Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Whiplash & Some Serious Cuteness

Do you ever feel like you are getting whiplash reading this blog? Yeah, me too. One day happiness, the next day pain. If you haven't noticed, this journey we are on is full of opposites. Ups and down, joy and pain, fear and comfort. My brain is continually going and going. Usually it goes something like this:

I never imagined I could love someone as much as I love Cohen.
I wish I had Carter here because I know that love would just be multiplied. Having Cohen makes me realize how much I am missing with Carter.

I am so thankful for Cohen and what a miracle he is.
I am so thankful for Carter, too. 

I wish this wasn't my life, this isn't how it was supposed to be.
This is my life, I can't change what happened, what am I going to make of it?

I love it when Cohen smiles in his sleep.
I wonder if he sees Carter in his dreams.

Man, Cohen goes through a lot of formula and diapers.
Imagine what it would have been like with both boys. 

Cohen keeps me awfully busy, twins would have been hard.
But it can't be as hard as this. And I would have loved to know what it was like to be a mom to twins.

Cohen is so cute.
They would have been so cute together.

And speaking of cute...

Doesn't he look so grown up?? I can't take it!

Monday, January 30, 2012


I have to be honest, I have been having a rough couple of weeks. Part of it has been doing some processing and the other part of it is that it is really hard for me to be inside all day, every day. I'm used to being busy and going out and about.

Some of you still ask about Cohen and germs. Yes, we are still concerned about him being around germs. RSV season goes through April, so until then, we will mostly be housebound. And it's hard. It's hard for me and I think it's hard for Cohen too. I will do anything I need to in order to keep Cohen healthy, but it isn't easy. Babies are meant to be out exploring their worlds and I can't even take Cohen out with me to the grocery store. He is inside every day. I take him into different rooms to play, but he is still in the house. He is a busy, active boy and when he is awake I am constantly moving him from the floor, to his exersaucer, to his little stand up table. I asked his OT if it was possible for him to get bored and she said YES. He gets fussy if I am not actively playing with him while he is awake.We try and get out for stroller rides when it isn't raining, but those are few and far between.

{Out for a stroller ride in the snow}

And this is hard for me too, it's isolating. I love being home with Cohen and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. But it's difficult to not be able to go out if I need to. My family has been a huge help in taking care of Cohen and letting me get out once in awhile. I just wish Cohen could be a "normal" baby. I want to take him out to playgroups or to church. I know this is just another stage in life and it will be over soon, but it's not easy. On the other hand, I am so in love with Cohen. I love seeing how far he has come. Sometimes I am secretly glad when he won't go to sleep because it means I get to sit and rock him. At night, I go into his room and watch him sleep and sometimes I even get him out of his crib just to snuggle him while he sleeps (risky, I know). I'm struggling, but this little face is SO worth it.

And p.s. Thanks to everyone who voted for Cohen in the contest. He was a runner up and earned a gift certificate!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

NICU Care Package Feedback

A few of you have noticed the survey over on the side. If you are new here, at Christmastime we collected items for NICU Care packages. We were able to take 47 care packages along with blankets and hats for each baby. It was a lot of fun and went far beyond my expectations. Now that we are all finished, we would like to get a little feedback to see if this is something you would be interested in helping with again. We would love to be able to do something like this again, however, it was only possible because of all of you who helped out! So please take a minute to answer the poll (it's anonymous, no one will ever know it was you, even if you say "no" you don't want to participate again!) I know many of you are stealth readers, but if you have any additional feedback please feel free to email or facebook me. It would be a huge  help to know what you thought went well or what would make it easier (ex. the Amazon wishlist, how to get things to us, whether you liked it at Christmas or whether a different time would be easier) Thanks!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Off to Gramma's!

Cohen here. I have been a bit crabby the last couple days and not taking my naps, so FINALLY my parents decided to send me to Gramma's! YIPEE! I LOVE my parents more than anything, but they REALLY need to get out more. I assured them I would not be too homesick, so they packed me up and all my stuff and brought me to Gramma. They had a gift certificate to eat dinner out, so it was a win win.

I was pretty sleepy when I got to Gramma's, but really wanted to stay up a while. My Gramma is a firm believer in letting kids work WITH her, so the first job she gave me was to point out the spots on her refrigerator that needed to be wiped up. This was EASY.
Then I helped her empty the dishwasher, but I was getting pretty tired

Finally it was playtime!
I was busy making bubbles!


