Friday, August 31, 2012

Fess Up Friday

As I was going into our room, I told Danny I would be right back. I fell asleep and came back 2 hours later.

While we were out for a walk Danny asked me how far I thought I could run if I have to. I told him to the end of the block and I meant it.

I keep a pair of socks in my purse because I always wear flip flops to work and forget socks.

Aside from the being sick part, I secretly take great pleasure in sucking snot out of Cohen's nose.

We keep chips in our microwave (it's broken and we have decided to go microwave free).

I have a love/hate relationship with Pottery Barn Kids catalogs. I want everything and I can afford nothing.

I am kind of competitive when it comes to playing games. One time while playing cribbage I was laughing at with Danny and in my excitement I leaned forward and broke one of the cribbage pieces off with my head. Part of the little red piece is still stuck in the board to this day. Danny likes to bring it up every time we play.

Anytime we open the dishwasher, Cohen makes a beeline for it and likes to play in the dishes and try and climb into the dishwasher. I often use this as an excuse for why I am unable to do dishes.

Happy Friday from Farmer Cze31ohsc5v1q1aaaaaah (That means Cohen, he's just learning to type so cut him a little slack :)!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cookie Monster

{I'm cute. Feed me!}

 {Water!? I need milk with my cookies}

 {You're the best cookie I've ever had}

{News flash: I'm OUT of cookie!}

 {Hey buddy, I'm out of cookie!}

 {Nom, nom, nom. That's better}

(These are from the 4th of July, but he's still cute and they make me laugh!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Family Photos

Want to help us out with something kind of cool? We are finalists in a contest to win a free family photo shoot, which would be awesome!! To vote, just go to this link and "like" Merrilee D. Photography on facebook and then follow the instructions to vote for us, you can vote every day until it ends. Thanks :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Some days I just can't believe how fast Cohen is growing up. He is such a funny little boy with his own big personality. He has a fake laugh that he likes to pull out for fun. He threw his first toy into the toilet yesterday.

 He is into everything and we find his little handprints everywhere. Part of me doesn't want to wash them off. I like remembering that he was there and how little his hands are. I know I can't leave them there forever, but for now, I like seeing them around the house. It reminds me that he is here and well.

I still call Cohen my "little baby". I'm not sure how long I can keep calling him that, as he isn't so little anymore. I know he is going to grow up way too fast so we are just trying to enjoy every minute that we can. I don't mind that he opens my cupboards and pulls out all of the tupperware or empties out my towel drawer. He always looks at me with a guilty look on his face like he knows he isn't really supposed to be doing it. But, I usually just smile at him and let him carry on. Sometimes he ruins his clothes crawling through the dirt or eating blackberries. Sometimes he crawls through the pool fully dressed. Sometimes he wakes up in the night crying and I go give him a snuggle to get him back to sleep. I just want to let him be little, because I know one day I am going to turn around and he is going to be 16 years old! We have learned, and are continuing to learn, that there are things that are important and things that aren't. So for now, I just want to let him be. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The "How" Question

"You guys are so young, how have you handled this?"

We hear this statement/question quite often and I'm not sure I have a great answer.

It hasn't been easy. Or anything close to easy.

We are young, our marriage is young (3 years this month!)

We feel like we are about 50 now. 

You handle it because you have to, you don't have a choice. There were so many days when I didn't think I could handle it. Days that I wanted to curl up in a ball and pull the blankets over my head and wake up and have it all be a really, really bad dream. We were told early on that things like what we've been through can take a serious toll on marriages. It's hard enough as an individual person to try and process all of the thoughts and emotions of having your dreams shattered and harder to try and make sense of it alongside someone else. I know that I could never do it alone though, that's for sure.

While Cohen was in the NICU and Danny was making the 2 hour drive to and from Seattle twice a week, it was hard. We had to be intentional with our time. It was hard to find a balance of spending time with Cohen while also making time for us to spend time together. Sometimes we spent the time eating, sometimes taking naps, sometimes crying and sometimes laughing. I remember the first time we went out to dinner and we just sat and stared at each other and talked about how strange it felt to be out eating in public acting like we were normal when in reality our world had fallen apart. Believe it or not, I have never been a big "feelings" person and I had to make myself tell Danny what I was feeling instead of just keeping it to myself. He couldn't fix me and he couldn't make everything go away, but he could be there for me. He is an amazing source of strength through all of it.

Coming home was a huge adjustment. We had been living apart for 5 months and had gotten used to surviving however we could alone. I was used to making my own schedule and having time alone. He was used to coming home to an empty house and passing the time however he could. We had to relearn to live together. It sounds strange, but we were apart for a long time during an incredibly difficult time. We learned coping mechanisms on our own and had to rediscover how to be together under the same roof.

