Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More on meal planning

I wrote a few posts back ago on meal planning and how much it’s really helped my family out. I’ve been planning out meals now for three weeks and I’m finally finding myself using pins that I have pinned on Pinterest. Now, I would call that alone a success, since we all know that most of the projects or food ever, really gets done or tried out. And when they are – it’s pretty much fail status. Another positive, at least for me, is that we are eating more ‘real’ foods. Less unprocessed. It’s not a major goal we have to go completely whole foods, organic, non-gmo, gluten free etc etc etc. I mean, I do indulge in some Reese’s more often than I should. But – I want to use fresh foods, and I want to not use processed foods so much. And I’m referring to Betty Crocker boxed potatoes and Hamburger Helper meals. Don’t get me wrong, food is food. But I don’t want the boys eating foods that are that processed – and I really don’t see how it’s cheaper, at all.

I’ve noticed not only has meal planning saved me time, but it’s saved us some money and trips to the grocery store and it’s helped us come together and plan what we want for the week, not just last minute ‘this sounds good’ so I thought I would share what our dinners were last week, and what’s up on my menu for this week.

So last week – November 18th – 24th:

Monday: Teriyaki Chicken with Rice. I used a leftover bag we had in the freezer from extra’s I made a time before.

Tuesday: Cheesy Noodle Bake. This was my first try with this recipe, it’s definitely going into the rotation here but it did come out a little dry like other comments mentioned. I might try adding a can of cheese soup to it next time to help with this. Recipe

Wednesday: Chicken Pot Pie

Thursday: Cowboy Casserole (Ground beef, seasoned like a burger, cooked. Topped with Baked Beans, and topped with cornbread – baked until the cornbread is done.

Friday: Chicken and Dumplings – recipe here. I added pepper and garlic to ours and it was pretty fantastic.

Saturday: My birthday dinner – My husband made this amazing chicken pesto pasta dish that won my heart over when we were dating. He kind of eye balls it. But its pasta, grilled chicken, sun dried tomatoes, peas, fresh grated Parmesan cheese and pesto.

Sunday: Papa John’s Pizza. (Our planned meal was slow cooker pork ribs, but they were forgotten in the freezer).

And this week: November 25th – December 1st.

Monday: Chicken Strips with Chili Peppered Fettuccine noodles and homemade Alfredo sauce.

Tuesday: Taco Pie

Wednesday: Un-Stuffed Cabbage Soup (First try at this – recipe here)

Thursday: THANKSGIVING!!! Fried Turkey, Mashed potatoes, candied yams, broccoli casserole, corn, stuffing, Meme’s biscuits, and pies! YUM!

Friday: Either Leftovers OR Burgers

Saturday: Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf (Recipe here – first try)

Sunday: Lemon Rosemary Crockpot Chicken (First Try – Recipe here)

Breakfast: Eggs, Applesauce, Pancakes, Oatmeal, Banana’s, Blueberries

Snack Time: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins, Graham Crackers, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I come up with our meals on most importantly on what we are in the mood for, I try to not repeat meals often because I get sick of them as does my husband and I’m sure the boys. Plus it’s nice to experiment to be honest and mix things up. Then I see what my local grocery store (Publix for me) has on sale with produce that week and what matches up to meats in the freezer.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

All about H&L at 1 Year!

While looking back over my posts, I've realized that I haven't spoken much on how FANTASTIC the boys are doing now a days! We had our 1 Year Well baby appointment on the 14th and to my shock the boys weighed in at 20lbs 5oz and are 29 1/2" long! We don't focus on percentiles here, but they were doing great on their charts and following right along on the curve that they should be on! They received all of their shots, except chickenpox - which we are delaying on until they're 15 month appointment. I don't like them receiving more than 4 at a time, and they needed the flu shot. And because they don't attend daycare it isn't a big deal. Plus - we're borderline isolation right now with it being RSV season.