And this one just because I am so cute!! 

I had a great night at Gramma's and I hope Mom and Dad had a good dinner and sleep  in this morning!! 
'Cause I'll be BAAACCKKKK!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

How to Help a NICU Family

We were helped in so many ways by many people while Cohen was in the NICU. My hope is that by writing out a few of the things that were helpful to us, it may give you ideas of how to help someone else in a similar situation.

Food: Food is always appreciated. Some of my coworkers collected snacks and brought them down to us. This was so great because then I could keep some at the home and some at the NICU. I used them for breakfasts, ate some throughout the day, and gave some to Danny to take home for his lunches.

Meals are also a huge help. Our church brought Danny a meal once a week while I was in the hospital/Cohen was in the NICU. This was really nice for both of us. He liked having real food and I felt a little better that I knew he was at least getting one real meal. Food for the freezer is also awesome. Put meals in disposable dishes or things you don't want back (it's hard to remember what came from where, especially if you aren't home to see who brought what). Some people also brought meals to the hotel for us which was awesome because we were so tired of fast food.

Gift cards to local restaurants or grocery stores.

Gas Cards: Gas was another big expense for us as Danny was driving back and forth to Seattle twice a week.

Help around the house: We had someone from our church offer to mow our lawn over the summer and this was a huge blessing. Danny was barely home and it was one thing he just didn't have to worry about and it was great. If you know the person well, or they are comfortable letting you in their home, offer to clean, take out the garbage, do some housework etc.

Paper plates, plastic silverware, napkins etc if they are away from home. Or even if not, it's nice to not have to do dishes.

Care Package: Some really sweet girls that I went to high school with sent me a care package. It had homemade cookies, a Starbucks gift card, new jammies, a couple of new shirts and a few other things. It seriously made me really happy.

Magazines/Crossword Puzzle books to pass the time

Preemie Clothes: We received some hand me down preemie clothes and some new teeny tiny preemie clothes (made for babies in the NICU) and these were so fun for me. It was nice to have something “normal” to look forward to like dressing my baby.

Kids books: We often felt so helpless when we were with Cohen. There wasn't a lot we could actually do for him. One of the things we found ourselves doing most often was reading him stories. That way he could hear our voices and we could feel like maybe we were doing a little something to help comfort him.

Notes/Cards of Encouragement: The blog and the cards, emails, facebook messages, phone messages etc. were what kept me going, knowing that we were being supported by those around us, friends and strangers alike.

This may be kind of a "duh" thing, but I hope that if you choose to give, you are giving without the expectation of getting anything in return. I would LOVE to be able to send thank you cards to everyone has given to us in any way, big or small. However, I've come to realize that it's just not something I am going to be able to do. So please just know that I am (and they will be) thankful. 

And, just as a final note, when we were going through this, people would always say “Let us know if we can do anything to help” which we so appreciated. However, when you are in the midst of something like having a NICU baby or losing a child, a lot of times you don't know what you need. What was the most helpful for us was when people would suggest something specific like “We will bring you dinner to your house Tuesday night” or “Leave your laundry out, we will come pick it up, wash it, and bring it back”

Thank you to everyone who helped us out in one of these ways or others. We appreciate you so much.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cohen & Friends

We've had lots of pictures of Cohen with his fan club that I haven't gotten a chance to post...so here are some of them (a few may be repeats from old posts)

{Kim & Cohen}

 {Danielle & Cohen}

{Kristina & Cohen - He says sorry again about barfing down your shirt!}

 {Haylee & Cohen}

 {Cohen & Grampa}

 {Cohen & Auntie Christine}

  {Cohen & Bridget}

{Cohen & Lindsey}

{Cohen & Tamara}

{Cranky Cohen and his preemie friend Eli, they were in the NICU together}

{Stories from cousin Michelle}

{My cousins Julie & Annie came to visit (sorry Annie, I look really silly in the one with you in it)}

 {Cohen & his preemie friend Isaiah}

{Cohen & Gramma 2}

{Cohen, Richie & Rachael}

{Cohen & Rachael - it was too cute not to add!}

{Cohen & his NICU girls}

{Cohen has lots of NICU friends}

{A few more of his girls...he was getting a little sleepy}

{Cohen & Gramma}

{Dad, Cohen, & Jimmy}

Thanks everybody for being a part of our lives!! If any of Cohen's other friends have pictures out there, feel free to email them to me, he would like them for his scrapbook!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Not Alone

Last week I received Carter's medical records. I wanted to read through them myself. I find myself grasping for any little piece of him that I can find. I ask people repeatedly what they remember of the night that he was born. There were only a handful of people there who got to meet him and be a part of that night. I ask Danny to tell me again and again what he remembers.