We also had to learn to support each other in our grief. Men and women grieve very differently and we had to learn to respect that in each other. We try to be understanding of how the other may or may not be feeling. Danny and I had different relationships with and dreams for Carter. I carried him for 25 weeks and felt his every move while Danny felt his kicks and dreamed of playing football in the backyard with his boys. Even though we grieve differently, we share the fact that it was our son and that we are both dealing with an incredible loss. After one year I can say that it is different than it was now that Cohen is home and we aren't quite as fresh in our grief, but it's still hard. I still have to fight to not keep my feelings from Danny but to be open with him. Danny has never once made me feel like I need to "get over it" or that I'm not allowed to feel the way that I do and I think that is one of the greatest ways that he has helped me through this.

So, as for how we've handled it, I'm not sure if there is a choice to be made on whether we can handle things or not. What other choice did we have? To walk away from our surviving son in his time of greatest need? That doesn't seem like a choice to me. But, I get it, when I see others in impossibly hard situations, I think the same thing "How do they do it?".  It's pretty amazing the things that people can go through and still come out on the other side. We are by no means done "handling" everything, I have a feeling it is going to be a life long process that we go through together. I know for us, we had a wonderful support system and many, many prayers and by God's grace we have made it this far.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Phone Picture Dump

I am accumulating quite the collection of pictures on my phone, so here are a few from the last couple weeks. Don't forget to read our special friend Eli's preemie story, in case you missed it, it's here.

{Cohen at the fair}

 {Cohen and Gramma on the carousel}

{Gramma, Cohen, and Eli swimming}

{Walking to the park to play, with cars and trucks of course}

{This year Cohen got to help pick the draft order for Dad's fantasy football team}

{Visiting Carter}

{Trying out his carseat inside the house}

{Diapers all cut and ready to be sewn!}

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Preemie Story - Eli

 This is the story of preemie Eli. This family is very special to us as we actually shared a NICU room with them, well technically Cohen had a private suite and Eli was a little jealous, but the same overall room. Eli's mom and I became good friends as we walked the common road of having preemies and all of the up and down emotions that go with it. We met after Cohen was moved from his first NICU room into his second NICU room and I am so, so thankful that we got to meet the Soptich family. Eli's mom, Ciera, was a true source of hope and strength for me as we have walked this journey. Their family is truly amazing and I hope our boys are good friends for a long, long time to come!

  This is a long one, but a very special part of our lives that has to be shared :) Even when Eli is 18, we will be sharing his story!

