so always sits down and then crawls. I don't think it will be much longer and he will be walking, he just has to get more confidence in himself. He sleeps through the night. They goes to bed between 7:00 and 7:30 and wake around the same time. We have a pretty good schedule going and they seem to agree. The only thing we are working on is naps. Most times they don't want to nap in the morning which is fine with me because they will take a longer afternoon nap. However, if they do nap in the morning than afternoon naps are all messed up and then they are super tired early in the evening. I would eventually like for them to take a longer nap in the afternoon, so I can have a little time as well. They kinda call the shots on this, but I'm working on it. Kolton babbles all the time, we are not sure what he is saying but he seems to know. He can say Bye, Daddy, Mama, Nannie or Nana or Nanie, not sure which one for which person, all gone, uh-oh and yay. He loves to scream and squeal, to the cat mostly, which scares the cat to death and he is almost always a happy boy. He has started crying if I leave the room and will follow me from room to room. He eats what we eat, just cut up very small and the only thing I noticed he does not like is eggs, nothing about them or anyway I have cooked them. Same with Karter not too fond of them either. Well he doesn't seem to like milk very much either, but we have just begun to introduce that so hopefully he will come around to it.

Karter: He weighted 20.8lbs, his head was 45.7 in and he was 29 3/4 in tall. He does not seem to have asthma, although I would have figured he would be the one to get it, due to his BPD and having to be on oxygen for longer than Kolton. I'm glad he seems to have escaped it so far. Oh my little Karter, he does have such a stubborn, strong personality. His daddy says that it comes from me, not sure how I feel about that. He knows what he wants and if he does not get it he becomes stiff and kicks his feet or hops up and down and of course cries. We call it gyrating, basically he gets really pissed off. He has no patience, which he will have to learn. Other than those time which don't really happen that often, yet anyway, he is a very happy little boy. He is also cruising everywhere, but just like Kolton is uneasy without support from a hand or object. I'm sure it will only be a matter of time for him as well. Karter likes to nap better than Kolton, but he is doing the same thing with his naps as Kolton is as well. We just need to work on those. Like I stated before we have a pretty good schedule worked out. Bed 7:00-7:30 up at the same time, breakfast 7:30 or 8:00, lunch 12:00 or 12:30, nap if they take it 12:40 or 1:00 to 2:00 or 3:00, supper at about 5:15 and this is when they want to eat, they get really cranky, bath or so at 6:00 or 6:30, play time with mommy and daddy in the floor for an 30 mins to an hour then they settle down began to get sleep and go to bed at 7:00 or 7:30. We used to rock them to sleep, but now they would rather lay in their bed with a bottle and doze off. They hardly ever fuss. I am quite proud of the schedule, it works and they are usually well rested and happy kids.
Karter still wakes up once or twice during the night wanting a bottle. I know this is habit, one we will have to stop or he will be a night feeder when he is older and I don't want this. We have begun to work on this as well reducing the amount of formula he gets. He is not going to be happy and we are going to have rough few nights I can already tell, but it will be better in the long run. Speaking of formula the doctor said they really don't need it anymore and should drink milk or something else instead. While that is our goal and I don't want to take it away cold turkey just yet we will do it gradually and up their milk as we do it. They do drink water and juice from a cup already. He eats what we eat as well and likes milk and really likes chocolate milk. Karter now has 8 teeth.

Both boys are such a joy and getting more fun everyday, they are happy and healthy. Whenever I'm out people always comment on how well behaved they are, and they really are good kids.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Speech

This is the speech I gave at the Kickoff meeting yesterday. Today they had the boys and my picture on the front page of the newspaper, however my picture was not too good. Of course I was talking so I looked stupid, oh well.