One thing that has always haunted me and that I have a lot of guilt over is that I thought Carter died alone. I thought he was already gone when they brought him to me and that he had only been surrounded by nurses and doctors and not his family. I felt awful that I wasn't there for my son. When I read through the records, I saw something that surprised me. His heart was still beating when they brought him to me. He was alive. No one told me one way or the other and I had assumed that he was already gone. I was so overtaken by my grief that I never even thought to question it. Maybe by their standards he was gone, but it brings me a small amount of comfort to know that I got to hold him as he went to heaven and that he wasn't alone. I hope he felt how much we wanted him, loved, him, and how proud of him we were and continue to be.

I also received Cohen's medical records to have for future doctor's appointments etc. Cohen's came in two separate envelopes. There were pages and pages and pages of documents. I have a stack probably 6 inches thick of his records. Carter's came folded up in a regular envelope. There were 2 pages inside. Two pages documenting his life and death. How I wished there were pages and pages and pages, and that there were more still being written. At first I was upset that there were only a few pages. And then it hit me that he is more than two pages and his story is still being written, even though he isn't here with us. I have pages in a pregnancy book, pages on this blog, and many letters that I have written to him. We have cards, emails, and letters from people who were touched by his life. His life is so much more than those two sheets of paper. We are happy to know that Cohen and Carter's pages are still being written.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rock & Roll

A certain little fellow has taken to rolling tummy to back AND back to tummy! Yesterday he rolled across the floor. Generally, he rolls onto his tummy and gets mad and fusses until we roll him back over, or he rolls himself back over. We now have to thread his oxygen tubing through his clothes (down his shirt and out his pants) so that he doesn't get himself all tangled up.

Cohen is also enjoying his schedule. He is sleeping better at night, taking better naps, and drinking 8 oz at his feeding time.

My mom came to stay with Cohen yesterday so we could go to church. We have only been one other time since May and it was so wonderful to be back and see some of our church family. We also can't wait until spring when we will actually get to take Cohen with us!

I made Cohen this cute little pair of Seahawks slippers yesterday. I also made him a little pair of shoes, but they are too small.

And here is the little fellow in action.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Don't forget...

...to vote for Cohen! The link is on the sidebar or click here. He is catching up to the 3rd place baby. As long as he is in the top 5 he gets a gift certificate, but he doesn't want to settle :) Thanks everybody who has already voted.  Don't forget to tell your husbands and family to vote. Don't worry...you only have to hear about this a few more days, I promise.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

One of Those Days

Do you ever have one of those days? You know, the kind where your husband wakes you up at 5 am on a day you have to go to work and asks if you would be able to get another car to drive to work if he takes yours. The kind where you rub your eyes and look at your clock confused. The kind where you mumble and get out of bed to see what he is talking about. Turns out, he went to drive his car to work and the door got stuck open. The little latch inside the door was stuck and there was no way the door was going to close. I tell him to take my car and I do what any grown up, super mom would do. I called my mom. "Danny's car door is stuck open can I have one of your cars?"

Normally, this wouldn't be a problem. However, their extra car is in the shop and we would either have to drive into town to go pick it up and hope my mom would make it home in the car (they have a large snow drift that always covers their road) or she would have to come sit here with Cohen and have no car (which always makes us just a little nervous in case of emergency). Oh, and also, it's been snowing for the last week and the roads are icy. If we tried to go get her car from the shop, we would have had to get Cohen out of bed and put him in the car, which I really didn't want to do.

Okay, what about plan B? My sister's car! (The benefits of having family close by). Well, her car is stuck parked on the side of the street and the snow plow keeps going by and burying it more and more. Cross that one off.