At 23 weeks into my pregnancy with Eli, I started to have high blood pressure. I had also experienced this with Rylin but it didn’t begin until 34 weeks. We made it safely to 37 weeks. She was only 4 pounds 9 ounces but healthy as could be and I had a complete normal pregnancy with Kendall.
At 27 weeks my high blood pressure was still around 140/90 on the medicine. Dr. Garde   quadrupled my amount of Labetalol and told me to take it easy and spend as much time as possible laying on my left side. Baby boy was a little small but doing fine.  
At 29 weeks Dr. Garde added one more dose of medicine and put me on complete bed rest. I believe my BP was averaging around 160/100 or so. My amniotic fluid was now a little low and baby was measuring a little too small. Luckily, we have a ton of family around to help, and they all jumped right in and took over and a lot of friends started bringing meals. 
On May 3, (day 5 of bed rest) my friend Kara came to keep me company. Funny thing is that my blood pressure was consistently staying around 120/80! I noticed after she left that evening that baby boy hadn’t been moving a ton. I decided it was probably just because I had too much time to sit and pay attention since I was laying down holding still all day. I remember talking to a few people on the phone and mentioning that he hadn’t moved a lot, but also acknowledging that my “mothers intuition” would kick in if there was a real problem. So I tried to relax. 
*blessing/miracle: this is also the same day we (after 2 months) FINALLY got approved to put the kids and my pregnancy on a state health care plan. 
On May 4th, I spent the whole day waiting for baby to move, and he did. He rolled a few times, and nudged me a few times. Nothing as strong as usual, no sharp jabs or kicks to the pelvic bone or ribs. As the evening went on I began to get more worried. My sister in law Amanda made us dinner and hung out for a while. I think my niece (then 6 months) knew something was wrong because she was pretty upset the whole evening which is unusual for her. I tried to sleep, but failed because I was getting really nervous. I had been continuously pushing on stomach all day trying to get a response from him, only feeling those little nudges. 
On May 5th, I fell asleep around 1 am. I woke up an hour or 2 later to check for movement again, after basically pushing him around in my stomach I felt him do a little roll. I dozed off. Woke again at about 5 am. Got up for a while and then laid in the recliner. This woke Rylin up and she seemed nervous too. I still had not felt a strong movement from baby. I was beginning to get really worried. I texted my doc and told her what was going on. She told us to come in right away to labor and delivery to see what was up. My intuition had kicked in, although I hoped I was over reacting. Grandma Soptich came to sit with the girls until Uncle J could come after work at 7am. Once we got to the hospital -30min drive- I was hooked up to the monitors and baby’s heart rate was pretty good (moment of relief), but he still wasn’t moving a lot. My doctor had the nurses start IV fluids. As we look back, this is when Dustin says he knew something was up, I was started on IV fluids and hadn’t even seen the Doctor yet. My BP was super high at this point. After a while of waiting, the ultrasound tech came in to check for a few things. The first thing they looked for were the black pockets (amniotic fluid) around the baby so they can measure them. The tech was looking everywhere and couldn’t find a black pocket big enough to measure. That is when I knew there was a problem, a big problem. I looked at Dustin and I lost it, before the tech could say anything I knew we had a huge problem. No fluid around our sweet boy. In Dustin’s terms “he was saran wrapped in there” and he really was. After not seeing what they wanted on the ultrasound, Dr Garde came in and said “you earned yourself a helicopter ride to Seattle”. There was no fluid and my BP was super high. She told us that she wasn’t sure how long I would stay pregnant down there. That our baby would probably be delivered in -max- 2 days. Enough time to allow for steroid shots for his lungs. Dustin left to go home to get some things. While he was gone, the helicopter decided it was too windy to fly and I had to go by ambulance. At that point, I had had one steroid shot and they had started magnesium in my IV. After begging Dr. Garde to come with me, I soon was on my way to Seattle, alone, with Dustin hopefully not too far behind. 
*blessing/miracle: the ability to text our OB at 5 am, making it possible to avoid the debacle of trying to contact whoever was on call which would have cost us a few more hours. Do you know how much we LOVE Dr. Garde?
It was a long 2 hour ambulance ride. It felt like we were going 30mph. I texted a few friends to let them know what was going on. I received texts from family saying they had already prayed for us. I still get choked up when I remember the feeling of comfort knowing that I had parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends dropping everything they were doing to get on their knees to pray for us as soon as they heard the news. It is an indescribable feeling. When we were about 20 minutes from the hospital I, of course, was looking out the back of the ambulance and had noticed we passed a dumped over milk truck, and the traffic was beginning to pile up behind it. I knew Dustin and his dad would get stuck behind it. We barely missed the backup as it was. 
*blessing/miracle: not getting trapped in the traffic. 
When we arrived at UWMC, it took maybe 10ish minutes until I was in my room. A few minutes after this, two nurses were helping get baby on the monitor. My heart rate was in the 80s. One nurse got worried and said that the baby’s was in the 80s as well. Exactly the same as mine. The other nurse said that it was my heart rate and we hadn’t found the baby’s yet. In comes doctor #1 and we found baby on the ultrasound, his heart rate peaked at 130 then dropped again. This was when the nurse put oxygen on me and I knew it was bad and getting worse. Then came a few more people. The anesthesiologist and his entourage came and started asking me a ton of questions. More people came in. Most importantly, the chief resident Dr.Josh came to the head of the bed. He was the first person to make eye contact with me out of the 20ish people who were in there. He explained that baby wasn’t doing well and asked if anyone was coming to be with me. I told him yes but they were stuck in traffic. I also told him that it didn’t matter, I knew the only solution was to get baby out, so lets get it done. I knew he agreed. I had been in this situation before, not as severe, with the same solution. He decided to get me in the OR to monitor me and the baby to see if there was time to wait. After getting to the OR there was a lot of commotion. I was introduced to someone from the NICU and a few more doctors that would be there to help the baby. That is when I realized the journey we were about to make. Dr. Josh and the first doctor kept glancing between each other and the monitors, it didn’t look good. So he made the executive decision to deliver the baby, right away. As I was laying on a cold table, half naked, shaking uncontrollably, with everyone else running around and looking at the monitors, I watched and listened to the conversation between the anesthesiologist and the doctors, trying to hear, trying not to rip the oxygen mask off my face because I couldn’t breath. Epidural? No, it would take too long. Spinal? No, blood pressure too high. I prayed in my mind they would just knock me out all the way and get it over with. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be awake when they got baby boy out of me, I wasn’t sure I could handle seeing him with out my husband by my side. Dr. Josh must have read my mind because he said there wasn’t enough time. Before I knew it, I was being prepped for my cesarean section and counting backward from 10. I was so tired and I remember thinking “don’t close your eyes, because they will think you are passed out when you really aren’t and then start to cut!”. 
The next thing I remember was was hearing my name. I was dreaming. In my dream I remember seeing Ry and her best girl cousin, Brin, walking away from me holding hands. It was sweet. Then I remembered everything and: Ouch! My stomach! The rest is a blur.

