W&G 38 Months Old


It's been a really good month, all things considered. It's been a full month since I've been home and I think the combo of me being back, Jessica being back and Dave being back at work (not that we don't want him home!) has really helped the boys get back in a routine. They don't really like Dad going to work, but I think now that we've had a few weeks of the same schedule, things are starting to settle in.

Lemos Farm
It's taken a few weeks for me to get into a routine myself but now with Colette being 35 days old, I do feel like there is a new normal, at least for now. The past two weeks the boys have gone to camp each morning. Last week they attended an outdoor camp in the Presidio where they even got to take the Presidigo bus to visit different areas like Crissy Field and the horse stables.
























I think they enjoyed the class well enough, but all we got out of them, or G specifically, was that he wasn't allowed to pick up sticks. Apparently he also got a time out one day for not listening and staying with the group, but the teacher said he was trying much harder after that. I'm not really sure what kind of class doesn't allow the kids to pick up sticks, perhaps he was trying to bring them on the bus, or was bumping people or something. You never know the whole story with a 3-year old.

This week they started summer school at Calvary and I'm not really sure if it's any different than what they'll be doing in the fall. Drop-off was easy and it seems like they're having fun. They're coming home covered in paint and yesterday the highlight was that they got to water the plants on the rooftop playground. G has done really well with using the potty (W too) and in general, the accident count has seriously decreased over the past couple weeks. The only problems we encounter is when he can't unbutton his pants (which are too tight to be able to pull down buttoned) in time and no one is right there to do it for him.

Jessica has picked them up from their camp each day. Some days they go to the park for a bit, other days they just come home for lunch. The big change is that over the past couple weeks, naps have seriously declined. Even for William. Jessica was putting him down and by 2:30 he was still awake, which means she couldn't put G down. Unfortunately, despite decent attempts, we weren't getting them down any earlier at night, so eventually after 4 or 5 days of not napping, they'd finally nap again, leading to a later bedtime.

Dave and I barely have time to talk since he's now doing his workouts in the morning. We see each other for dinner, then he does his routine with the boys, I finish up their bedtime and immediately head to the hospital until about 10:30 most nights, by which time he's already asleep since he's waking up so early. It was nice that we were able to go out to dinner last Saturday as it finally gave us some time to really catch up and get on a new plan for their schedule. We decided to drop the nap completely, which I know will still be a bit of a transition, especially for W. Having twins, I always worried how we'd manage this since W needs more sleep, but since he showed us over the past few weeks he doesn't necessarily need it daily, I feel like we need to make our move while we can. There is definitely crankiness, some falling asleep in the stroller on the way to the park around 3:30, but we're pushing through. It's a lot of work for Jessica, but should make our evenings better with hopefully an easier bedtime.

The other big change is that they are officially in their new room! Photos to come :) We were nervous about them moving down there and they had mentioned that they would be scared. Unfortunately with everything that's happened, the room has been set up in pieces over the last few weeks, but we finally made some good progress this past weekend and got a lot of it set up. They were really excited and wanted to sleep down there Sunday night, so we went for it. This was also our first day of the new schedule:

6pm dinner
6:30-7pm bathtime, getting ready for bed and shows with Dad
7pm books and goodnight with Mom

They had been having shows twice a day so we now only do that at night which I'm happier about. We've also cut out a lot of the extras at bedtime -- last potty, last milk, etc. We had even introduced a treat trying to bribe them to do their last potty at last potty time and not 5 minutes later when we left the room. That was more trouble than it was worth. It helps that after dinner, they head downstairs and don't come back up. They take their bath in the bathroom in their room, come out to the playroom to get dressed and watch shows, and then it's back into their room for bedtime with me. I am so happy with how they've done! Yes, we're still working out a few things, like who's bed to read books in, how to switch off, which lights to leave on, but I think we're making progress. They've done well with going to the bathroom on their own, either before I leave the room or right after, but at least now they're not at their door calling to us that they have to go potty. W has been so tired that he settles quickly, G still is a little restless, but I've been able to have a much calmer approach to bedtime. I have it in my head now that it will be at least 7-7:30, but I've built in a buffer until 8pm that I sit out on the couch outside their room, and can go back in and walk G to his bed, help him after he's poops, etc, without feeling annoying that they're still not in bed. I think I've been fully done and upstairs by 7:45 each night. We don't need to use the monkey lock either (which we haven't been using for a few weeks anyway, since it broke).

We've been surprised when each morning they come upstairs on their own, after waiting for sun to come out on their clock. W has been sleeping in later too, probably making up for the extra sleep he needs. They love their new room and are excited about the big bed and the blanket and everything. Hopefully that doesn't wear off, but I have to say, it's a pretty cool room :)

Initially my plan was to keep their old room mostly set up (since much of their new room is new stuff anyway) and let them decide when they wanted to move downstairs, so they didn't feel like they were pushed out. They were so excited about it though, that W asked on Monday morning, 'can we sleep down there again?!' that I took advantage of the excitement and moved everything else down there and have basically stripped their old room to just the stuff that will be used for Colette. So far, they haven't been upset about that. G did ask about moving his yellow dresser downstairs but I told him he has a new dresser down there and that we'd paint the yellow dresser for Colette to use. At first he didn't like that, but now he's asked me about painting it so I guess he's okay with it. I know anything can change tonight or anytime, but we're off to a great start and it's been nice to clear out their old room and start to get rid of stuff before the new stuff for Colette starts arriving.






always the funniest sleeping positions for G!