Meanwhile, Danny has taken my car and my dad has stopped by on his way to work to see if he can do anything about the door. He is out in the 15* weather trying to fix the latch to close the door. Despite de-icer and a screwdriver, it's still stuck and seems to be more a problem of the latch than just being frozen like we thought. So, we rearrange the garage and park the car in there so that at least the wind doesn't blow the door open and fill the car with snow.

My dad leaves and my mom and I decide that I will drive her not-in-the shop car and she is going to bungee cord the door shut and drive Danny's car home and I will drop Cohen off at my sister's as planned. Brilliant right? I tell my mom just to decide whatever is easiest for them and that I am going to try and go back to sleep (not a morning person remember).

I go to turn off the lights and lock the door and happen to walk by the bathroom. I notice that our lovely kitty has decided to do his business in the bathtub. Given the fact that he couldn't exactly find anywhere to go outside, I'm not sure why this surprises me. Sigh.

Finally, I crawl back into bed determined to get a few last minutes of sleep. Except the minute my head hits the pillow I start getting texts from Danny wondering how everything is turning out. And then, my stomach starts growling and I feel that I might be getting hangry. I resign to the fact that I will not be getting any more sleep so I get out of bed.

My mom calls me and says the snow plow just came down their road and she is coming to get me to drive to town to get their extra car which has just been waiting for them to pick up. So, I load Cohen in the car and drop him off at Karen's and we go get the car and I get to work uneventfully (well, you know, besides all of the above).

And then, after all this...I realize...Cohen didn't wake up at all. He slept through the night again! Hooray!!!

Friday, January 20, 2012


This has been kind of a hard week for me for a few reasons. Now that we aren't in crisis/survival mode, I have been doing a lot of processing. A lot has happened over the last year that has been so overwhelming that we just really haven't had time to think about it that much because all we could do was deal with the moment we were in. But, it has to come out at some point, and I have been doing a lot of thinking and processing this week. Will you say a little prayer for our family? We are so thankful for all the continued support!

(And if you get bored, don't forget to vote for Cohen! The link is on the sidebar)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vote for Cohen & Sleep Matters

Our local newspaper is having a cute baby contest for babies born in 2011. We all know how cute Cohen is (well, at least I think he is), so go vote--it starts today! Cohen is on page 9 under the "Vote" tab, I can't seem to find a more direct link but if I do I will update the site. You can vote once a day/per person, so don't forget to go back all week! You have to register to vote, but I think you can just sign in with facebook.  If we win Cohen gets a gift certificate to a local baby store. Thanks!!

 Did you know there is such a thing as "sleep hygiene"? Yeah, me neither until it was suggested to me. I have never had trouble sleeping before until the last month or so. Sleep hygiene involves things like: turning off the computer or tv an hour before bedtime, doing something calming before bed, reading boring books, no caffeine, and no naps (ugh). The National Sleep Foundations says "Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before trying to go to sleep. Don't dwell on, or bring your problems to bed."

 I think this is where my problem is. Nighttime is both my favorite time and my worst time. It's my favorite time because I get to feed Cohen a bottle and rock him while the rest of the house is dark and asleep. He usually zonks out at the end of his bottle and sometimes I just hold him and rock him while he sleeps.

It's also my worst time because I have found myself avoiding going to bed and staying up really late because I know when I go to bed I will just toss and turn. Scenarios play through my mind...the coulda, woulda, shoulda's, the what ifs. They all filter through. I think about how different my life would have been if things had turned out the way I thought they would. Nighttime is when the guilt and the fear sneak in. Did I do everything that I possibly could have? What if I didn't? I was supposed to protect my babies and I couldn't.
While I work on my sleep hygiene, Cohen is undergoing some sleep training. He isn't really on a very good schedule because a)he was in the NICU b) we got him home and everything was a little crazy and we didn't really commit to a schedule with all of his appointments etc. Now, he has decided that he doesn't want to sleep through the night and is fairly unpredictable during the day as to when he is going to be grumpy, eat, and sleep. So, we are trying to get into a little bit more of a routine, for our sake and his. I'll let you know how the routines and sleep hygiene go. Wish us luck! Or say a little prayer for us...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow Day #2

Well, we are pretty glad we cancelled our appointment in Seattle. We have our first northeastern in a long time. It snows, then gets really cold and the wind blows all the snow around and we get big drifts. One winter when I was younger, we had drifts so big that when the milk trucks drove down the road all we could see was the antenna! I don't think they will be quite that big this year, but we haven't had a good winter storm for a few years.