When Dustin and his dad got to the hospital, they went to the registration desk. After asking where they could find me, they were told I was just getting out of surgery. You can imagine the surprise he felt, only last hearing from me when I was in the ambulance and I told him about the traffic from the dumped over milk truck. He just found out that not only was his wife in surgery, but his son was already in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). They made their way to see Eli for the first time and were amazed at what they saw. He was 996 grams (2 pounds, 3 ounces) and about 14 inches long. Dustin said there were tubes everywhere, and he was definitely concerned. The best part of this story is about Eli's nurse. To give you a little background info, my husband works hard for a living. By that I mean, his hands are stained with dirt and rough with calluses. His pants look like he has been rolling in the mud, even after they have been washed multiple times. That being said, after scrubbing up at the sink by the entrance to the NICU, he was clean but maybe, just maybe, Eli's very first nurse (Heidi) thought Dustin was too dirty and reminded him to wash up nice and good before even thinking about "touching your baby". After surveying the situation, a son and his father seeing their miniature posterity for the first time, they made their way back to my room and were told I would be back shortly. From what I hear, I was a mess when I returned to the room. I had been on large doses of magnesium, and now a ton of painkillers, add that on top of recovering from the anesthesia from surgery...I was a hot mess! I had to stay on the mag for another 24 hours which would make it hard to go see our baby. 

After a good nights rest in the hospital room (yeah right!) I felt up to making a trip to the NICU. I tried to get out of bed as soon as the magnesium was stopped, but almost passed out. The nurses decided they could wheel the bed down to see Eli. Although it is a huge blur in my brain, I will never forget the trip. We started down the hallway through a few sets of heavy closed doors and turned around what seemed like 50 corners. We made our way through the doors to the NICU and Dustin signed me in. We stopped at the big metal sink so Dustin could scrub up and make sure he was extra clean. I still have no idea how that hospital bed fit down the hallway to Eli's room. I didn't know much about where he was staying, I'm not gonna lie, it was far from fancy and not what I had expected. The bed crashed through the doorway to room 3. There was barely room to fit the head of the bed next to Eli's incubator. I don't really remember my first glimpse of him. He looked like a real baby surprising me with all his hair. He didn't move much and neither did I. I just stared at him, not believing he was ours. I was groggy and pretty out of it so we went back to my room, the bed banging empty incubators and oxygen cans along the way. I don't think I saw him again until either late that night or the next day. I do remember I needed to take a shower. I needed to get up and was beginning to grasp the motivation to do so. Later that night I decided it was time to get up and walk. After gaining my balance and putting on my fancy hospital socks, I did laps around the maternity ward. I think my nurse wanted me to stop but I kept saying I needed to do one more and I needed to take a shower!

Throughout the weekend We made multiple visits to see Elijah. Saturday morning, May 7th, we went to our first morning "rounds". Rounds are a meeting in which the Neonatologist, the Nurse Practitioners, the Residents, the Attendees, and Eli's nurse for the day, all meet to come up with a game plan for each baby in the NICU for the day. Problems with the baby, how to help, what tests to do, and so on. The news for Eli wasn't the best. He had started to turn a dusky grayish blue, he was swelling up and retaining fluid, his heart was enlarged, they needed to check for a brain bleed, and his kidneys and intestines weren't working. Maneesh (the Neonatologist) was so great at explaining this all to us and we left rounds hopeful, but worried. Eli was sick, and they were running tests to find out why. Maneesh told us that so far all the tests they had done came back showing nothing. There was no reason for Eli to be so sick. He hypothesized that Eli had taken such a huge hit on his health right before he was born and that was what he was trying to recover from. In the meanwhile, they kept doing tests incase they missed anything.

On Sunday, I was discharged from the hospital. After going back and forth in my brain about what to do when we got discharged, I decided it was right for me to be home with my family. I couldn't drive, I didn't have a room at the hospital, and our girls needed me.
I needed to go home and organize my brain, our new life, and heal before we could plan how to conquer the next 10 weeks with a sick baby in a hospital 2 hours away from our house. So, on Sunday night, we left our 4 day old 996 gram sick baby in the hospital and drove 100 miles away from him.