Milestone wise I have destroyer babies! To say they are boys, would be putting it mildly. These two are 120% all b-o-y. Without a doubt. They took their first steps on their 11 month birthday and were walking all around within two weeks. Liam can now stand himself up independently, so if he is in the middle of the floor he can stand without pulling up on anything, whereas Hayden can't quite do that yet. But I'm sure within two weeks or so, that'll change - maybe. One thing these two are fantastic at though is destroying! Anything and quite frankly everything, they literally leave behind a trail of destruction as they go around the house.

While the boys are very headstrong and are passing all of the physical milestones, verbally/communication wise, that isn't so much the case. Hayden has been clapping for a good 2 months now, and Liam just - and I mean just picked it up. Liam can wave somewhat, sometimes in context, whereas Hayden isn't there yet. To think that in the past I had thought thought that they would be doing the same thing as each other, I laugh now. These two keep me on my toes, that's for sure. Speech wise - ehhh, that we are working on. We can babble, but nothing is really said in context except when they do say 'mama mom' which is usually when they are really, really mad. They babble the sounds 'dada', 'ba', and 'de' and 'G' noises. Sometimes it sounds like Liam is saying doggie, but I'm not sure to be truthful. Hayden isn't making any G noises. According to our childhood intervention specialist - I'm not to worry until 1 year adjusted - which is January 3rd. But I do, especially since Hayden isn't passing his hearing test on his left side and will need a sedated ABR test performed in the near future, but that is another post for another day.

But most importantly, they are going great, and growing fantastically. I'm so proud of them and so much in love with these two little guys. They can drive me crazy and melt my heart, within minutes of each other. But, they make life worth living and I can't imagine my life any other way. Here are some more recent pictures of my crazily handsome little guys!
H&L's first Halloween - Baby Robots! (Hayden has black baby legs and Liam has brown)
Liam - Blue, Hayden - Orange enjoying some Mom Guilted Chick-Fil-A after their shots!
Hayden at his birthday party!
 Liam, at his birthday party!

Blowing out their candles!
To see them eat their cake, here is the link

November - Prematurity Awareness Month

November is a month that has always been close to home here, I adore Thanksgiving and fall weather. The deep auburn colors, the changing leaves that cover the grass (except here in Florida), the good for the soul food, the warm stews it’s no secret that fall is a favorite season. My birthday also falls in November, and well who doesn’t love a good reason to have cake and presents!! Last year added to the excitement November brings with it by adding Hayden and Liam’s birthday to the month. But it also made me very aware of what else November is – Prematurity Awareness month.

Every year thousands and thousands of babies are born way too soon, many pass away due to complications and premature birth. Many endure lifelong complications due to premature birth, some are lucky enough to have a short NICU stay and go on to lead normal lives. Some spend days upon days in the NICU and are discharged with quite a follow up schedule of specialists. Some are discharged and are quickly readmitted.

It never fails that I often hear other pregnant women complaining once they believe they are ‘term’ about being uncomfortable and home remedies not inducing labor. It takes a lot of me to reply with a simple, “I know your uncomfortable but you’re not really term until 39 weeks, your baby needs this time, try to enjoy it and take the last few days in before life is crazy.” So often our society gets so caught up in the excitement of birth, and the desire to meet their new baby, that they forget that it is so very, very important to let their child come, assuming there are no risks, when he or she is ready – but not before 39 weeks. Brain development is not complete until then. Every second that that baby can continue to grow in utero is imperative. Babies do not learn the suck, swallow, and breathe - steps of eating until 34 weeks gestation. The difference between a 24 week gestation, 32 week gestation and a full term babies lungs is quite literally breathtaking. A premature infants lungs will not catch up to a full term babies lungs until they reach the age of 3. So that means that there are 3 years of terrifying flu seasons to get through to where something like RSV isn’t considered life-threatening to them.

