Isabella Danielle, born at 24 weeks and 1 day, 1lb 11oz, 12.5in

Zachary Michael, born at 36 weeks, 5lb 13oz, 18.5in

Alexander Charles, FULL TERM, 7lb 1oz, 20in

Monday, September 27, 2010

You Can Go Home Again

After 5 months of absolutely no traveling, I decided it was time to take a quick trip. Our destination? My hometown of New Braunfels, TX. Born and raised in this fabulous town, you come to appreciate all of its time honored traditions once you are older. One of those is our yearly county fair. I was so excited to share this experience with Bella (Zach will get his turn next year). As a kick-off to the fair events, there is a parade. I drove in Thursday afternoon so that I would be able to take Bella to the parade Friday morning. Once there, we shared a chocolate donut from the oldest bakery (and best) in Texas, Neaglin's (courtesy of Uncle Eddie, one of my childhood best friends) before the parade started. Alongside Aunt Ashlee and Kolton, we stood in the packed crowd surrounded by a community of families with children of all ages waiting for the American flag, military representatives, high school bands, state officials, local service clubs and many other groups to march through the middle of town to celebrate what we all love about where we live. This is small town America at its best. As the fire trucks, horses, and military personnel went by, I got to see the expression of amusement and joy spread across Bella’s face. She clapped, she pointed in wonder, and most importantly she smiled from ear to ear.

After the parade, my mom, Bella, Zach and I went up to visit my co-workers for cake and punch. They all thought Zach was handsome and Bella was amazing. I get so excited being able to have the kids spend time with them.[THANK YOU ALL FOR TAKING TIME OUT OF YOUR DAY TO SPEND WITH US AND THE GREAT GIFT.]

Chris flew into Austin Friday afternoon to join us for the remainder of the weekend. We found out some time back that there is a Mellow Mushroom Pizzeria in Austin. While we were in Virginian for Bella’s NICU stay, we fell in love with Mellow Mushroom. This restaurant became a safe haven for Chris and me. On our half mile walk back to our apartment from the hospital we would sneak in for a pizza and beer to wind down from whatever bit of stress had elapsed for the day. So as a treat to ourselves, we got to share Mellow Mushroom pizza with Bella for the first time after picking Daddy up from the airport. (but it would have been better if we were in Virginia)

Saturday morning is what Chris and I had been looking forward to the most with Bella. At the fairgrounds Saturday morning there is always the children’s game area, animal petting area and the larger animals to observe. Bella has recently gotten into saying animal noises and pays the most attention to her books with animals in them. Her reaction was priceless even though she was slightly intimidated by the size of the animals, even the babies.

That afternoon we had a mini family reunion at my mom’s house to celebrate Zach’s arrival. We were surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and the dearest friends. We laughed, ate, watched football and enjoyed being a family. [THANK YOU TO EVERYONE THAT WAS THERE. OUR LIVES ARE THAT MUCH BETTER BECAUSE EACH OF YOU IS IN IT.]

It was wonderful being back home for a few days and getting to visit with so many people, even if it was short lived. I must say, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel blessed for all the many gifts God has given me in my life. And one of those gifts are all the amazing people in my life. I love you all and can't wait to see you again soon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cute Moments of the Week

A month ago tonight, I went into labor less than a week after having my last progesterone shot and my cerclage still in. The day before going into labor we had our last ultrasound with the Perinatalogist who told me that only 5% of women go into labor within 48 hours of having the cerclage removed. (Chris thinks I should take Zach over there for a visit to give the doctor a good laugh.) Getting the cerclage out without a drop of pain medication was excruciating. But once it was out we were Thunder Cats A Go! Labor pains were tolerable for the first several hours but once 11pm hit I was craving an epidural. I couldn't feel ANYTHING from the waist down afterward. It was so bad I almost kicked the nurse in the head because I thought I would be helpful in moving my leg for her. It was like watching a stick of jello aimed at her head. The next 4 hours seemed to fly by as I rested and listened to Zach's heartbeat on the monitor, paranoid up until the last minute praying that he was never in harms way. At 3:34am Zach popped into the world screaming at the top of his lungs as Chris helped me curl up to deliver that final push. We were safely the proud parents of two children.

