Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011 - The Year in Review

It's hard to even know where to start in reviewing our year....it's a little bit overwhelming to think about the year as a whole because the minutes, days and months all seem to blend together. And yet some moments stand out so clearly. Here is the simplified version because if I went through the whole year in detail we would probably still be here next New Year's Eve and you've already read it all anyway.

In January, we found out we were pregnant after I took 4 pregnancy tests

In February, we found out at our first ultrasound that we were having twins and we start the blog



In March, we took a vacation to Maui with our friends



In May, I ended up in the hospital on bedrest



In June, the boys were born and we said goodbye to Carter and watched Cohen struggle for his life




 In July, we were in the NICU


 

 In August, we were in the NICU


In September, we were in the NICU


In October, we spent half of it in the NICU and after being away from home for nearly half the year, we finally got to bring Cohen home
 


In November, we adjusted to life at home with only one of our boys. We spent most of our days in the house or going to doctor's appointments


 


In December, we survived our first Christmas



We are looking forward to the fresh start of a new year as this last one has been quite...long. But through it all God has been faithful to us in so many ways and we know that he will continue to carry us through the joys and challenges of the coming year. Goodbye, 2011...here's to hoping 2012 is a little bit calmer.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Weight Lifting

Hi friends,
It's Cohen here. Mom says you have been wondering about what I've been up to. Mostly just the usual...eating, napping, playing. Oh, and some of this...



So I can grow big muscles!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year!

Thank you all for your kind comments on Carter's video. If you didn't get a chance to see it, you can watch it here. I think it will be worth your time :) Sorry there aren't any pictures today. Cohen has been a little...crabby the last few days. He has been sleeping constantly and mostly refusing to eat. We are hoping maybe he is just teething or growing.


I don't set New Year's Resolutions. Honestly, I don't even like New Year's Eve. It's probably my least favorite holiday. I have to stay up late and usually socialize. I would rather just go to sleep and when I wake up in the morning, it's a new year! I am ready for a new year. This last one was so hard and felt so long, we are ready to start fresh. I know that the calendar changing isn't going to magically make things any easier or take away any of our pain, but it just feels new you know? And I am ready for that.


I do have some goals for this coming year:

1. To continue to share our story, on this blog, and with people that I meet. Our story has brought us in contact with some really great people that we wouldn't have met otherwise. I feel like something good will come out of this, in time, and hopefully letting other people share in our journey is helping someone, somewhere.

2. Continue to see God working in our lives. He has brought us through so much and we continue to have hope in him that he will see us through whatever is next for us.

3. Money. Sigh. We are SO thankful for all of you who have chosen to help our family financially. Honestly, we would be bankrupt if God hadn't taken care of us the way that he has. We have gone from a two full time income household, to one and a little, tiny bit. Thankfully, we have two cars that are paid off. They aren't pretty, but they are ours. When we bought a house we set the price for what we wanted and then found a house whose price just happened to be lowered that day to something less than what we had planned. We are thankful now for those house payments instead of the ones we would have been making on a more expensive house. We tried to put Cohen on both of our insurances and it just wasn't working out. And so we had to pick a different option, and thankfully, it covers all of Cohen's medical bills. It's not what we had planned, but it has been a blessing in disguise. The reality of that hit when we got an $890,0000 bill in the mail. And that was just ONE of them (and he is worth every penny!) and doesn't include Carter's or my own bills. I'm telling you this because God has provided for us in huge ways through circumstances and also through some generous family, friends, and even strangers. Our goal is to take care of this money as best we can. This year our prayer is that we will be good stewards of what we have.

4. This kind of goes along with the above and we will see how this one goes. I have been trying to practice this a little bit already, but I really want to give this a try for the whole year. I am not buying Cohen any clothes over $5. We have been giving some of Cohen's clothes that he has outgrown away and taking some to the local consignment store. I have found that I can get some nice clothes there, some still with tags, for a very reasonable price. At this age Cohen goes through clothes so fast that I'm not sure I can justify spending a lot on brand new clothes. I will probably make a few exceptions, like a "birthday boy" shirt on his birthday or if there is other special occasions. But I am going to really try to do this all year. So if you have any boy clothes you want to get rid of...I know a very cute boy who would wear them

5. I mentioned my Project Life album earlier and that is something that I really want to keep on top of this year. I think it will be really neat to look back at our year this way.