On the Thursday when Eli was one week old, I went to rounds with the doctors and nurses. A new Neonatologist was in there with us. Which also brought a new pair of eyes. After doing the usual updates on the status of Eli,  he looked at me and asked if I had held my baby yet. Honestly, I hadn't even thought about it. It seemed so far out of reach because he was so sick, the thought just never really crossed my mind. He was a little shocked when I told him that no, I had not held my baby yet. He looked at the nurses and made a goal for me to hold Eli before we left him again on Sunday. I was a little nervous instantly. I told them all that I didn't need to hold Eli, I didn't want to do anything to make him uncomfortable. The team assured me it would do nothing but good for the baby. So I tried to not get too excited, in case plans changed. So, Friday came. Eli was 8 days old when I held him. It was a night I will never forget. Dustin and I were staying in a room on the eighth floor of the hospital. We were told in preparation for holding him, we had to commit to at least two hours in one spot next to the incubator in a pleather recliner. We got to his bed side around 9:30pm. The best way to hold a new baby, especially one weighing 2 pounds, is called skin on skin, or kangaroo care. Basically the baby wears nothing but a diaper and lays on the bare chest of mom or dad. I (of course because I am mom:)) got first dibs. Eli's night girlfriend, Lacey, was on shift that night and took care of everything. I snuggled into the pleather recliner. Lacey opened the incubator and started to arrange his tubes. The nurses there are so amazing with these little teeny babies. It was so comforting to see her pick him up. She was so comfortable holding him, treating him like he was a full term newborn, with a little more caution for his tubes and breakable body. Before I knew it, he was on my chest. Instantly his respiratory rate calmed and he relaxed. Lacey taped his breathing tube, feeding tube, and IV to my shoulder, and also to the chair in one or two more places, just to make sure they didn't get pulled out. She laid a few warm blankets on him and me and left us. Dustin and I could not stop smiling. I realized that all the fear I had began to melt away. He was our baby. I was sure I would bawl the first time I held him, but I was grinning ear to ear.  I could barely feel his weight on my torso. His head was about the size of a baseball and it fit just below my collarbone. His scrawny little body down to his toes reached a few inches above my belly button. I could feel him breathing. I could see his furry back and face. He looked up at me when I talked.

my eyes are crazy, but it is the only one with him
looking up at me the first time I held him :)
He must have liked his time being held, because the next night I walked in to see a used kit from the respiratory therapists. At first my heart jumped because I thought something was wrong. Then I realized I could see more of his face because he was breathing with just a CPAP, he was no longer intubated! Two days later, the girls got to meet him for the first time. Dustin also held him. When he did, Eli was swaddled. Like a big boy. Our baby, who was just over a week old and gestationally 31 weeks was doing things that seemed so normal for a full term baby. Things that I would have never imagined. This was just the beginning.

 Eli was born on May 5, 2011 at 30 weeks. He weighed just 2 lbs 3 oz and was 14 inches long. Eli had a very rough start and is one incredible little fighter! Despite one bout with pneumonia and a short stay at the hospital, Eli is doing amazingly well today. (Cohen would like to add that although he is a month younger than Eli, he has him beat in the weight department :)

{This is Eli at 3 weeks old and 10 months old}

{Eli and his adorable sisters, aren't they all the cutest!?}

{And here is Eli today! A wonderful one year old and some months!}
Photo: Bubbas loves his star blanky! 

{The boys at the March of Dimes on Eli's birthday}

{The boys and moms with some of their best NICU gals}

If you would like to share your preemie story, let us know! You can email us at We love to read and share about other preemie miracles.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Processing the NICU

In October, Cohen will have been home for a whole year. Time seems to have taken on new characteristics since our boys were born. Sometimes it passes so incredibly fast and yet we have had moments and days that have felt like years. Although it's been a year since we walked finally walked out the NICU doors for good, it feels like I am just now starting to process Cohen's NICU stay.

After the twins were born, we went into survival mode and were somewhat numb to the situation. We knew that we were going through difficult times and we knew that the things we were experiencing with Cohen were not normal newborn happenings, but I'm not sure we really knew. We knew our tiny baby was sick, but we didn't comprehend the complexities of his medical issues and what they meant for him, it just seemed normal at the time. It was such a moment to moment time that anything past one day to the next didn't make sense. All we could handle was one success or trial at a time. It was either a good day (hour) or bad one. We knew, but I'm not sure we truly understood.

Now, nearly a year later, as I look back at all those pictures of Cohen with a tube down his throat and remember how his lungs were bleeding and they weren't sure what it meant for him or why he was having bleeding, it hurts my heart. When I think about how basically didn't pee for 5 days when he was in kidney failure, see the pictures of him with raw, open skin on his face from where they ripped the tape off of his breathing tube the day he turned blue and required CPR, it makes me wonder how? So many people tell us we have been so strong, and I honestly don't know how. Other than to say that we didn't have a choice. How could we walk away from our child in his time of greatest need?

I can say that I'm glad I didn't know. There were days where I think I caught glimpses of how not normal all of this was and how serious the situation was, but I'm thankful that for the most part I didn't really know.

While I remember the fear, I also remember the joy that we felt throughout. Even though we didn't fully comprehend all of the harsh details, we understood how blessed we were to have Cohen. We celebrated every month on his birthday, we cherished the moments we got to hold him for the first time. We had a good few minutes of video from the first time we really saw him moving his little feet and legs because it was so amazing. I was so happy the day that I got to put clothes on Cohen for the first time at over 2 months old. The day that he moved to an open crib was one of the best, because it meant that I got to hold him whenever I wanted.