Needless to say, the last month has been rough. Having a newborn with a 21 month old toddler is not easy by any means. On top of that, this is kind of new for us. Isabella's first 4 months of life were spent in the hospital. At that time, the nurses always tried to lighten our mood saying, "Enjoy the free babysitting!" Only now do I know what they meant. While Bella was in the hosptial we saw that as somewhat of a stab to the heart because we wanted to be able to take a healthy baby home with us each time we left the unit. Now that we have a healthy baby home this time around, which we are oh so greatful for, we realize what we did not experience before. A newborn has so much adjusting to do when they first come home. In addition, Zach being a full month early has spurred him to require much needed cuddling in order to feel a comforting heartbeat (what we preemie parents know as kangaroo care). He has been a super fussy baby that we continuously have to hold to keep him from crying uncontrollably. Although Chris and I are extremely exhausted, we have been able to relish in a few very adorable moments this week...a few of which we have pictures to go with.

Zach fussing
Zach was fast asleep in his bassinet looking so cute, so I went to get the camera. When I got back, this is what I showed up to.

Zach relaxing
Mister man stretched out on his tummy time pillow (yes Mere, I'm not afraid to put my boy on the pink pillow!)

Zach filling out
If you look close enough at his wrist, you can see a little bit of baby roll popping up.

Zach and Daddy cuddling
My 2 favorite guys in the world looking so cute taking a nap together!

Bella and the Dirt
After school one day, I was making Bella a juice cup. As I brought it to her in the living room, this is what I saw. I couldn't help but laugh, look at the plant with dirt all around it, and pull out the camera.

"Boots" and Bella
Papi bought Bella a monkey last weekend while he was visiting. She has started saying "monkey" much more in the last few days. If you didn't know already, Bella loves to watch Dora the Explorer. This morning Bella brought the monkey into our bedroom. Chris asked her, "what do you have there?" Bella's response...BOOTS!!!

One of the best things about living in West Texas are the beautiful skies. This is the sunrise after a heavy night storm.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Happy Grandparents Day

GiGi, Nana & Papi:

Grandparents day is a special day dedicated to the people that love us unconditionally and spoil us rotten. Thank you so much for taking the time to come visit, hold us, have play time, and cover us in kisses. We really enjoyed having you here over the last few weeks. We are blessed to have grandparents like you. Thank you for loving us with all your hearts.

Love, Bella & Zach

Friday, September 10, 2010

Oh the Sleepless nights

We made a super quick trip to the pediatrician this morning to do a weigh in. As with so many things, Chris and I made guesstimates as to how much the little guy weighs. Chris went with 7.5lbs and I thought he would be right at 7. Turns out Daddy wins again. The little chunky man weighed 7lb 5oz. It was obvious that he had filled out quite a bit; he has much less dangly skin throughout his body. On the down side, he is still crying quite a bit. We think we have narrowed it down to gas. It seems each time he starts to screech inconsolably, a few seconds later a series of farts come out. Hopefully Mylicon will do the trick and soothe his gas pains. Other than that he is doing most normal newborn things and steadily staying more alert and holding his head up amazingly well. Along with the newborn beginnings Mommy and Daddy are getting no sleep and no nap time to make up for it during the day. I don't think Chris and I have ever felt our age like we have in the last 3 weeks.