 {10*, feels like -19*}

Today is Danny's regular day off so we are glad to be snuggled safely inside the house, although it sounds like a wind tunnel in here. Our garage door doesn't hold out a lot of wind and it sounds like a haunted house. Russell kitty has been spending a lot of time inside the last few days as he doesn't appreciate the snow. I found him outside the glass door this morning...poor kitty.

 {Russell is on high alert snow patrol}

Danny has a cold so we are trying to keep him away from Cohen as much as possible and I have been following him around with Lysol wipes. Say a little prayer for us that the rest of us don't get it!

 {Cohen watching Dad make breakfast}

I think the wind has picked up since I took this video, but this is our backyard. Kind of boring since I couldn't get anybody to go stand out there, but it's good to remember. (Not sure why it's sideways)

*I entered Cohen in a baby photo contest and voting starts TOMORROW so check back for the link so you can go vote :) *

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Snow Days

It has been snowing off and on the last few days and we have been enjoying our time inside snuggling on the couch, taking naps, walking to the mailbox, and watching the snow fall out the window. We have about 6 inches right now and it is cold...16 degrees 9 degrees. Tonight is supposed to be the worst night with more snow on the way. We cancelled our appointment in Seattle tomorrow and plan on having a nice relaxing day at home.

{Our backyard}

{Russell kitty watching the snow out the window}

{Attempt at a self portrait on the way to the mailbox}

{Love these chubby baby hands}

 {MMM dinner...white spinach pizza with sundried tomatoes}

Monday, January 16, 2012

Our Story - The Extended Version

I have been meaning to post this under the "Our Story" tab for some time, but I don't know how to put it there without posting it on the blog. I know some of you have started reading after the boys were born and for those of you who have been reading all along, we never went into too many details of the night the boys were born. This is our story...the long version. 

On February 10, 2011 we found out we were having twins. We had known we were pregnant for a little bit and had been anxiously awaiting our first appointment to see our baby for the first time. Little did we know what a surprise we were in for! Nothing about our pregnancy was routine, normal, or easy.

I remember laying on the ultrasound table and our Dr was looking at the screen and I heard her say “oh, girl...you are having twins”. I just remember looking at Danny and starting to cry. We were just in complete shock. She asked me if I had any questions and all I could manage to utter was “Well, now what do I do?” We had been intending to keep our pregnancy a secret until we reached the 12 week mark but once we found out it was twins we just couldn't keep it to ourselves. We walked around for days and weeks looking at each other and saying “twins!?”.

Eventually the shock wore off and we were so excited about having twins. While I thought it would have been really fun to dress up twin girls, I knew all along that we were having boys. My mom and all of her sisters each had two boys as their first children. We are a pretty boy heavy family so I just figured our twins would be boys as well.

We laid in bed at night and talked about what it would be like to have two babies. Two brothers. Would they really be identical? Would we be able to tell them apart? Would they play tricks on our family and friends? Would they like sports? We wondered how we would fit two babies in our small house and how we would afford the mass amount of diapers that they were sure to go through.

Most of the memories I have of my pregnancy were ones of fear, wonder, and concern. Our first appointment was probably the best one that we had. In early March, around 12 weeks, we went in for a special ultrasound called a nuchal translucency scan that looks at the amount of fluid in the back of the baby's neck. Cohen's test came back abnormal which they told us could be an indicator for genetic abnormalities or structural defects. We were told since we were so young and healthy that the chances for a genetic problem was low but that he may have some kind of cardiac defect. We were sent down to UW to see a genetic specialist. Little did we know that this would be the first of many trips to Seattle. We met with the specialist, who ended up being one of the doctors who took care of me in the hospital. The days between the test results and our appointment at UW were really hard. I tried not to let my mind wander or imagine any worse case scenarios. I remember that this happened the week that we announced our pregnancy to our Sunday School class at church. After class I asked to talk to my pastor's wife and I just remember crying and crying over the possibility that something could be wrong with my babies. This was the beginning of the difficulties that we faced with our boys.