My babies were born 8 weeks early, looking back, I had a gut feeling the entire time – I never really knew what a NICU was or looked like. I never knew about the complications of early birth until the boys were born. I would of given my right arm, or anything really to allow them to continue to grow in utero until 39 weeks. However, it wasn’t healthy for them. I would of lost both babies had this been the case. They have over came so, so much in their short life. Resolving brain bleeds, dealing with hydrocephalis, battling NEC, learning how to breathe room air, learning how to eat, gaining weight. All things normal full term babies rarely have to deal with. My babies have grown from 3lbs 4oz 16 ¼” long and 3 lbs 5 oz 15” long to healthy 20lbs 5oz and 29 ½” long – all within 365 days. Now that is utterly amazing. It’s a miracle that we have been so, so lucky to not have lifelong complications (at least, that we are aware of yet) and we’re so lucky that we have both babies at home with us. Many parents are forced to carry their babies in their hearts because they were born too early.

I hope that in the coming years, I can find a way to be more proactive with prematurity awareness month. I hope that I can find a niche and do something, anything to educate other mothers who are expecting, not to try at home remedies to induce labor, to not try to have their babies at 37 weeks. Babies are our future, and while pregnancy can be uncomfortable, it isn’t the time to be selfish, it isn’t the time to rush things. Those babies, our future, needs every minute we can spare to allow them to grow and develop in utero before being born into this world.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

364 Days

It has been 364 days since the boys have come into this world, I can’t help but to think back on just how far we have come and grown together in the past almost year. I can’t help but think about where we were just a year ago, and what the next 48-72-96 hours brought us. To be completely honest, it’s a mixture of emotions. Thankfulness, anxiety, sadness, happiness, pride, humbleness, I could go on and on and on.

I’m so thankful, truly thankful for my MFM with whom I had the appointment with on November 7th.  I honestly know without a doubt in my mind, that had I not been monitored by the team of MFMs that I had last year, that I would be in an entirely different place than I am right now. It’s truly not something I want to dwell on, or really think about. But I am so grateful for them. I’m thankful for the NICU staff that the boys were cared for by, and that at times we were cared for by. I’ve never meet people who were more wonderful than I did during our time in the NICU. It truly takes an amazing person to by a NICU nurse or a neonatologist or a specialist who cares for these tiny babies, and I truly know from the depths of my heart that these people are truly one of the greatest blessings God has given us. I know that our primary NICU nurse was sent to us just by Him. During a time where we had no family nearby to rely on, He sent us her to care for our babies, and care for us. She went above and beyond anything anyone did for us. Reminding us to eat and care for ourselves, to talk with one another, being a shoulder to simply cry on. And calling me out on the bitch of PPD, and when I tried to say “things happen for a reason I suppose” she was the only person who called the BS card. “Things don’t happen for a reason, they just happen and it SUCKS and it isn’t fair but you don’t have a choice, you just get through it. It doesn’t mean its pretty, or that its easy, but you treck on. And it SUCKS” I adored her for saying that, for being honest with us and protecting us all at the same time. She is hands down the reason why H didn’t have brain surgery, without a doubt. Every mL of cerebral fluid she pulled from a lumbar tap prevented what I know my heart couldn’t of handled. Our other Primary nurse was the reason L’s NEC didn’t get far enough to require surgery, and in the early days she just sat with H when I was pumping or getting medicine or with L, and watched his Oxygen levels. Her bluntness, and reassurance and motherness warmed our hearts. If she hadn’t been so adamant on watching his belly measurements with every diaper change, and paying attention to his stool – who knows how long it would of gone before the NEC was discovered.

I still have quite a bit of anxiety thinking about the day the boys were born, the events that occurred, the total 180 that life spun at us. Becoming a parent and making the decision to become a parent never prepares you for this, once that decision has been made your practically handing over your life to the point where you don’t have much control over it and it can do a 180 at any given moment. It can be with a labor and delivery, or it can be when your five year old little boy decides to climb a tree and breaks his arm. Everything is dropped to bring him to the ER and make him feel better. Everything dropped for me that morning during the appointment. A lot of anxiety, I believe, has to do with the fact that everything went from being okay, to hearing “Sometimes babies are safer and grow better on the outside, you did a great job, now we just need to get them out and help them grow.”  Completely panic ridden. I couldn’t even control the tears, I couldn’t bear to look at Erik. I felt like I had failed them, and like I had failed Erik. After changing into my hospital gown, things got a bit – well crazy. I went from hearing, lay on your side, to the MFM being called because the nurses couldn’t find a heartbeat for either baby, to being told that I would receive the steroid shot and another 24 hours later to being told I am going to OR in 5 minutes. It was a lot of confusion, and I honestly believe I just went into shock, my brain shut down. Looking back, I can’t say that I blame it for doing so.