Lately we have been giving some generic updates about how Bella is doing. So I want to take some time to kind of detail what she has been up to (other than being a great big sister).
1. School - She is in school 4 days a week now. Both of our babysitters are in school full time and are unable to watch her. Luckily we found a mother's day out program in town that does Mondays/Wednesdays and we were able to obtain a spot. She really enjoys interacting with other children. Well, except when a certain little child screams during class all day long. On Wednesday we walked up to class and as soon as we opened the door one little girl was crying uncontrollably. This immediately put Bella in a funk. When I picked her up that afternoon, Bella's eyes were super swollen. Turns out the other little girl never quit crying; as a result, most of the class kept crying during the day. I felt so bad we had to go to my favorite dessert bar and grab a cookie. Other than that, her interest at school is great. It is so cool to watch her focus and process on what someone is trying to teach her.
2. Physical Therapy - Although she is walking great and seems to have a much better sense of balance, she definitely got my clumsiness. The girl falls forward, backward and trips over her own feet. Currently we are practicing stepping up and walking on a balance beam. It is surprising how difficult this is to teach a child. She still has to reach down, grab the step and then put her foot up to climb the steps. She is kicking her soccer ball all around the house as well as enjoying walking in the grass. I actually saw her sit in grass for the first time today. Now we need to practice kicking the soccer ball in the grass.
3. Speaking - We got discharged from speech therapy for the second time today. I had called the speech therapist back in some time in July. After a quick eval we decided to do a once a month visit. At the time Bella's vocabulary was right at 10 words when it should have been around 25. As of today, we are well passed the 40 word mark, which is appropriate for her actual age. It seems the day after the speech therapist did the eval in July she decided to start speaking. And she continues to learn new words each day. Another positive is that she has started to explore numbers and can actually count to 3. We feel very blessed that she has such an interest to learn considering her prematurity.
4. All around cuteness - What can I say...the girl is continuously precious and adorable. There is not a day that goes by that I don't look at her and count my blessings. I think about how cute and unbelievable she is with all of her words, actions, faces and even sassiness. We may be fast approaching the Terrible 2s, but they often make me laugh. The way she tells you "NO" can be so darn funny.

Our matching Yankees shirts courtesy of Auntie Lauren!

We hope all of you are doing great, many blessing to you all!!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Newborn Check-up

Zach is 2 weeks old tomorrow so this morning we had our first pediatric appointment with Dr. J. She was so excited to see the little man and glad he was doing so well. Zach's flexibility and reflexs were good and all his internal parts sounded great. On a little less positive side, he has a touch of jaundice and is only up to 6lbs. He was about 5lb 9oz when we left the hospital, so he should be closer to 6.5lbs by now. As a result, we have to do the same thing with him that we did with Isabella, supplement his breast milk with Neosure powder formula. That means each feeding we add Neosure to his bottle of milk. We have to take him back next Friday for a quick weight check to make sure he is packin' on the ounces as he should. She and I also had a quick conversation about Colic. Zach is a bit of a screamer. If he isn't eating or in a deep, deep sleep, he is cryin' at the top of his lungs. Needless to say it has caused many a sleepless nights for Chris and me. Since Colic normally starts at about this age and his crying is so sporadic, we agreed it wasn't Colic but just a matter of him being a few weeks early, needing attention, and adjusting to gaining weight and temperature. Hopefully using the Neosure and keeping him extra bundled will allow him to calm down a bit (so far it has worked this afternoon).

Isabella is doing fabulous as always! She has adjusted nicely over the last week to having a little brother around the house. Her looks of confusion have turned into curiosity - she loves touching Zach's toes. She even likes to rock him when we have him in the car seat carrier. Bella definitely has her moments of acting out, refusing to listen to the word "NO", as well as crying when you cannot pay attention to her, but overall she is doing great with the changes around here. I like to think part of it has to do with my ability to interact with her more. Now that I am feeling a little better I have been able to love and focus on her when I'm not taking care of Zach (instead of just laying in bed). Other than new baby, Bella started school today for the fall. All of her teachers from the spring were so impressed at how much she has grown physically and cognitively. I even got a "she's the best kid in the class" today; no standards set there! Chris and I always rave to each other about how smart we think she is, but we are supposed to be biased.

Here are a few pictures from the last couple of days:

Many blessings to all of you :)