Eating has also improved over the past month. They're not eating any better than they were before I went to the hospital, but they're back on track. Like I said, I think it's been helpful to get back in the swing of the old routine, even if there are some new changes.

I feel like Dave and I are beginning to find some balance on the weekends too, of family time, time for each of us to spend with Colette, as well as a break for each of us. That last part could still use some improvement, especially since they're not napping, but I feel like we've had a lot of fun as a family this past month, going to the fair, the Giants game, hosting a BBQ with all the cousins last weekend, etc. Dave and I are starting our weekly date nights as well. Dave has been enjoying the new TV upstairs and watching old movies which I'll been at the hospital each night. It's a nice break for him with all he's managed over the past couple months.



I think one of our big goals for the next month is to figure out a way for us to get a break without them napping and one thing I'm looking into is creating 'quiet time boxes' for them with different activities that they can do independently (and ideally quietly) to give them some downtime without actually napping. This is where having twins is a challenge again though... debating whether to separate them or not, because the time won't be 'quiet' if they're together. In fact, they've actually been super rambunctious during the time when they'd typically be napping.


As far as play, they're not home nearly as much but from what I've noticed, they haven't been playing much with their toys. They're still very into playing fireman or garbage truck and generally collect things around the house that assist in their imaginative play. They had fun using their cozy coupes as golf carts (Ma's idea when she visited) and now have elaborate games with Dedee involving parking spots, meter maids and avoiding getting towed :)

Free day at the zoo with Tenzing and Uncle Jon

It's weird not to be spending as much time with the boys, but the current arrangement is actually working really well. I like my time with them in the mornings, still see them at points during the day, but it's a relief to know that Jessica has them all day and I don't have to rush from the hospital to make on time to pick them up. Especially now that they're not napping, I'm not sure how I'd have the energy to go to the hospital, entertain them in the afternoon and then head back to the hospital in the evening. Even though I'm spending up to 6 hours a day holding Colette, which you'd think is pretty relaxing (and it is, I've read several books), being there is very draining and I definitely need a break to do nothing when I get home. Though I was hesitant to have so much help, it really has worked out for the best, at this at this time. Jessica has been extremely helpful and despite them not napping, has kept up with all of the household laundry, kept things clean, makes the boys smoothies and packs their lunch each day, cleans up after dinner, definitely more than she was responsible for before just so we can focus our energy on the few most important things.



I don't think we're getting much closer to taking the boys over to meet Colette, but maybe when she gets off CPAP we can finally do it. They understand enough about what's going on, and we have several books that do a good job explaining it for this age, but they don't ask too many random questions about her unless I bring it up. Hopefully by next month's post, they will have gotten to meet her. They were given a little goodie bag from the social worker for the NICU, and they loved their big brother shirts and little dogs. They're still calling her Rosie (after Calliou's sister) often, but occasionally will acknowledge her as Colette.


To my boys:
I am so impressed with how you've adapted over the past month. It feels so great to see you acting more like yourselves (even if that includes plenty of threenager moments!). I know change is so hard on kids, and you guys especially since we've always kept things so consistent, but it's a relief to know how quickly things can be turned around. You both seem happier and more comfortable and have fallen into a nice new routine. This was a big month for you and you've done so well going off to your drop-off camps, and now staying downstairs in your new room. I really can't believe how easy that transition has been (though I know it will still be a work in progress!). I miss spending more time with you but love our mornings and evening books and the additional help during the day has allowed me to be more patient and present when I am with you. It's been a good month all things considered and I can't believe how much you've grown up!


  • You've had a lot of adventures with Dad this month, like riding in a bike trailer through Golden Gate Park or in the peti-cab on the Embarcadero
  • You imitated me pumping one day
  • If I ever start laughing really hard, you both join in and it's the best 
  • You both conveniently saved your poops for the woods... luckily I had two emergency diapers...


William. I'm so glad your high voice has (mostly) left the building. It still comes out when you're tired and grumpy but overall it's so much better, which leads me to believe that you're feeling better in general. You've definitely had your moments when you get so mad and smack G and then get really upset. You know to use your words and usually can't get them out until you've followed your immediate instinct to hit him. You're still so expressive with your face, it's hilarious and in general you have the attitude of a teenager, practically angled with hand-on-hip :)
  • I asked you if you wanted to make something for Jessica for her birthday and you got so excited and said, ‘cookies! fire truck and garbage truck and Easter bunny cookies, because the Easter bunny is a girl. I want to put a ‘gina on it!' 
  • You asked Dad when you could help with the baby’s diapers and Dad said when she comes home, so you said you’d take the diapers to the hospital
  • You swim teacher is black and you refer to him as the 'boy with the brown face'
  • You jumped up and down (likely from a sugar rush) shouting 'this is the best day ever!' while at the Giant's game (after having a bunch of cotton candy) 
  • You were using the screw driver, G wanted it so asks when you'd be done. You said 11. G said he couldn't wait that long and says, what about 16-11. You say, ok 16-11. Then when you do finish, you said, 'okay, it's 14'.  
  • You were so excited after sleeping in your new room, the next morning you came upstairs and said, 'can we do that again?!' 
  • Lucas dumped a bunch of glitter in your hair and it was at least a week until it was all out
George. I'm so proud of you for getting back on track with your potty. You've been a bit clingy with Dad, which is understandable. You also still cry pretty easily, whether it's for something legit like hurting yourself, or just when you're frustrated or not getting your way. We've definitely had some battles-of-the-wills and I do everything I can to be consistent. Dad has said, 'why didn't you just fill up his cup?' when it lead to probably an hour of crying and screaming. I know I need to pick my battles, but I'm trying to be very consistent and get us all back on track, and overall, I think it's working. You are as strong-willed as ever and always want to be in control and many times my old tricks of giving choices or asking for your help don't work as well as they did previously. I think overall, you've really improved and seem to be readjusting to everything really well.
  • You think it's so funny to go take books out of the special book closet
  • You have been obsessed about certain books. Like when W hit you, you made a huge deal about getting out the Hands Are Not for Hitting Book. One day you didn't want to hear Dedee and I talking so you asked, 'can we go to the store and get a book about not talking?'
  • All you would tell us about your outdoor camp is that they wouldn't let you pick up sticks...
  • We were talking about how you'll need to get a job and make your own money if you want to buy things and you said, 'I will get in my uber and go to work!' (just like Dad :)
  • You got a time-out at outdoor camp and when I pulled you aside at bedtime to ask what happened, you said, 'I was just trying to pick flowers for you'. Awww