We went down to UW and were reassured that the likelihood of something actually being wrong was fairly low. We were offered more testing but we weren't promised any concrete results because of the fact that they boys were identical twins and shared a placenta. We agreed that the risks of further testing outweighed the benefits, it wouldn't change the care we received, and wouldn't change our minds that we wanted to keep both of our babies no matter what. We left feeling better but still having a small amount of concern in the back of our minds.

In mid March we went on a vacation to Maui that we had been planning with our friends since the winter before. I asked my OB over and over if they were sure that it was safe for me to go and they reassured me that it was. Several days before we left I started having some pain on my right side and around to my back. I called the Drs office before I left just to make sure that this wasn't anything they were concerned about. They weren't and I didn't think much else of it and off we went. The first few days of Maui were great and then the pain started to get worse. I could be up and around for about 15 minutes before I would have to crawl into bed and lay down. I did my best to enjoy myself, afterall this was going to be our last vacation for quite some time. The day before we left the pain had gotten so bad that I tried to stand up and I couldn't. Danny and some of my friends were very concerned and took me into the ER. I spent about 5 hours in the ER, no one checked on me and I was accused of having an anxiety problem. They suspected that I could have kidney stones but couldn't do any of the tests like they normally would because of the pregnancy. They also did a quick ultrasound to make sure that the boys were okay and they were. That alone was worth going in for. I was desperate to get home thinking that somehow that would fix it. I was scheduled to open at work the Monday we got back and I figured I would fine in a few days. I went into work that morning and made it for about half an hour before I had to crawl onto one of our stretchers and lay there and wait for the appointment I had scheduled with my OB for later in the day. The babies still looked fine at the appointment and they suspected either kidney stones or that I just grew so fast that my body couldn't quite keep up. I was told to go home and take the rest of the week off. After a few days rest and several gallons of water, I was feeling quite better.

The next few weeks we worked on a lot of projects around the house to get things ready before I wouldn't be able to help out. Things were sort of uneventful for a few weeks and then we went in for our 20 week appointment. I had been having some contractions but knew I had an appointment the next day so I figured I would talk to my OB about it then. This was the appointment when we found out that my cervix had started shortening and that they suspected the boys had twin to twin transfusion. We were sent back down to UW to meet with a high risk perinatologist who would become our Dr while we were in the hospital and would eventually deliver the boys. I was told that I couldn't work anymore and was put on bedrest. At this point we were nervous but still trying to be optimistic.

Bedrest was incredibly hard for me. As a nurse, I am used to being busy and always working on at least 3 different things at a time. Bedrest also gives you way too much time to think. I remember laying in bed and feeling the contractions and just getting more and more worried. After what seemed like an eternity, we went down for our appointment at UW. We got some good news in that my cervix hadn't changed any more and that the boys still looked okay. However, we were given a lot of worst case scenarios and told that we needed to start thinking about what we wanted to do should our babies be born at 23 weeks. Babies aren't considered “viable” until this point. Suddenly we were faced with the responsibility of possibly having to decide whether our babies lived or died. The outcomes for 23 week babies aren't great. We were told there was a 50/50 chance of survival and a 90% chance they would have significant problems. But how you decide that you don't want everything done for your children? We hoped and prayed that we wouldn't be faced with these decisions. This was the first of several heartbreaking conversations about what we wanted done for our babies over the next few weeks. During these weeks on bedrest, I told Danny that I wanted to pick names for the boys. I wanted my babies to have names and be known by them.

May 18th, 22 weeks along, we went in for our weekly appointment, and we were told to go home and pack some things and drive down to Seattle to be admitted to the hospital. I had been having a significant amount of contractions, every few minutes, and my cervix had dilated more. I remember laying in the OB office as my Dr called down to Seattle and told them what was going on. I remember crying and crying, filled with fear over what was happening with my babies. My mom had driven me in to the appointment since Danny had been at work and was meeting us there. The 30 minute drive home to pack up our things was the longest drive of my life. I came into the house and fell into my bed and sobbed as Danny packed up our things. I told him I wasn't going. I was so afraid of what was going to happen. Deep down in my heart, I knew that things weren't going to turn out how I wanted.