6. Clean out our extra room. Ugh. It started out as my craft/sewing room and has now become a junk room. Things we haven't had time to deal with or organize end up in there or in the garage. So my goal this year is to clean it out and organize it.

7. To keep perspective. Losing a baby changes you. Having a baby sick and in the hospital changes you. It changes the way you view things and what you make important in your life. One of my personal goals is to try and continue to focus on what is important and let the rest go. Sometimes I have high expectations of myself and I get frustrated if things aren't done how I think they should be or when they should be. But, there are things in life that matter, and there are things that don't. There are things that are worth my time (Jesus, family, friends) and there are things that aren't (getting grumpy about long lines at the grocery store, the house not being spotless etc.)

8. To give back. We have been given so much and we want to continue to pass it on however we can. We aren't sure what that will look like yet, maybe another project like the stockings. We will see...

9. Oh, and to eat more vegetables.

Maybe at the end of 2012 I will look back and see how I did :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Meet Carter

I have gone back and forth about putting Carter's pictures up. I have gladly showed them to friends and family who ask to see them in person. Something about putting his pictures out for the world to see seems so...vulnerable. This is literally a piece of my heart and I feel very protective of him, even if he's not here. Part of me wants to hide his pictures in a little box in the corner so that I can feel like I am keeping him safe. The other part wants to show him off, especially to the people who have been such a huge support to us these past months. He was a perfect little boy and I see so much of Carter in Cohen, and Cohen in Carter. So, here he is. I know that you will be respectful and loving to my baby boy. (Don't forget to turn on your volume)



video

Christmas Day Top 6

Here is the recap of our Christmas Day, in no particular order:


1. New rain boots, a heating pad neck warmer, and a big costco jar of jelly bellies (carrying on my Gramma Rinehart's tradition). Danny got a coffee maker and some new Seahawks slippers. Cohen got a new little piano toy and some blocks for when he is a little older.

 {Opening his stocking}

 {Ready for presents}

{New Toys}

2. We took the gold star balloon to Carter. We put it in Cohen's little hand and let him send it up to his brother. Someone told me a story about a son that had lost his dad before he was old enough to know him. Every year they would send balloons up to their dad. The son had asked his mom how he would know his dad when he got to heaven and she told him that he would be the one holding all the balloons. I like to think of Carter like that, when we get to heaven we will see him holding all of his balloons.

 {Holding onto Carter's balloon. Yes we forgot a hat and this one was in the back of the car}

{Sending his brother a balloon for Christmas}


3. The Help. I have really been wanting to read this book and it showed up in my stocking! I have already made some good progress on it due to the fact that Cohen has been taking some good, long naps. Must be all the excitement and I think maybe he is having a little growth spurt.

4. Cohen ROLLED OVER!!! We had him doing his tummy time and he just put his arm up, got his head up and over he went. Danny and I both got to see him do it so that was pretty cool. He still has a hard time keeping his head up so we are trying to work on that but we were pretty excited that he rolled over, even if it was an accident.
 
 {New hat from Gramma}

5. Coyotes. These are a tradition in the Rinehart household. I have no clue why they are called coyotes since they have nothing to do with coyotes. It is just fried bread dough, but they are so good. We eat them with jam or powdered sugar, or both if you are Danny.


 {Mmm...worth waiting all year for}

6. Stockings. These were always my favorite growing up and Danny knows how important it is. He always does a great job! These are our new mostly matching family stockings.


 

Overall, we had a nice relaxing Christmas Day. Cohen was pretty tired and took several good naps and then played with his new toys when he got up. The boys came over and brought us some leftovers from their Christmas lunch with my mom and dad. In the evening we took Carter his balloon and then drove around and looked at Christmas lights.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve Top 6

Christmas Eve at the Rinehart's in top six fashion, in no particular order:

1. We had Mexican food for dinner. Tacos, enchiladas, chips, salsa, and I made cheesecake for dessert.




2. NO football! Well, not at the house at least. The boys all went over to Joel and Christine's to watch football so we had some peace and quiet before the party started.