Baby Colette, One Month Old



It's hard to believe we're at the one month mark. I think like most new parents, on the one hand, it's crazy to think that a month has already passed by, but on the other hand, the days have been long. I remember at times wishing away the newborn days with the boys as it was so tough in the beginning. Now, I'd give anything to have those early moments at home with her, but again, I'm wishing away these days and months as that will mean we're closer to actually having her home.

As was to be expected, it was a month of ups and downs. My time in the hospital was actually pretty good, despite those being some of her toughest days. Then there were some really great days (when I got to hold her for the first time) when you feel like, okay, we can do this. Then there was a period where she was stable but not much progress was being made... which now I realize are actually great days. Over the past week or so, there have been some dips... the fluid turning milky signifying chylothorax, taking her off of all feeds and increased oxygen need/her body working harder to breath. I think the rough days are even harder now as we're further into the process as I feel like we should have made more progress and it gets really frustrating. Overall, she's had some major accomplishments: becoming stable after birth, getting off the ventilator, weaning off of blood pressure medicine and getting both chest tubes out (though I'm not holding my breath - they were removed as they were coming out of place. The fluid was minimal so they're just going to see what happens). I need to focus on that but it's hard to accept that even after a month, we're still early in this long road to recovery. Still, the last few days have been promising, we even held her three separate times the other day -- which is quite a feat since the transfer is a process. I have to believe it was so good for her to be laying on us, instead of her same little bed, for more than six hours.

Despite not having Colette at home with us 24/7, I do feel like I'm learning more about her personality. The doctor recently told me that she has some great personality traits for someone in this situation -- she's feisty, strong and let's you know what she likes and doesn't like. The last one is actually really important to a doctor as it helps them get ahead of potential issues down the road if they're able to get a heads up that a certain position isn't working, new device, etc.

Likes:
  • Being held
  • Being patted on her chest
  • Her paci, if you can get it in her  mouth which often you can't
  • Kicking her feet out of her snuggle up
  • Stretching out long (including her arms)
  • Laying on her tummy
  • Sound machine
  • Containment care - cupping her feet or head, hand laying on her body
  • Shushing

Dislikes:
  • The prongs on Cpap
  • Loud noises (including talking, other babies crying, etc.)
  • Having a wet or dirty diaper
  • The breathing tube (luckily that's gone!)
  • Having chest tubes (no one would!)

Sweet Baby Colette. Well, this is definitely not how we pictured your first month of life. First of all, I'm still supposed to be pregnant. Secondly, all the struggles you're enduring and will continue to in the coming months. You are so strong and feisty. When you were on your tummy today, you totally pushed yourself up, not bad for 37 gestational weeks. You may be one tough cookie, but it has been so hard to be strong for you. Many days I'm totally fine, but those days where I sit by your bedside for hours when you can't get comfortable, you're working so hard to breath or being pricked multiple times for an IV are the absolute worst. I really can't think of anything worse than watching you be in pain when there's nothing I can do about it, not even something simple like picking you up and rocking you. Daily, I see families leaving the hospital with their new baby and just hope that we'll eventually get that day. You're hanging in there, and making progress, but it's going to be a slow road that I'm working as hard as possible to be patient for.  For now, I'll savor the time I get to hold you (which I think you like too) and the rare moments when you open both eyes. You have George's mouth but otherwise look very much like William. Despite all your puffiness from the excess fluid, you still have skinny Geilhufe legs. You have dark brown hair, and lots of it (so soft!), which is unfortunately quite matted at this point (the nurse called it curly but I had to correct her... you have gone your entire life without a bath or shampooed hair). Eye color is too tough to tell at this point but definitely more brown than anything else. Your eye lashes are growing in nicely too. Your nails are long despite reading in a preemie book that often early babies will come out with no nails yet. We haven't gotten an update on your length, and your weight is so skewed with the excess fluid, but I think they're still using a dry weight (so an estimated weight excluding the fluid) of a little less than 7lbs. It's pretty funny, I think you're the only baby in NICU who they want to lose weight (fluid). It's been quite an eventful month and I'm praying that you'll do lots of growing and healing before your 2-month update. You are so loved, but I can't wait until the day I can really give you a tight squeeze without all those wires and tubes. We love you!!!