The two hour drive to Seattle was even worse than the drive home to pack up our things. I continued to cry and cry. I cried for my boys and for the unknown. All I wanted was for them to be okay. I wanted my body to cooperate so that I could keep my babies safe. I felt so helpless knowing that there wasn't anything I could do to help them. I felt more and more anxious with each contraction that came and went.

We made it to UW and were admitted to the hospital. We again had to have the “your babies aren't viable, and if they make it to 23 weeks what do you want done?” talk. It was awful. Every time someone would come in and mention it I would cry through the whole conversation. It is so hard to want to protect your babies but to be completely helpless to do so. It is awful to feel your babies moving around and hear their heartbeats and see them waving on the ultrasound and then be told that if they were born that they wouldn't survive. We met with several neonatologists who gave us the statistics for if the boys were born at 23 weeks, 24 weeks, 25 weeks etc. None of it sounded promising. Our hearts were broken.

Over the next week I was started on Ibuprofen to try and help calm down the contractions. I continued to have regular contractions although they didn't seem to be changing my cervix very much. The Drs were again worried about the boys having twin to twin transfusion. With identical twins the babies share a placenta and the blood vessels that feed them. One baby acts as a donor twin and the other a recipient. While one baby receives the majority of the blood/fluid, the other receives a minimal amount. As the days went by I was monitored closely. Lots of different doctors and nurses came and went. Some woke me up in the middle of the night and demanded to check my cervix (twice). Some came in at midnight to tell me that I should let one of my babies die in hopes of giving the other a better chance at survival. Some nurses freaked out over my regular contractions even though I told them over and over that it was normal for me. Sometimes I remember the insensitive words and scary moments more than the calm moments although with the exception of a few experiences, we really were very well taken care of.

The majority of the days I spent in the hospital were filled with fear. With every contraction I felt like I was getting closer and closer to going into labor and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I worried when my regular nurses who knew me weren't there. I worried on the weekends when my regular Dr wasn't there. I did everything I could to pass the minutes so that I could go to sleep for the night and wake up and celebrate that I had made it one day closer to giving my babies a chance to survive. We counted down the days until we finally made it to 24 weeks. I spent my birthday in the hospital with my mom. Danny was driving back and forth twice a week and my mom would come stay with me when he couldn't be there. I am so thankful for both of them and the sacrifices they both made to be with me. I was terrified to be alone because I didn't want my babies to be born without their Dad. I was scared to be alone because I didn't know what was going to happen.

At the end of May I was taken over to Children's by ambulance to get an echocardiogram to look at the babies hearts since there had been some concern with the nuchal translucency scan that we had done early on. The only thing that showed up was a small calcium deposit on Cohen's heart which they were not concerned about.

Within the first 2 weeks of being in the hospital I had gained 10 lbs. We soon found out that this was a result of the twin to twin transfusion. Carter's swimming pool was getting bigger while Cohen's was getting smaller. I was so uncomfortable and so big from gaining the weight so fast. I didn't have room to eat anything and laying in my bed was miserable. I had a procedure done where they put a needle into my belly and drained out 2.5 liters of fluid. I couldn't believe when I saw how much fluid had come out of my belly, but it sure did explain why I was feeling so big and couldn't get comfortable. Prior to the procedure I had received my first steroid shot. The amnioreduction had the potential to put me into labor and so I was given the first of 2 steroid shots to help the babies lungs. I felt way better after they were done. Before the procedure I had gotten to the point where I was so big that I couldn't sit up because it was painful. I didn't want to go outside for my one field trip a day that I was allowed. I didn't want to eat because I didn't have room for anything. For a few days after the amnioreduction I felt way better. I wanted to eat and I wanted to go outside. But, soon the fluid started to return.

After what seemed like an eternity, we made it to 25 weeks. We were so happy that we had even made it that far. We had started to have daily non-stress tests to check on the babies and Carter's heart rate started to concern the doctors. He didn't have much variablity in his heart rate, which shows that he wasn't really responding to stress. He was having some periods where his heart rate would go a little low. Because they were concerned I had to be hooked up to the monitors overnight so that they could monitor the babies closely. This was the beginning of sleepless nights until the boys were born. Because the babies were so small, the nurses would spend up to an hour just trying to get both babies on the monitors. I would have to hold completely still and not move or the boys would come off the monitor and we would start the process over. The last few days before the boys were born I was so miserable. The fluid was coming back. I couldn't eat. I couldn't get comfortable and I couldn't sleep because of the constant monitoring. We continued to be fearful of what lay ahead of us for our boys.