The sadness stems from recovering and not hearing how the boys were doing, just laying there and then being wheeled into the post partum rooms past women who have their babies and here I was with empty arms, listening to the sweet cries at night while I pumped every 3 hours - THAT was torture.  Nothing could of prepared me for the feeling of my heart shattering as we drove away from the hospital with empty arms, no cars eats and no happy family. I literally felt like I was dying, my heart was shattered into millions of tiny pieces. The drive to the NICU was far too long – always, and the phone calls in the middle of the night were never quite helpful enough. BUT happiness and pride overshadows the sadness and anxiety that I feel – at least most days (given PPD doesn’t rear her ugly face).

The day that Hayden came home and joined us brother was the best day. I was so excited to have both boys home and to not have to split my time between the two. Those 5 days were HARD. I wanted to be in the NICU with Hayden but I also wanted to be home with Liam too. Needless to say we had to take turns, but I couldn’t help but be sad that both my babies weren’t home. It was a bit of a blessing though, to have one home and not the other. It gave us a bit of time to find bottles that actually worked and get used to being a parent full time. Bringing Hayden home to join us was amazing, I felt so complete. Seeing them grow from 3lbs to 5lbs and then 10lbs and now 17(ish) is amazing. Watching them reach milestones that I thought they would be more delayed on is truly on of God’s greatest gifts. Seeing them enjoy the food I make warms my heart. Watching them play together and explore their surroundings is by far the best reassurance in the world. It melts my heart watching them giggle while playing together. Being discharged and cleared from Neurosurgery was another great accomplishment. These two little boys have proven to me just how strong, how very, very strong the human spirit is. That no matter how small we are, it doesn’t determine how big the fight we have within us is. They have taught me so much this past year. I’m so proud of their accomplishments – proud of how far they have came. From needing help breathing and eating to walking, babbling and eating everything in sight, all within a year - a whole 365 days. Now, that is nothing short of amazing. I’m so proud of them, and proud of what an amazing father Mr. H is, and how amazing of a husband he is – even when I’m not at my best. This year, has certainly been one for the books that’s for sure.

I’ve been so humbled this past year, with the outpouring support we’ve been given. Mrs. Kathy, our post partum doula has been there for us for so, so much. To simply come and help me care for the boys, bringing over dishes (as well as the amazing parish members who brought us food in the early days too!), to helping fold laundry and helping me understand and grow into my new role of being a mom. To all of our family that has traveled to see us, to the gifts that have been sent for the boys. To all of the prayers, for health for the boys and us, and even the kind gestures from those whom I have never even meet. It’s absolutely humbling and gives me hope that the boys will grow up in a society where they can be humble and kind and giving people without getting walked all over.
When I was told that the first year was the hardest, I believed it – and it was the hardest. There were so many changes, so much newness, so much fear and so many hormones. While I certainly had quite a few bad days, and while things didn’t always go as planned – there was so much happiness. Sure – things take quite a bit more planning and effort now but it is so worth it. When I found out we were expecting twins in May of 2012 I was terrified and full of doubt. But now – I know that God gave me these two precious miracles because he knew I would figure it out and run with it. It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure, but it has been so rewarding. I wish that someone would of told me that this first year is the hardest – but that it is also the most humbling, amazing year as well.

I’m hoping that tomorrow, while I might shed a few tears – especially when we visit our primary nurse at the NICU – that I will also remember to celebrate. Celebrate how much our family has grown, celebrate how much both Mr. H and I have grown as parents, and to most importantly celebrate how far the boys have come and how much happiness they have brought us.

There are moments that mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this and after this” – Unknown.