3. Cohen's cousins finally got to hold him. We were a little bit naughty since Cohen isn't really supposed to be around people/kids, but they were healthy and we bathed them in hand sanitizer. They did a really good job with him and Cohen did really well too. Cohen also got to meet my youngest brother John for the first time. He was actually in isolation for most of the night other than when he came out for pictures and to look at trains. It's so hard to keep him away from "normal" life.

{Cousins in matching jammies made by Gramma}

4. Family picture. See that gold balloon in the back? My family got that for Carter. I am so thankful to my family for remembering and including Carter as part of our family even though he can't be here with us and not expecting us to "just get over it". We have felt incredibly supported by our families.

 {Rinehart side: Back - Danny, John, Chuck, Josh, Christine, Joel
Front - Jana, Cohen, Dad, Mom, Michelle, Karen, Jordan, Josiah, Eli}

5. I got a "Project Life" book from Karen that I am pretty excited about. For a year you take a picture or write a little journal every day and put it all in a scrapbook. I probably take a picture every day anyway so that shouldn't be too hard, it will just be keeping up with putting it in the scrapbook. We also got a really cool sign from my brother Chuck that he made. I'm so excited to get it put up in Cohen's room.

6. Cohen loved looking at Grampa's trains. He has a few trains from when he was a kid that he has been working on getting to run again. Cohen would just watch them as they went around the track and couldn't wait to get his little hands on them.

And also, Ron Tranmer, the man who wrote the poem "The Broken Chain" that I put up on this post commented on my blog! He has written a lot of really great poems that seem to express a lot of the feelings that I have lately. You can go here to see his comment and a few more of the poems he has written that he left there as well. I was pretty excited about it because he writes such great poems.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

While our Christmas this year won't be how we thought it would, we are still excited to celebrate the reason for Christmas. We will celebrate the time when Jesus came to earth to give us life. We are so thankful to all of you for all of your support, encouragement, and love through this difficult and joyous time in our lives. We hope you have a wonderful time celebrating with your family and friends this Christmas.



Love, the Kimmels

Candle for Carter

Today is a hard day. How we so desperately wish he could be here with us for his first Christmas. Some days the ache is so deep that it feels like nothing can possibly touch it. Some days it physically hurts not having him here in my arms. In my heart I know he is somewhere even better, but he is there and I'm not. I'm here living in this world with constant reminders of him and all that could have been. Carter, I miss you more than words can ever say. I can't wait to see you again.




The Broken Chain

Author: Ron Tranmer
We little knew that day,
God was going to call your name.
In life we loved you dearly,
In death, we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you.
You did not go alone.
For part of us went with you,
The day God called you home.

You left us beautiful memories,
Your love is still our guide.
And although we cannot see you,
You are always at our side.

Our family chain is broken,
And nothing seems the same,
But as God calls us one by one,
The chain will link again.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Seattle Trip

Today was a looooong day. We left the house around 9:00 am and got home at 7:30 pm. Our first stop was to Danny's parents house so they could see Cohen. They haven't seen him since before he left the hospital so it was fun for them to get to see him even though it was a quick visit.

Our next stop was to Children's to see the pulmonologist. Turns out some of our NICU friends, Emily and Owen, who we haven't officially met before had an appointment half an hour after ours with the same doctor. So they came a little early and we got to meet for the first time. It was so fun to see them and to see what a big boy Owen is! The boys had a little playdate at the doctors office. What better place for a playdate for two little boys who don't go very many places other than doctors' offices. They got to get their weights and heights checked together and the moms got to do some chatting. Owen is an amazing little boy who had a similar NICU experience as Cohen, although every story is different. It was so good to finally meet you guys in person! And also, Emily made the cutest little ornaments for the NICU families. I will have to take a picture of one.