As I continue to process and look back at those days, I just can't even believe how much Cohen has been through and what a miracle he truly is.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Videos, March of Dimes, and Diapers

Just a few random things today...

Cohen and I are both recovering from colds. Cohen's seems to be fairly harmless so far, thankfully. I still have a few moments of panic when I think about him getting really sick, but so far, so good. Please continue to keep him in your prayers, I know colds don't seem like that big of a deal to most people, but to a preemie it can be very serious. His regular pediatrician is also out on maternity leave and I don't want to take him in to see someone new (if necessary, again, so far it's not necessary).

This video has been making the rounds on facebook, but if you haven't watched it, please do. It's about 15 minutes long and I think it's a very accurate portrayal of all the emotions that NICU parents and baby loss parents go through. I don't feel like it was sugar coated like so many of them are and also wasn't overly dramatized. It just felt...real.

And also, for those of you who donated for our March of Dimes team way back in May, we were one of the top 20 teams in the Puget Sound and we raised nearly $2000 and altogether the Puget Sound March for Babies raised over $500,000! Thank you all so much, that was a really wonderful day for us and it felt good to be able to give back and help other preemies and their families. Here is a picture of the sign with all the butterflies of babies names who died because of prematurity. It seems like there are more than 400 babies that pass away in a year, as we have already donated more diapers than that and have only hit a small number of hospitals so far, although it may depend on their definition of "baby".

A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam           
And for a brief moment,
It's glory and beauty belong to our world

But then it must fly again.
And though we hate to see it go,
We feel so blessed to have seen it.
---author unknown

Lastly, if you are local, there is going to be a small diaper party going on at Tangled Threads in town. They have graciously opened up there shop for us to use to sew diapers. We will be there from 10-1 and lunch will be provided. Feel free to stop by or stay for the whole time. As always, even if you can't sew there are still lots of things for you to do so please don't let that stop you from coming! If you want to help but won't be able to stop by, I am more than happy to give you fabric and patterns to cut out diapers, this is always a huge help. Also, if you want to donate fabric or plain white thread, you can drop some off (or purchase it there!) at Tangled Threads and just let them know it is for the diapers. Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who have already done that!! Did you know that Teeny Tears has donated over 4000 diapers and has thousands more in the works!? Awesome huh? I think so! It is  bittersweet that so many families are going through the loss of a child, but our prayer is that these diapers will bring a small amount of comfort to these families. Feel free to ask questions if you have any or let me know if you want to get involved.

Monday, August 20, 2012


The last few days have been hard. Cohen is at such a fun age right now, he is learning and changing so much. I love to just sit and watch him "work" and play. But then there is always this little empty space next to him. A space where his twin should have been so that I could watch them play and learn together. I have a feeling that space will always be there. That little space where Carter should be, right alongside his brother.

Sometimes Danny and I will just sit and watch Cohen and say "Can you imagine what it would have been like with both of them?" And honestly, I can say yes, I imagine it all the time. We talk about how cute we think Cohen is and we say "Can you imagine how cute they both would have been together? Would we be able to handle the cuteness of two?" I wish I could know the cuteness of those two together.
I will always wonder about what could have been and I will always hurt for what isn't. I love this song that is below. I know that we will all be together in heaven again one day, but sometimes that day seems so far away. I hope I'm not misunderstood, it's not that I want to leave this world, because I love my family and I want to spend every minute I can with them. But, I also know that there is a longing deep in my heart for heaven, to meet Jesus and to be with my little boy. I am incredibly thankful that I have reason to hope and faith that we will be together again one day.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer 2012 - NWWF

Every year the fair comes to town and it's a pretty big deal around here. When I was younger, I was in 4-H and would pretty much spend all day, every day at the fair and loved it. I thought Cohen might like to go and see all the activity and the animals. We met up with Gramma and Karen and the kids at the fair bright and early. We saw the animals, sampled the food, looked at the little shops and then the big kids were ready for rides. Cohen also ran into a few of his friends that he got to meet in person for the first time. (I forgot my camera so all these pictures are from Karen)

{"Hi baby Coh-ey"}

{Cow barn, "Uh mom, it kinda stinks in here"}

{Cohen loved the goats and would stick his fingers over by them and then giggle when they nibbled his hands}


 {Water break}

{Trying on fancy hats}

Cohen got to go on his very first carousel ride. He liked it the first few rounds and then I think his lack of morning caught up with him and he just wanted to snuggle the rest of the time. He also got to go on again later with Gramma. It started getting pretty hot out as we have been having weather in the 90s lately. We decided to get BBQ for lunch and split a moo-wich for desert (the best ice cream sandwiches ever). Cohen also ran into a few friends and got to meet them in person for the first time. All in all, a successful fair experience!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fess Up Friday

* I got Cohen a book from the library and I wiped it off with a Lysol wipe before letting him have it

* I wore a swimsuit cover up as a dress around the house because I didn't have any shorts I wanted to wear

* I put a load of laundry on our bed to fold, then I took a nap instead, next to the laundry.