Giants Game


We've wanted to take the boys to a Giants game again (last time they went was when they were 3 months old) but the games are usually at 1pm or 7pm... neither good with their schedule. I scoped out a 5pm game last month, but that didn't work out, so luckily there was one more, this one at 5:30. The plan hinged on the boys actually napping, which is becoming rarer and rarer, but luckily they both gave in.


The boys didn't watch much of the game, but had a blast nonetheless. Dave got awesome tickets at the last minute so we were on the top row of the Club level which meant it was more of a platform instead of a row. Gave the boys plenty of room to roam around. Food was the highlight for them I'd say -- a soft pretzel, a slice of Tony's pizza and cotton candy.







A Day at the Fair



Yesterday, we decided last minute to go to the San Mateo County Fair. Yes, it's crowded, expensive and hot, but still so much fun! The boys are at a perfect age where they can go on the kiddie rides by themselves and can also occasionally manage waiting a few minutes for the rides. We hit it at a good time where, while crowded, we were never waiting to long to go on a ride.



 



We spent a while on the rides, then ate a tasty lunch and had several treats (snow cone was disappointing but the kettle corn was a hit, especially with the boys), so we didn't even have time to go see all the animals, which I know they would've liked. The boys haven't been napping to we took our chances leaving late and they both caught a short nap in the car. Hard for us since we don't get a break then, but even the short nap made a difference and they weren't a disaster at bedtime.



I'm hoping there will be another fair nearby that we can visit this summer, definitely makes it feel like summer when it's been typically cold in the city.


Downtown Adventure


This is the last week I have with the boys before their camps start next week. I had everything planned out so that as I entered the last month of pregnancy, I'd have them in morning camps to give me a bit of a break before the baby came. We may not have gotten to all of our 'before baby' adventures before Colette actually arrived, but it looks like we'll have plenty of time to cross these things off the list before she comes home. On the one hand, I'm able to do a lot more physically in my current state versus when I was 8 months pregnant, on the other hand, I'm chained to the pump every 3-4 hours which does make longer outings more difficult.

I wanted to take advantage of the last few days without any classes or camps so we finally got to do something we've been wanting to do for a while - ride the glass elevators at the Westin St. Francis. I wasn't exactly sure where to find them or what it was going to be like, but we found them (tucked away on the interior of the hotel, just past the concierge). We started by taking the bus downtown which is always a hit, and then walking a few blocks up to the hotel. The boys loved going in the elevator and the views from the top were really impressive. We probably rode it for 30 or 40 minutes and it did feel a bit like a roller coaster on the way down.

 


Next, we walked across the street to Union Square to share a hot chocolate and a croissant, before making the half-mile trek to Dave's office... they did surprisingly well, and thankfully there was a yellow double decker bus they wanted to go on and after we lost him, I told them he was probably parked at Daddy's office so they kept on going. Dave has been wanting us to come by for a while but it's been hard to coordinate since his mornings are so busy and we can't come much later than noon. This worked out perfectly. Dave got to show us around for a few minutes and the boys got to pick out snacks from the pantry. They also had a prime view of the construction site across the street.





37 Months



Only a couple weeks late, but wow, it's been a whirlwind. The boys have had a lot of transition lately and I'd like to think that we're starting to settle back into a routine again, albeit temporarily I'm sure. Their birthday seems like ages ago, when in fact, Colette was born less than a month after their big day. We were hoping to get a few more adventures in with the boys, and were actually planning a day at the Boardwalk, but after initially getting the news about Colette's pleural effusions, we decided to stay local and did a morning on the double decker bus instead. Sitting on a bus for a few hours was the perfect adventure for me as I was trying to take it easy and we all ended up having a great time.






We had a few normal days as far as the boys were concerned, before I was admitted to the hospital on May 5. That night George started getting sick and by the next day, it was clear he had hand, foot, mouth. Ugh. Poor Dave. George was super uncomfortable and was waking up numerous times at night. It was a couple rough days but luckily he was all cleared up and feeling better by Tuesday, though we were so sure that William would get it too (he never did), that we kept the boys from visiting me for another week. Dave has done an amazing job. He coordinated lots of help from my mom, dad and my brother, who conveniently isn't working right now and was able to visit me daily in the hospital and take the boys to their outdoor class and for playdates at his house. Ma came to help for a full week too. Unfortunately we were still trialing nannies but Dave was able to lock someone in for 2 weeks before Jessica could take over. I think it was helpful, but the boys were really clingy during this time and Dave had to be very involved throughout the day. Between the boys and keeping the household running, not to mention visiting me and worrying about the boys, I'm sure he was running on fumes. Thankfully his work was really understanding. I spent time writing out lists for their schedule, what's typically on our shopping list, etc., etc. regarding the things that I usually take care of. Overall, I think the boys did okay during this time, they certainly had plenty of familiar faces around, but obviously it was a stressful time and I sure despite our best efforts, they felt some of that. Though I didn't notice, Dave said he could see a big difference in them when I returned home.