The results from Cohen's visit are this: he almost got to switch to going 12 hours on oxygen and 12 hours off. Almost. But, after he had been off of his oxygen for awhile he started to work a little harder breathing. He doesn't really have retractions anymore when he is on oxygen, but after he had been on room air for awhile he started to retract and act like he was working harder. So, he stays on oxygen. He does get to come off for a few hours a day, but his doctor doesn't see any point in pushing him and making him work harder than he needs to and we agree. As much as we would like him to be off of it, we will do whatever he needs for however long he needs it. We also talked with a nutritionist who thought he was doing really well, which makes us happy to hear. I asked Cohen's doctor how long he would be considered a baby with chronic lung disease. He said that eventually as Cohen grows the amount of good, healthy lung tissue that he has will make up for the damaged tissue. Usually this takes until they are about 2 years old. Overall, it was a good visit and we go back in two months.



Our third stop was to the NICU. This is always our favorite stop and I can usually hardly wait to get out and go see our extended family. Lots of people say they have a hard time going back to the NICU and while I certainly wouldn't want to be spending more than a few minutes there anytime soon, I like going back. It's the place where we felt so loved and cared for during some of the most difficult times of our lives and where they saved Cohen's life. We are so thankful for all of them. Cohen was a little tired by this point but he did get to say hi to lots of his friends. It was really good to see his nurses and others again, they really do become part of your family after you have been through so much together. I love seeing Cohen respond to them when he hears them talk. It's like I can see the little wheels in his head turning going "Hmm, I know those voices". We had a good time visiting and showing Cohen off, despite his crabbiness. Cohen was looking good in his penguin sweater, jeans and little red shoes. He doesn't get out much so when he does he likes to get all dressed up. Or maybe just I like it, I'm not sure.


{I think he is done with pictures}

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cohen, Christmas Songs, & Crafts

During Cohen's naptime today I made this "C" for his room. I really like how it turned out. Now all I need is the shelf to put it on. Or maybe I will get the rest of the letters to his name and spell it out above his crib. We'll see.



I have to be honest, I start listening to Christmas music early. Like at the beginning of November. This year, there have been a few songs that I have heard before, but I never really heard. There are songs that I relate to more or listen a little harder to now that we have a baby and also now that we have lost a baby. The song "Joseph's Lullaby" get's me every time. I think about Jesus as a baby and I wonder what he knew. If he knew what was coming or if God spared him and just let him be a baby. There is one line that says "You have a long road before You, Rest Your little head...Lord, I ask that He for just this moment, Simply be my child" and there were so many times in the NICU holding Cohen that I just wanted him to get to be a baby. Not a tiny baby, born too soon, fighting more things than most of us will in our entire lives. I just wanted to protect him and let him just be. I think that's how God must have felt watching his baby boy coming to earth, knowing what was in store for him. And maybe Mary too, I wonder how much she knew of what would happen to her son. Something that has stood out to me in our journey is that God knows. He knows what it's like to lose a son, his baby boy. He watched his son die and he knows that pain. He gets it, and that has been a huge comfort to me.

And lastly, an episode of Cohen. He is quite social and has been "talking" quite a bit. He loves to play with Dad when he gets home.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stocking Delivery

 Our week is a little busy this week...

Monday: Cohen's OT at 9:30
Tuesday: Work meeting for me at 7:00 am
Wednesday: Pulmonology appt at Children's, maybe visiting some friends, and maybe a little trip to the NICU if Cohen is up for it

The good news is that all the stockings, blankets, and hats etc got delivered last week. Danny and I were going down to Seattle for a Christmas/birthday party with some friends so we loaded up all the stuff in the car to drop off. We had to take my mom's blazer because neither of our cars had enough room. Cohen stayed with Gramma and Grampa for the night and we thought it would be easier to unload all the stuff without him.  I didn't take too many pictures because I was too busy carrying stuff.