* I wrote about the upcoming cold/flu season and how we were have to start being super careful about germs again and then the next day I got sick...

* I squished a bug in a tissue (ok, fine it was a washcloth... the bug scared me and that was the closest I could find to squish it with) and then I saved it to show Danny to make sure it wasn't a termite

* I had to ask a friend to make sure that NE stood for Nebraska

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer 2012 - Air Show

And so it goes...just after posting this about cold/flu/RSV season, I've been a little under the weather. I spent most of the week trying to rest and trying to stay away from Cohen. He spent some time at various family members' houses in an effort to avoid germs (thank you!)

We did rally for to go to my parent's house for the Abbotsford Airshow over the weekend. Every year they do an airshow right across the Canadian border and they always fly right over the house. This year they didn't get quite as close, but it was still pretty cool. Cohen also got to meet his Great Auntie Phyllis and Great Uncle Dennis for the first time which was pretty fun.


{I ate 3 pieces of pie since berries are full of antioxidants, you know, to get rid of the cold}

Blech. Is it just me or is getting sick harder as you get older? We are so thankful that I found the germs and not Cohen (or Danny).

3rd Anniversary

Danny and I will are celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary today! Probably needless to say, this has been a long, hard year for us. We spent our last anniversary camping, a little bit "away" but within close distance to the hospital and with cell phone service so we could get back to the NICU quickly if needed. In some ways it feels like we have been married way, way longer than 3 years (in a good way).

As I see new couples getting married and saying their vows, I can't help but think back to the day we said our vows.

... to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part...

As we said these vows, we knew that there would be bumps in the road, but we had no idea the mountains we would have to climb and the valleys we would go through.

As newlyweds, you have a lot of dreams and plans for your life together. You don't think about tragedy happening, especially so early on in marriage. Trials and adversity teach you about who someone really is. How people respond in difficult situations shows a lot about their true character. I have learned a lot about Danny over the last year. When you get married you think you know someone, but as you go through the deep valleys of life, you learn so much more. There is no way I would have made it through all of this without Danny by my side. There were days when we didn't even know what to say to each other, we would just climb in bed and cry for our boys.

Danny has been strong and brave. He has stood up for me and stood by me. He hasn't tried to "fix" me or caused me to feel like I need to move on. He knows when to cheer me up and when I just need to be sad. He lets me be a little old lady in my bathrobe and slippers at 6 pm. He has always allowed me to just be who I am, whether I am being rational or completely ridiculous (which happens often), and that's one of my favorite things about him. He is an amazing Dad to both of our boys. Cohen always gets the biggest smile on his face when Daddy gets home.

There's no way we ever could have known what we were going to go through on that day that we got married. But if I could go back and pick who I wanted with me on the journey, it would be Danny every single time. We have grown and changed in so many ways over the last 3 years both as individuals and as husband and wife. The more I get to know Danny and who he is, the more I love him even more. Happy Anniversary!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

An Un-perfect Birth Story

I have been struggling with a hard truth over the last few months and I'm still working on it. There are people that don't want to hear our story. It's too painful, it will never happen to them, we didn't try hard enough are the usual reasons. No one has said this to me directly, mind you, but it's been implied. Stories like ours hard difficult to hear, I get that.

I think that's why preemie moms and baby loss moms tend to stick together. We view life differently because we have experienced, or been very close to experiencing, death. People who haven't experienced death or deep sorrow generally can't imagine that something like this would happen to them and we must have done something wrong. Death isn't something people want to talk about, especially when it concerns children. And why would anyone? It's terrible and heartbreaking and it isn't supposed to happen. Parents aren't supposed to outlive their children.

At first I was somewhat offended at the fact that all the happy pregnant people didn't want to hear a not so perfect birth story. But then I realized, why would someone want to hear about all the things that could possibly go wrong or about losing their child. I recently saw someone tell another mom that twin pregnancies were no higher risk than a normal pregnancy. I debated yelling and screaming and telling them everything we went through, but what good would that do? Do I really want to rain on someone else's parade and excitement of having twins? I don't want to be negative, I don't. It's just that our reality is that things went poorly and we are still dealing with it. Sometimes the case of the "it's not fair!"'s overcomes me and I feel like it's my duty to tell people that life isn't all rainbows and flowers. But what good would that do? I would love to go back to a place where I didn't think things this hard could ever happen to me. I wasn't completely naive, Danny and I have both been through a fair amount of "life", but life used to be different. And why would I want to take that away from someone else. Of course if there was a situation where I felt like maybe I could educate or help someone I would do that, but it's not my job to be a Debbie Downer or to ensure the world knows that bad things can happen to anyone. Sometimes its just hard to not have gotten to experience a happy birth and all the things that go with it.