I feel like this week was a good week. We're back in a routine and I've found my place and a new routine. I've greatly appreciated all the family help, having meals delivered, having Jessica full-time, etc., but the first week home was tough. I was dealing with emotions of not having Colette at home with us, I was taking it easy still recovering from the c-section, and honestly not all that excited to be with the boys just because of everything else going on. In some ways I felt like everything could be taken care of for me, so why bother. But after a couple of days of that, I pulled myself together and decided that it would be best if we had some space from the family help and start bonding as a family again. We had a nice Memorial Day weekend with fun adventures to Lemos Farm in Half Moon Bay and a hike in Larkspur then lunch at Fish. Dave is still taking charge of the boys for the majority of the day, which I'm grateful for. I've started cooking dinners here and there (though am loving the every-other-night dinner deliveries, definitely breaks it up). I've really enjoyed my adventures with the boys but it's nice to have Jessica each day so I know I'll have time to get to the hospital and that I won't have to worry about all the house upkeep when I'm home. I feel like the boys are getting back to normal a bit too.

As you can imagine, with everything off over the last month, the boys were spoiled a bit and there was more TV, more sweets and not the healthiest dinners. Things like manners just weren't a top priority but I'm trying to reel them back in and get this back to 'normal'. It's going okay. Dinners are still a huge hit or miss and moving away from chicken fingers seems to be difficult. Bedtime is also challenging. Naps have been skipped occasionally which usually helps with bedtime, but otherwise, it's been an endless 'one more song', 'I need a hug', 'I need to poop', etc., etc. It drove me nuts the first few nights home but I'm getting used it now. Honestly, G could definitely give up the nap and go to bed earlier, but I'm waiting to see how tired they are for their upcoming camps before we make any big changes.

helping me prep the asparagus
Behavior-wise, both boys have some anger management issues. George has been running off saying 'I'm so mad!' and then crying for like 3 minutes. The crying is really getting on my nerves. William also has his moments of being really cranky with a bad attitude and can get aggressive with George. I'm hoping these things settle down as we I keep working on them, though honestly not sure how to handle any of this. William has also developed a high voice that drives me nuts. I don't know how many times a day I have to say, 'use a different voice'. I have noticed some progress in the past few days.

George has also been having more accidents, but it seems to be just this week that has been worst. Really, William never needs to be reminded and is actually getting upset when we ask him so sine he never has accidents, we're trying to give him a break but it's hard when G has to be reminded and only he has to go. G just drinks a lot more so that makes a difference, but it's gotten to the point where G doesn't really care if he has an accident and we've even had to wash his bedding several different times this week as he's had accidents at naptime and that rarely happened before.

Fun at the Exploratorium
Play still seems to be pretty good. George is obsessed with playing garbage truck and will take all the books off the shelf to dump into his bed (especially at naptime unfortunately). They love playing with stuffed animals too. Sticks are still a huge hit and will act as blowers, vacuums, fire hoses, a broom, etc. They've also loved playing with these water coloring books that Jenn sent. Magnatiles still get a lot of use too.



To my boys...

Oh b's, what a month... You're officially big brothers! I know you don't really understand what's going on, though you do know that you have a baby sister and that she's sick so the doctors are taking care of her in the hospital. You love to call her Rosie (in honor of Caillou's sister) but you occasionally will acknowledge her as Colette. You did pretty well with so many different people taking care of you over the past month. I know things have been different but we'll get back to a new normal, hopefully with your baby sister home with us soon. I missed you so much when I was in the hospital and it was hard to let go of control and know that everyone was doing the best they could given the situation. Now it's back to Mom's rules :)

George, your crying is getting a bit out of control, but I'm hoping it's just how you're processing everything that's happened the past month. You are still so into garbage trucks. You turn everything into a game of dumping and collecting trash. You're in love with this garbage truck song and know all the words. I let you guys each sing me a song at bedtime and that's been your song of choice lately.



I didn't spend as much time with you this past month, but here are a few things I noted down:
  • You always catch me eating any kind of treat, no matter how sneaky I am. You always say, 'what are you eating?'
  • You pointed to an exclamation point and asked Dedee what letter it was as you didn't recognize it
  • You asked me if you could open the front door and when I didn't answer, you said, 'Okay, if you don't answer, I will do it'... very similar to what I say to you when you don't answer.
  • "I think it was too much cheese"... after you had some diarrhea
  • You called your medicine (a combo of benadryl and antacid) for hand foot mouth 'spicy'
  • We were talking about different sizes and I said, 'I'm big' and you corrected me and said, 'no, you're medium'. I'll take it!
William, you've dealt with the changes of the last month in your own way as well, particularly with this high voice that's pretty annoying. We're slowly weaning you off of it. You have quite an attitude a lot of the time, but again, we're working on that. You seem to be standing up to George more this month, unfortunately that mostly involves you bonking him when you're mad he did something. You're definitely more interested in babies, though you don't ask too much about Colette. I loved how Dad helped you make a baby carrier today by tying a blanket around your doll.





 Only a few notes from you this month:
  • You're a complete threenager... so much attitude, especially with those expressive eyes
  • After you get dressed for church with me each week, you love to knock on Dad's door so you can show him your outfit
  • You hurt your bum and request G to kiss it (you always request a kiss to make any owie feel better, but this was a first



Colette Vivienne

It's finally June. May was a very long month and though not what I would've planned, turned out to be the month baby number 3 would make her appearance. Colette Vivienne McDowell arrived at 10:44am on Tuesday, May 17 weighing 7lbs 10oz and measuring 18 inches long. It was the most terrifying day of my life.