Hello, I’m Brandy, 2007 Ambassador Mom and mother to two adorable one year old boys. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to share with you their story, their struggles and their triumphs. We are honored to be this years March of Dimes ambassador family.
Before the boys came along, I had heard of the March of Dimes I knew they helped babies, however I didn’t know to what extent they helped them or all the research they have done. Unfortunately, I would find out the hard way. In January 2006 my husband Jimmy and I found out we were pregnant, we were excited and scared. We experienced all the normal feelings a couple feels when they learn they are to become parents. On February 28, 2006 on my first doctors visit, we found out we were having twins; we were shocked and very excited. Although, we had not thought of twins we where very happy to welcome two little ones to our family. My pregnancy progressed normally with no problems until June 23, 2006. I had been really tired that day and was feeling what I thought was the babies “balling or bunching” up. I know now that they were contractions. Fortunately, I worked in my OB’s office so I was able to be seen right away. I found out that I was in fact dilating. My greatest fear had come true. I was in pre-term labor. At 26 weeks and 3 days I knew it was way too soon for my little guys to enter the world. Sure I was excited and anxious to meet them, but I wanted to do so under better circumstances. I was immediately sent to the hospital and started on medications to stop my contractions. When it was thought that the medications might not work, I was medi-flighted to a hospital that had the capabilities and equipment to handle infants that are born pre-term. After an intense 4 days on all kinds of medications to stop contractions and labor, it appeared that the doctors and the medicine had succeeded. I was however told to expect to stay on hospitalized bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. After 10 days in the hospital it seemed that all had calmed down and it was decided that I would be sent home with strict instructions to rest and not move around much. I did this for two days, and then I noticed that one of the babies was not moving around as much. I called my OB office and was told to come in. At that visit it was found that one of the babies was very low in the birth canal and it was best to be sent back to the hospital. There I stayed for 6 more days and then again was sent home for two days on strict bed rest. On July 17, 2006 one day shy of 30 weeks, my water broke at 5:00am I was rushed to the hospital once again that was equipped for pre-term births. I was once again given medications to stop my contractions, however since my water had broken, the doctors felt it best, for my labor to continue if the medications did not work. At 10:50 that morning the contractions intensified and I was rushed to the OR to deliver. At 11:30am Kolton Wayne, twin A was born by natural delivery. Twenty-seven minuets later at 11:57 Karter James twin b was born by c-section. I did not even get to see Kolton, but they held Karter up for me to see for a few seconds before he was whisked away to do life saving procedures on him. Jimmy and I were so scared. We knew they were small but didn’t know at that point how small. Once everything calmed down and I was recovering in my room we were told that Kolton weighted 3lbs 1oz and Karter 2lb 11oz. I was unable to see them until very late that night.
After all numbing medications wore off and I was able to stand on my own I was allowed to go by wheelchair to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU to see my babies. When we arrived it was very late, we were required to remove all jewelry and scrub our hands up to our elbows with soap and hot water for 1 minute. We would have to do this each time we entered the NICU. The first baby I saw was Karter. He was very small and pink. He had a tiny diaper on him. As I looked him over I noticed that the cartilage in his ears were not completely formed yet, I had read about this in one of my many books about babies and what to expect about their growth at 30 weeks. He was hooked up to the ventilator which was breathing for him because his lungs where not yet developed enough to breath on his own. He had wires and tubes all over him and he was hooked up to a machine that would alarm if his heart rate went too low or too high, if his breathing slowed too much or if his oxygen saturation was too low or too high. Through all the tubes and wires I saw a beautiful baby boy that I was so in love with. Next I was taken to see Kolton who was in another room. He was tiny as well, but a bit bigger than his brother. He had dark hair and lots of it for such a tiny baby. I remember wondering how much he would have had, had he been born full term. He too was hooked up to a ventilator, due to his immature lungs, he also had tubes and wires all over him, but he had one thing different that Karter did not have. He also had the addition of a big lamp that was know as a bililight. This was being used because he was jaundice. He would have the light for a week or more. While on the light he had to wear goggles to protect his immature eyes. Because he was on the light for so long I rarely got to see his tiny little face for the first few weeks. Even though he was a strange blue color due to the lights, and even though he was hooked up to all the same machines as Karter I feel in love with him too. We began to affectionately call him our little monkey.
It was the next day that the doctors began to tell us of all the medications they were on and what to expect in terms of their care while in the NICU. On that day July 18, 2006 I heard of surfactant for the first time. The doctors explained to us what the medication was and how it worked and that our boys would more than likely be getting two doses of this. Later when we had the chance we researched exactly what surfactant was and what it was used for. That is when I found the March of Dimes website. I learned that surfactant, which is a soapy substance found in lungs is already present in full term babies and that when they take their first breath their lungs open up and the alveoli or tiny little air sacs stay open afterwards and are ready to receive each breath, however in pre-term infants, when they take their first breath their lungs open but with each exhale their alveoli or air sacs collapse making breathing harder and harder. This is also known as Respiratory Distress Syndrome or RDS. Both Kolton and Karter had this due to their prematurity. What surfactant did for my boys and for many, many preterm infants is it allowed their lungs to balance the pressure on the outside with the pressure on the inside of their lungs and remain open to incoming air. According to the March of Dimes website, surfactant began to be used in the 1980’s developed by Dr. T. Allen Merritt. Since its use the number of babies that die from RDS, has gone from 10,000 per year to less than 1,000. My boys fit into this statistic. My boys where saved not only by the doctors, but also by this wonderful discovery of surfactant, it literally allowed my boys to breath another day.
As the days went on we began to learn the ins and outs of the NICU. You are told up front that it is going to be an emotional roller coaster, and it is. Everyday is different, one day things are going good and the next something is not right. You began to think of each day as one step closer to going home. Karter spent 3 days on the Ventilator, Kolton spent two, and the next step after the ventilator is CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. CPAP does not breathe for you like the ventilator but it does create enough pressure when you inhale to keep your airway open. Kolton spent 2 days on CPAP and Kater spent 4 days on it. After CPAP is the nasal cannula. The nasal cannula is used to provide supplemental oxygen to a patient. Kolton spent 5 days with the cannula and at 11 days old was breathing room air on his own. Karter would stay on the cannula until he came home and after being home for one month he was able to breathe room air on his own. The boys spent 48 days in the NICU, while there both received many medications to help their heart rate regulate, head ultrasounds to check for brain bleeds, many X-rays to check their heart and other organs, blood transfusions due to low blood counts and the inability of their little bodies to keep up. Light therapy for Jaundice, heel sticks to check their blood gasses. Numerous IV’s in the head, legs and arms and a scar for each of those sticks.
This has all been as described to us by the nurses in the NICU, a rollercoaster of a ride, but the end result are two beautiful boys, that to this date have no lasting effects from their prematurity, they are healthy and thriving and we are so thankful, thankful to the March of Dimes for all their research, thankful for the Doctors and nurses that played a part in their survival and thankful to you, those who donate and volunteer in the quest to save babies.