 {This was my favorite blanket that I made}

We got to the hospital and met up with some friends who helped us guard the car and bring everything in (Thanks Ryan & Tiff!). I went up and got Diane, the NICU social worker who I had been chatting back and forth with. I'm not sure she quite understood how much stuff there was. She got her intern to come help thinking we could carry it all. Little did she know I had two grown men waiting at the car to carry it up and it still took 5 of us and one giant wheelchair two different trips. I tried to warn her that there was a lot of stuff but I think she was a little surprised. She was pretty excited about it and thought that the parents were really going to love it. Diane filled up her office and borrowed a little of someone else's to store the stuff. They will probably be handing it out closer to Christmas, which is just fine with me. I'm hoping she will send me a little email after they give everything out so I can hear how it went.

 {All loaded up and ready to go}


We didn't visit very much, just a quick trip but I did get to see the social worker from the Drs office who was such a huge help to us during the pregnancy and after the boys were born. She was so wonderful to us and I hadn't seen her in a while so it was fun to see her.

{Ryan & Danny}

 {Mom made cookies for all the nurses}
THANKYOU, THANKYOU, THANKYOU to all of you who helped out in any way for this project whether by gathering stuff, knitting hats, making blankets, or giving money donations. We couldn't have done it without you! When I first had this idea, I had no idea how big of a project this was going to turn into but I am so happy with how it all turned out. Thank you so much for taking the time to help us give back to the people who have given so much to us and for helping other parents who are in such a difficult situation. We appreciate it SO much, it means so much to me. I wish I could hug you all :)

Oh, and I'm working on a little something that I am excited and nervous to show you...I will let you know when I am ready.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Balloons

I think Carter likes balloons. At his memorial service we had the kids write messages to Carter and tie them to balloons. After the service we let them go and watched them fly up to Carter. Whenever we got balloons, from a baby shower or somewhere, I always take them to Carter's grave. A few weeks ago, around their 6 month birthday, I went to visit Carter and I noticed someone had put a green star balloon on his grave. I have since driven by and noticed that the balloon was on the ground. I stopped by today to visit and the balloon was still on the ground. It wasn't tied to anything and could have long since floated away but it was just laying there on the ground. I stayed and talked to Carter for a few minutes and then picked up the balloon and put it in the car to take to the trash. Once I put the balloon in the car and let go, it suddenly started floating again, just like that. It was like Carter was just saying "Hi mom, I'm doing okay, see?" I know it sounds a little crazy, but I do believe that sometimes he sends me little messages when I need them the most. Today it was in the form of a green balloon. I didn't put the balloon in the trash. I drove home with it in the car and thought it would have been like to have Carter to actually talk to instead of a balloon and about the places I would take him to see. I was going to take the balloon inside for Cohen to look at but as I got out of the car I looked up at the sky and saw a little patch of blue sky among the dark rainclouds. And I let the balloon go. I let Carter go back to his playing, but I'm so glad he stopped by to say hi to his mom and let me know that he was okay. Thanks little buddy, I needed that.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Out for a Walk

The other day Danny and I took Cohen out for a walk around the neighborhood. I am trying to get outside when I can to see the light of day and get out of the house. The fresh air is good for us. Cohen got this fuzzy blue bear suit from one of the showers and I have been anxiously waiting to put him in and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. He looked so cute in it. He slept the entire walk and for probably an hour and a half after. Isn't he the cutest?





Thursday, December 15, 2011

You Did What!?

So, I did something kind of crazy last night. And so did my mom. We got tattoos!!!! Yes, we drove downtown to the tattoo store and got tattoos. This is something I have wanted to do for awhile, and my mom decided she wanted to get one too. She went first to so that I could see how bad it was. She said it didn't hurt, which was a lie. It did hurt, but it was worth it!

{I was nervous for her!}

 {Here goes...}

{Carter Garen, Forever Loved}

{Ready to go, I think}

{Trying to be brave}

{Finished}

 {And here it is this morning}

The footprint on the right is Carter's with his initials to the left and the footprint on the left is Cohen's with his initials to the right. It's bigger than I planned, but since the footprints are actual size that's how it turned out. And they are a big part of my life, so they can have a sort of big tattoo. I love it, it makes me happy.