So where to begin? I guess at the very beginning. I was shocked when I found out I was pregnant back in October, so much so that it took me 4 days past my missed period to take a pregnancy test. Dave and I very much wanted another baby but weren't 'trying' that month so when I had some spotting around the time of my period, I wasn't really disappointed. Even after the positive pregnancy test, I don't think I told Dave for another week. I went into the doctor to get my hcg levels checked the day after I found out, and then again the following Monday. Things were going up as normal... Again I had my doubts so my doctor humored me and allowed me to come in for several early ultrasounds. Each week... 5 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 9 weeks... all seemed to be progressing despite the continued spotting (which finally stopped around 9 weeks). Despite my constant worrying, there was something in the back of my head telling me that if this unlikely month was the one that we got pregnant, it just had to be meant to be. We were relieved when they confirmed it was only one baby. It was definitely a conversation we had when we discussed going for a third, that it could very likely be a third and a fourth. We also expected another boy and were totally fine with that.

We had the non-invasive testing during the first trimester, and again, all was coming up fine. I finally sighed a huge breath of relief as I entered the second trimester just as the new year began. I did feel slightly different during the first trimester this time versus last time. Around 7 weeks for a few weeks I felt a bit 'off'. Hard to describe as I wasn't nauseous but there were times that I just had to have food immediately. In general nothing sounded or tasted good yet I could still eat everything. Just as Dave got the sparkling water dispenser installed, I had an aversion to sparkling water, though that lasted only a month.

I knew I'd likely need a cerclage again with this pregnancy and Dr. Katz confirmed that my body carrying twins at 20 weeks (when I required a cerclage last time) would be like my body carrying a singleton at 24 or 25 weeks... so too late to get a cerclage if I ended up needing one. So I got a precautionary cerclage placed at 15 weeks in mid-January. It was a fairly quick recovery and I had no complaints. We then had our big ultrasound just before 20 weeks and were again relieved that the baby continued to be developing on track. I was adamant about not finding out the sex and though not thrilled, Dave agreed. We finally started sharing the news of the pregnancy once we were through all of these hurdles.

The weeks slowly progressed but then again starting at week 22, spotting began again. I had an ultrasound and visit with Dr. Katz and they confirmed all looked fine and it was likely just from the cerclage stitch. Though each ultrasound (which I was having every 2 weeks anyway) was reassuring, it still made me nervous when the spotting didn't let up. I stopped exercising at that point (I had been doing yoga and pilates classes, and swimming, but nothing intense by any means), not ordered by the doctor, but it just made me feel more comfortable. He was right, not exercising didn't make it go away. It lasted through week 27 when we went to Hawaii. I'm so grateful we were able to go on our trip and get through the trip without any complications. It was a last minute decision that perhaps a few sessions of acupuncture assisted in having the spotting stop for one single day when they could perform the ffn test to confirm that I would not go into labor in the following two weeks. The spotting finally let up in Hawaii (maybe relaxation was key??) and for 3 blissful weeks I felt great about the pregnancy. I was in the third trimester, my ultrasound at 29 weeks showed the baby was already in the 81st percentile for weight at over 4lbs. I wondered how big a baby I'd have if it was already this big, and was grateful for my scheduled c-section on June 30, just a few days before my July 3 due date. At this point it was just passing time and growing this baby. I was already taking it easy, not lifting the boys, driving instead of walking, resting as much as possible. But really, I felt like we were in the home stretch. And then I started having contractions more frequently. I had been having them for several weeks already throughout the day, but never more than 5 or 6 in an hour like they tell you to look out for. But then I felt like it was getting to the point where maybe I did need to keep track of them more closely, specifically around 8 or 9pm at night. This is when everything became a bit of a whirlwind.

Thu, April 28: I counted 6 or 7 contractions in an hour around 8pm and shortly later noticed some bleeding. I called my ob's after hours line and they sent me into triage to get checked. Thankfully a couple doses of nifedipine slowed everything down, the doctor confirmed that my cervix was still long and closed and the little bleeding had already stopped. Everything seemed fine with the baby, though she ordered an ultrasound the next day to check everything further. An ultrasound one week prior on Thu, April 21 was totally normal.

Fri, April 29: I had to head to a different campus since they couldn't get me a last minute appointment at the hospital I usually go to. I didn't expect anything to be wrong since despite all my worries throughout the pregnancy, everything always seemed to be fine. It's normal for the ultrasound tech not to say much, but this time she said she was going to get the doctor on the phone to speak to me as unfortunately she wasn't in the office but had viewed the results of the ultrasound. Again, I wasn't concerned, until I was on the phone with her and she said there was fluid in the baby's lungs. My heart dropped and I tried to ask some questions but overall she didn't seem overly concerned and made it sound like it was something we would watch and that no, it wasn't necessary to deliver now. I got her phone number and requested a full report to take back to Dave. I briefly shared the news with him before heading back to CPMC for a stress-test they booked for me to check the baby. Everything appeared to be fine. I made it through the weekend just fine, sort of pushing the worry out of my head. I didn't read anything about 'pleural effusions' and was really taking the approach of 'wait and see'. Dave on the other hand read everything and was really stressed out, though he hid it from me well.

Mon, May 2: Dave had canceled his NYC work trip so he could come to the appointments with me. We had an ultrasound that revealed that the fluid had increased, not significantly, but it had gone up in the past few days. They sent me downstairs for an EKG of the baby's heart, which thankfully, showed everything was normal. It was left with a 'wait-and-see' approach yet again, with another ultrasound scheduled for the following Monday. This was definitely the day when my worries skyrocketed.