As hard of days as I have, there is still good. This doesn't mean denying that we have hard times, because we do, but I think I need to work to focus on the good. I think my job and my way to honor Carter is to let people know that even though times can be so, so hard, they can also be so, so good and our lives are better because of Carter. I will never say that I'm glad we went through it or that I wouldn't change anything, because I would in a heartbeat, but I can say that out of the ashes comes beauty. Our birth story is painful, but out of it we got two beautiful little boys, an incredible amount of love and support, and a new perspective on life and that's a story worth telling.

"But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" Galatians 5:22-23

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Link Up - Tell Us Your Preemie Story

I love reading other preemie stories and I thought you might, too! We are trying out a link up to other preemie blogs. If you want to share your story and don't have a blog, please let me know, I would love to post your story.

Summer 2012 - Camping Take 3

A few weekends ago, we had our third successful camping trip! We decided to take it up a notch after practice camping and successful tent camping with other people. This time we went camping with our friends who also have kids. It was so much fun and the kids all did so well. Prepare to be impressed: We camped with three kids 3 and under! Okay maybe it's not that impressive, but we were pretty proud of ourselves.

 The Gagliardi family was in town from Idaho, having just moved there from Wisconsin. They came back to visit their old stomping grounds and we were thrilled to see them. I have known Tiffany and Brian for one year longer than I've known Danny. We all worked at the same camp and we both met our husbands there! I don't actually call Tiffany "Tiffany", I call her Kuma, which is short for Kuma la Vista. At the camp we worked at, we all had camp names. Mine was Haleakala, Tiffany's: Kuma, Brian: Das Hampsta, Danny: Topple. I have only known Kuma as Kuma and I just can't make the switch to calling her by her real name, I don't deal well with change.


Anyway, the Gag's were in town for week and stayed at my parents house for part of their time here so we got to spend some good time with them which was so nice. They have been way too far away for too long.

Friday around lunchtime we packed up and headed out. I had made the reservations at the only place I could find in Washington on our side of the mountains. I kept telling everyone we were going to Clear Lake Campground. Danny was excited to fish although someone told him that they had never heard of a campground at Clear Lake. Every time we looked up directions we would get different ones, some in Eastern WA and some closer to us. I wrote down the 3 lines of directions from the camp website and off we went. It was somewhere near where the campsite was supposed to be that Danny and I had different ideas of where we should be going. He had looked up Clear Lake and was going towards it while I was trying to get him to follow the directions I had written out. Eventually, after making several u-turns and Danny losing his driving privileges, we figured out that it was in fact Clear Creek and not Clear Lake. Details....

The campsite was actually quite nice and no mud in sight like our last camping experience. We set up our tents while the boys played in the dirt. We made foil dinners to eat just like we used to at camp and they were delicious.

{Camping boys}

 {Foil dinners, yum yum}

 Saturday morning we woke up to find little Daniel with about 15 mosquito bites on his head alone. Poor little fella. We cooked some blueberry pancakes and eggs for breakfast over the campfire and then headed off to find a park. While we were there a man walked through with his pet wolf. It seemed fairly friendly but I didn't let Cohen too close to it as he hasn't learned to be very gentle yet (just ask Russell out kitty). It's not everyday you see a wolf at the park!

 {Playing at the park}
 {Wolf at the park...on a leash?}

 From the park we went to the grocery store where I questioned the workers about how to climb the mountain we could see at the park. The mountain itself was too snowy to hike but we did find a map that they took off the wall and gave to us. After a quick trip to the local ranger station, we found a nice little walk we could do with the kids. It was flat with views of the river but not close enough for anyone to decide to go swimming.

{The sleepiest little hiker}

{How sweet are they!?}

This was probably one of my favorite parts of the camping trip. It was so nice out and the river was so pretty. I carried Cohen in the Ergo on the first half of the hike and he was so good. The whole way there were these little white butterflies (moths?) that I kept seeing and I just kept thinking of Carter. It felt like I had both of my boys with me and it was just so nice and peaceful. The outdoors is so good for my soul.

For dinner Saturday night we put some potatoes in the fire to bake and made hotdogs and the menfolk poured chili over it all. After the kids went to bed we got to sit around the fire and do some catching up.

Aside from a broken camp chair, a few runaways and some sippy cup/bottle borrowing, the trip was fairly uneventful. The kids were all so, so good. No one fell in the fire or the river or down the toilet. Cohen did have one minor incident with the gravel and now has a few scratches on his head, but that was it. Success! We had a lot of fun and can't wait to do it again.

p.s. The men insisted that we stuff our propane-less camp stove into the car at the very last minute. We didn't use it one single time, except to prop up the camera to take this picture. SO glad we brought it.