Thank you again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Happy 1st Birthday Kolton and Karter!

We made it. At times it felt like we wouldn't but we did and it just keeps getting better from here. I have a whole bunch of stuff to update on. First not only was it the boys birthday today, but it was also the kickoff meeting for the March of Dimes in my area. I gave my speech today, got my information for WalkAmerica and will be setting up my sites there soon. On the March of Dimes site you will be able to donate to the March of Dimes. When I get it set up I will post a link and more information to where your money goes and how you can help.

First off I can't believe in just one short year we went from this

Karter 3 days old

Kolton 3 days old

To this.

1 year old

This, as I have said before has been the most happiest, saddest, loneliest, overwhelming year of my life. I had no idea the amount of suffering and heartache Jimmy and I would endure. I had no idea of the number of premature babies or babies with birth defects where born on a day. I have seen first hand as I'm sure others of you out there have witnessed the sadness that goes on in the NICU. Fortunately and Praise God my story has turned out to be a positive one, but many are not and I have witnessed those. I am glad that I am aware of it now, it gives me the dedication I need to work with the March of Dimes, but on another level I wish I had the naivete that I had before I went through all this. It is not easy knowing that everyday babies are born too soon and may die or have to endure an amazing struggle all before their due date. This can happen to anyone, which is the hardest to understand. I did everything I was supposed to do during my pregnancy, however my body could not handle the stress of twins and had stretched to the max, thinking I was at full term and resulting in my boys being born too early. I'm not as sad about it as I used to be, time has healed Jimmy and I a little, but every now and then I will see a scar or a picture and it all comes back. The feeling of anxiety, worry and uncertainty.

Boy I sure am glad that year is over, now bring on the terrible twos.

I have more things add, like the speech I gave today and the boys one year update, but it will have to wait until later. It's late and we had a very busy day so off to bed I go.

Friday, July 06, 2007

1 Year old pictures...

The pictures went great! Kolton is such a ham and hammed it up for the photographer. Karter took a while to warm up but we got some good shots of him too. Pics come in on the 19Th. Here are a couple we took.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Wagons,Cookies and March of Dimes..

I have a little bit more information on the March of Dimes stuff. The kickoff meeting will be on July 17th, the boys birthday. I will be giving a speech basically telling our story and I will also bring along a story board with pictures and such. Kolton and Karter will be there as everyone wants to see them and see how well they are doing. Jimmy will be coming along as well. Then sometime in September, not sure of the date just yet, I think the 28 or 29th there will be a walk, which we will be raising money for, I'll let you know more about that as it gets closer and I know more.

Now for some pictures. We had a nice fourth. We had family over and cooked out and played with the wii. The boys had fun getting so much attention and got to stay up an hour past their bedtime. We did not however take them to see fireworks, they where too sleepy and just wanted to go to bed, maybe next year. Earlier in the day Nanny brought over their birthday present because she is going out of town the week of their party and birthday. They really liked their gift and they will have lots of fun with it for years to come. We have planned thier party for the 14th of July and I sent out invites today.

Tonight after dinner I let them have their first Oreo cookie and they loved it, they both ate the whole thing.



Tomorrow we go for their one year old pictures. Hopefully they will turn out good, and the boys will corporate.