Thu, May 5: I was just scheduled for another non-stress test, when I got a call from the doctor that they wanted me to come upstairs for an ultrasound when I was done. Apparently the doctor from Friday was briefing the doctor who would be reading my ultrasound Monday and she wanted to see me immediately. I called Dave and he came straight from work. The ultrasound showed that yet again the fluid had increased, and now there was also fluid in the skin and abdominal category, which means the pleural effusions had evolved into hydrops... definitely not what we wanted to see. The perinatologist told Dave and I to go get lunch and then come back to be admitted to the hospital to get steroid shots for the baby's lungs, just in case. I was terrified. I was admitted about 2pm and the plan was for me to be discharged at 6am. All the doctors has pulled together and we'd decided we'd go over to UCSF for a day of ultrasounds, EKG, and meetings with different doctors to decide the next steps, including the possibility of getting a shunt placed, which they only perform at UCSF and not CPMC. I was nervous for that big day as I wasn't sold on getting the shunt and didn't want to make that decision.

Fri, May 6: I didn't have to make that decision as I woke up at 5am to frequent contractions and bleeding. I was immediately put on magnesium for 30 hours (I tolerated it pretty well but the worst part is you can have very limited liquids while you're on it so I'd have to savor a 5oz cup of ice over 8 hours, ugh!). There was no leaving CPMC at this point. The good news is the magnesium worked and my contractions calmed down and the bleeding stopped. Still, it appeared I would be on hospital bed rest until delivery, which I likely would've been even without this complication. At this point I was a few days away from 32 weeks. We talked to the neonatalogist about what to expect at the time of delivery. Every doctor I talked to reiterated the goal of making it to 34 weeks when the baby's lungs would be a bit more developed and overall he/she would be stronger and bigger.

I remained on bedrest for another week and a half. I continued to have ultrasounds every few days and though things got worse, they didn't change significantly. In fact, the last ultrasound I had on Monday, May 16, appeared that the fluid may even have decreased just slightly. I was very uncomfortable, especially those last few days. I was sleeping in 5-minute blocks. Literally waking up hoping it had been hours when it hadn't even been 10 minutes. The L&D nurses were amazing. They were getting me different mattresses, etc., but now I realize it was just my body telling me it was almost done. The baby's hydrops were causing excess amniotic fluid, and though I was told it wasn't really a concern, my belly was starting to measure much bigger. I couldn't get comfortable in any position.

The doctors were also incredible. I had a team of perinatologists and my awesome ob all reaching out to their connections at hospitals around the country to talk through different scenarios. At one point there was discussion of me going to LA to have a shunt placed by a doctor there (that was quickly ruled out). On Friday, May 13, I talked with a doctor at UC Davis about placing the shunt. He was heading out of town for a medical conference but the loose plan was for me to be transported by ambulance in the middle of the night on Tuesday, May 17, so that he could meet with me Wednesday and do the shunt procedure that afternoon if we all decided it was the best plan. Again, I was nervous about making that decision -- there was not a clear consensus about what to do since hydrops is pretty rare and it often develops earlier in pregnancy, when an aggressive treatment is necessary to be able to get the baby further along in pregnancy. Anyway, there were a lot of moving pieces during that almost 2-week hospital bed rest, even though much of the time was rather relaxed and was just a waiting game. I laid in bed most of the day with monitors on my belly. I continued to have contractions so I got the anti-contraction medicine every 4 hours. I tried just about everything on the food menu, and it actually wasn't that bad. I watched a lot of shows and read a couple of books. Because I was sleeping so poorly, I would drift off for catnaps throughout the day. It's so funny, it you had told me I'd have 2 weeks of completely free time, I could've listed off 10 things I would've done that have been sitting on my to-do list. Unfortunately I didn't do any of them. I just didn't have the energy or the motivation. Overall, my spirits were okay. I had plenty of visitors, a room full of flowers and was grateful for each day we made it further into the pregnancy. The doctors continued to look for a cause by running various tests but nothing came back out of the norm.

Dave was the one who had to deal with everything at home. He basically took 2 weeks off of work and got everything squared away with a lot of family help. My brother coordinated a meal calendar. Of course all of this was in the midst of still looking for a new nanny. Oh, and then George got hand, foot, mouth. So the boys couldn't come visit for a full week. As we had no idea how long I'd be on bed rest, and were of course hoping it would be a while for the baby's sake, Dave really had to scramble to get a long term plan in place since he had to get back to work at some point. As fate would have it, Jessica was looking to find a new family as her new job wasn't working out. Dave decided to hire her back full-time.

It seemed like everything was coming together. After fairly good news on the May 16 ultrasound, I think we decided that we'd hold off on going to UC Davis and instead have a follow-up ultrasound on Wednesday, and then decide how to proceed. By this point, I was even more uncomfortable, especially at night.

During the night on Monday night, while not sleeping of course, it was around 3am when I felt a pain on either side of my belly. Sort of like a cramp, nothing super painful, but it felt different than anything so far, so I alerted the nurse. She thought it was just round ligament pain and my belly stretching with all the extra fluid. I was having frequent contractions that they were keeping a close eye on and I think I also got an extra dose of nifedipine. I got up to go to the bathroom around 5am and the pains had stopped, but the contractions were still regular. I was becoming more and more uncomfortable. The nurse noticed a deceleration of the baby's heartrate at some point, probably around 5:30am. The continued to monitor but within the hour, I started bleeding. They called the doctor in and he checked me and saw that I was slightly dilated , 80% effaced and thought my water was leaking. He called in my team of doctors since I had so many people working on my care and he knew he needed them to make a final decision. My ob stopped by and the call was made to start magnesium again to try to stop the contractions. They would give me an hour and then make a decision. My perinatalogist came in and checked me again and basically said the cerclage was holding everything together and that we'd definitely deliver. That was at 9:55am.