On June 4th one of my waters broke. I was moved to labor and delivery and started on antibiotics and Magnesium (to help the babies brains, not to prevent labor). I was told that at this point they would not try and stop my labor. My Dr had told me that sometimes the babies tell us when they are ready to come out and it seemed like that was what was happening. Carter's heart rate continued to concern the doctors and they watched him closely. On June 5th my second water broke. The doctors came in and did another ultrasound to look at the boys. At this point Carter was starting to look pretty sick and was starting to show fluid accumulating around his organs. They decided that it was time to deliver the boys. We were given the option to induce labor but we weren't guaranteed that the boys would survive labor. We decided that it would be best to go ahead with a C-section and get the boys out as quickly as possible. My regular doctor was called and she came in for the delivery. It was such a relief to see her face and to know that someone we knew and trusted would be delivering the boys.

As all this was going on, I remember having the strangest peace which I know only could have come from the Lord. I could tell Danny was scared and I found it weird that I was able to try and comfort him without completely falling apart. Earlier that day I had begged him not to leave. Since it was Sunday, he was going to head back up to go to work and my mom would have come down in the morning. Somehow, I knew that this was going to be the day that they boys would be born and so I begged him to stay with me. We called our parents and let them know that it was time. For a few brief moments while they were getting me ready for surgery, I was just calm. I wasn't scared or excited...just waiting to meet our boys.

I was taken back into the OR, given an epidural and prepped for surgery. I remember wishing that Danny could have been there with me but they wouldn't let him back until I was all ready. Finally they let him back and I was so glad to see him. It was time to meet our boys. I don't remember much about the surgery except for my Dr leaning over the curtain and telling me that Carter looked like he had really needed to come out. I didn't get to see either of the boys when they were born as they were whisked away to be worked on, like they needed to be. After what seemed like forever, one of the NICU doctors came in and leaned over me and told me that they had been working on Carter for 20 minutes and that he wasn't going to make it. I don't remember anyone ever telling me anything about Cohen. It's possible that they did, my memories of that night are blurry. I remember Danny going back to the infant resuscitation room to see Carter. He had to watch them work on our baby. He had to make the decision to tell them to stop, although Carter had already mostly made that decision for us. Looking back, we are thankful in that regard. He fought as hard as he could, but he was just too early and too sick. I remember crying like I have never cried before. I remember wondering how they were going to sew me up while I was crying so hard. At some point my mom and sister arrived at the hospital and Danny went out to tell them that Carter had died.

They finished sewing me up and as they were wheeling me out of the OR they brought Carter to me and put him in my arms. I was completely heartbroken. I couldn't believe he was gone. I just remember looking at him and thinking how perfect he looked. He looked like he was sleeping and at any moment that he was going to stretch and open his eyes. He never did. We were taken back to our room where we held Carter for quite some time, but it didn't seem like long enough. I just couldn't believe that this was happening. I couldn't believe my baby was gone. Just hours earlier I had seen him moving on the ultrasound. I had heard his heart beating on the monitor as they were getting me ready for surgery. And now I was faced with the reality that he was gone forever. We counted his fingers and toes. We commented on how he had his daddy's big feet. He looked so perfect. He had the tiniest little hands and fingernails and little round head. I didn't want to give him up. I wanted to keep him with me and protect him. I wanted so badly for it all to be a nightmare. I wanted to wake up and realize that none of it had happened. It was a nightmare, but I didn't wake up and it didn't go away.

Someone came to update us on Cohen and we were told that had a strong heart. We later found out that he was really sick. He was in kidney failure and his lungs were very premature. The doctors weren't terribly optimistic. In the midst of our pain over losing Carter we were also trying to deal with having a critically ill baby in the NICU. Our journey into parenthood was anything but happy. When you think about having a baby, this is not how you imagine it will go. We had big hopes and dreams for our boys that we won't get to see come true. Even though things didn't turn out how we wanted them to, we are so thankful for both of our boys and what little fighters they are/were. And that is the story of our twins, one in heaven and one on earth.

How to Roll Over

{All pictures from Karen!}