There was a flurry of people in and out of my room. NICU nurses, nurses for me, getting my IV in, the anesthesiologist, all my doctors. Before I knew it, I was being wheeled to the OR. I've never been so terrified. I knew it was too early for the baby to come, but beyond that, was the unknown. Yes, we had been prepped for what would happen with the baby once delivered, but who knows what would actually happen based on how she was doing. I couldn't believe that moment was here whether we were ready or not. I remember the room being filled with so many people, probably 15-20, more than were there for the boys' birth which was so odd. I was glad my ob had come back over for the surgery and my favorite L&D nurse happened to be with me that morning. Ironically, she is due just a couple of days after me in July. Thankfully, after the epidural had kicked in, I was much more relaxed. It was a surreal experience as you're just waiting for the baby to be out, but even when she was out, we didn't hear a cry or anything. It was actually rather calm (though I'm not sure if Dave would agree). Colette was born at 10:44am. Throughout the pregnancy I always thought was an incredible moment that would be, when they pulled the baby out and announced, 'it's a X!' All along you tell people that you don't care if it's a boy or a girl, as long as it's healthy. And this is the prime example of that. The baby was out several minutes before someone (not Dave or I) asked, 'is it a boy or a girl?' That was the furthest thing on our minds. I was holding my breath waiting to hear how she was doing. Dave took a photo and brought it over to me. He thought she looked better than expected as she was pink and not as swollen as he thought she'd be. I was relieved. And I felt a million times better just having a c-section than I had for the past few days. My body had definitely been telling me that it was time.

It turned out that my placenta had started to abrupt, which can be caused by contractions or excess amniotic fluid, which is caused by the baby's hydrops. For some reason this provided me some comfort. I know many woman who have preterm labor feel like their body betrayed them. I don't feel this way. I feel like my body did the best it could in this situation, but it was time for the baby to come out. Do I wish I could've gone longer? Yes. Would I have endured all that pain and being uncomfortable for much longer to keep her in? Definitely. But I feel like it was out of my hands, in a good way. We didn't have to try to figure out what was the right decision regarding the shunt. That decision was made for us and I'm okay with that.

Dave went with the baby to NICU while I waited for my epidural to wear off. Eventually they wheeled my bed over and I got to meet her for the first time, reaching my hand into her isolette. I don't know if it was the meds or that I had been told she was doing well, but I was actually feeling great that afternoon. It was definitely a weird experience to be in the postpartum room by myself much of the time, while hearing babies cry throughout the day and night, but I was doing okay.

Colette had a rough time that first afternoon and apparently a respiratory therapist was literally pumping a breath for her for 2 hours straight. I had called over to get an update on her and didn't get a call back for hours as it was so intense. Day 2 had it's ups and downs too, but then she seemed to stabilize.

She's now 16 days old. But today was a very good day. 'Wean off respiratory assistance' has been on her Goals list for a while but I didn't know she was getting close to that. Today I arrived and they said, 'we're planning on taking the breathing tube out'. What?! Just like that? Even after 16 long days, I couldn't believe this huge milestone was here! I planned to finish this post with what I felt I've missed out on. Yes, I wish I had had a more 'normal' pregnancy. I'm jealous of women I see who are still pregnant. I should be counting down the final weeks until baby's healthy arrival. I'm envious of moms I see pushing or carrying their newborns as if it's no big deal. Colette is 16 days old today and I still haven't held her. I've never been a baby person, but was so looking forward to having 'just one' that I was hoping I'd get to enjoy these early days a bit more by focusing on just one baby, being able to breastfeed, etc. Instead, I'm pumping around the clock and had to buy a freezer for the garage to store all the breastmilk since she's taking less than an ounce every three hours, yet I'm producing 45oz each day. No, things aren't how I would've planned. I've had some really bad days where I can't get past the fact that this is our reality and it's going to be a very long road. But I've also had some good days, like today, where you get a surprise of real progress and you have hope that maybe things will be okay. I'm sure I will continue to have good days and bad ones, but I'm so grateful she's stable and trying to focus that she is heading in the right direction, even if progress sometimes appears negligible. She has some amazing nurses and doctors who are taking wonderful care of her and I know she's right where she needs to be.

I'm so grateful for the support we've received from friends and family. It's been a tough transition coming home, without a baby, when I was away from the boys for several weeks and everyone was in survival mode. It got to the point where I had so much help, I could really sit around and be sad all day if I wanted. I've spent the last week finding the right balance for me, which I've found has been getting back into the old routine as much as possible. I like to see Colette for several hours in the morning and at night, but have worked in plenty of time with the boys, running errands, making dinner here and there, and it's really made a difference in how I'm feeling overall. We're so lucky that the hospital is just a few blocks away... there are people in our NICU who live several hours away and I'm beyond grateful that I can be there within minutes whenever I want to be. I still can't believe we're in this situation, but am praying that people are right who say one day I'll look back on this and it will seem like a blink of the eye and it was over. For now, being patient is so tough and I can't picture what it will be like when it's over, but I'm sure they're right. We can't wait to welcome Colette home whenever she's ready!