The stages of infancy fly by, often times I don’t recall specific days, but rather specific moments. It is these moments- these memories- that still give me goosebumps and have left footprints on my heart. Milestone stages at 3 months, 6 months and 12 months give me a reason to reminisce.
How do we spell love? T.I.K.L.E.
T is for Theodore
I is for Isabella
K is for Kali
L is for Lillian
E is for Elliott
Another special thank you to Hayley for the beautiful photos that she took of our children at 3 and 12 months. She is a very talented photographer. Her talent and patience are divine! Be sure to check back at her homepage for more Photos by Hayley.
What better way to declare your independence then by eating all by yourself?!
On Monday morning Mom was preparing breakfast for her five beautiful children and decided that their traditional oatmeal and yogurt needed a splash of color. While apples and bananas are favorites they weren’t bright enough, but berries certainly would do the trick! Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries turned the dreary oats into a bright purple surprise! Little did Mom know that today was the day that her children were going to exercise their right to feed themselves! Kali was the first to say, “No thanks, Mom, I got this.” Of course, she chose not to use her words, but rather to swat the spoon from Mama’s hand sending it flying onto Bella’s lap. She then proceeded to raspberry her raspberries all over the table and her brother, Theo, sitting 2 seats over. Theo thought this was hilarious and joined the raspberry spray fest. Of course once the spoon hit Bella, she, too, caught on, and soon Mom had a mutiny on her hands. While I would have appreciated a subtler request to learn how to feed themselves; the message was nevertheless received. I am eager to celebrate this milestone with my children. I won’t be packing away the Baby Bullet just yet, but now that four out of the five have at least 2 choppers we will be discovering the quints’ finger food faves! Their new meal plan that embraces their new found independence and celebrates their 11-month milestones is as follows: Breakfast:
5-6 ounces Milk (Breast Milk with Goats Milk)
Banana OR Cooked Pears, Peaches, Fig, Plum or Apple
Cheerios OR Oatmeal OR Oat-based Teething Biscuit
5-6 ounces Milk
Cooked Carrots, Peas, Summer squash
Ground Meat (Beef, Chicken, Turkey) OR Flaked Fish
Cooked Potato OR Spiral Whole Grain Pasta
5-6 ounces Milk OR Water (Will switch to water after 1 year)
Avocado OR Chopped Hard Boiled Egg
Cheerios OR Oat-based Teething Biscuit
5-6 ounces Milk
Cooked Carrots, Peas, Summer squash
Cooked Beans (Chick peas or Kidney beans) OR Soft Cubed Tofu
For those of you who know me, know I’m a bit nostalgic. I believe this appreciation for the past and joy from recollecting was instilled in me by my dad. I enjoy reminiscing about times that have gone by, sometimes to a fault, in that I miss the present or plan too much for the future. But, nevertheless, I cherish days like today- Memorial Day- for taking a time out to look back.
One year ago today, I was lying in a hotel in Mesa, AZ. I had just been discharged from the local hospital after having a surgery that saved our pregnancy. I did not know what the days ahead would bring, but knew that in a few hours I would have to drop Frank off at the airport and spend the next days alone.
For those of you who know me, being away from home is not my specialty. I have always been a homebody. I am perfectly content hanging out at home. While I appreciate others’ love for travel, I generally have little interest. So, needless to say moving to Arizona was not something I would have chosen to do.
For those of you who know me, know that I strive to walk with God. It truly has been a bumpy road, of straying here and there. But, as I reflect on this Memorial Day, I see how God’s hand was guiding our footsteps during that treacherous time. We had found out on that Monday that we were going to lose our pregnancy and the medical team shared with us that there was nothing we could do about it. The parents of other quintuplets told me differently. When I learned of the surgery that had prolonged other high order multiple pregnancies the answer was easy; I needed that surgery. I recall wrestling with this decision in my mind. I saw two choices: Stay here in WI where I was comfortable and await the impending miscarriage, or hop on a plane to AZ to see the best maternal and fetal medicine specialist in the world. After we decided to choose life, God granted me peace. My fear had passed away, and this new sense of calm and strength arose. I take no credit for this change, but was merely witness to it.
For those of you who know me, know that I have a rich inner life. I may be an ambivert on the Meyers Briggs, but I believe I’m a true introvert. I process life on the inside and share with those I trust. So, why would a true introvert write such a telling message? It is to brag, but not on myself. It is to testify to the guiding grace of God the Father, His humble Son and His Spirit.
I feel like I blinked and a year has flown by. Every day is an opportunity of worship. I look at my children and sometimes forget in the moment where they were 10 short months ago. I see them kicking and rolling and can recall them doing that when they were all crammed in my tummy. I stand in their nursery and just watch as all of their little heads pop up like little prairie dogs from their cribs in the morning. I dreamed of moments like that. Our children are a true joy and a challenge wrapped up into one little package
So, on this day when we are beckoned to remember, I encourage you to first and foremost thank those who have served our country. Remember those who have fallen for it. But, also take a moment to remember and recall the miracles in your life. For you are loved!
All we wanted for Christmas was a Silent Night, and we got it!
At the conclusion of the holiday season, we celebrate not only the kids sleeping through the night but the passing of a memorable year. It certainly is a time of recollection; I ask myself: where have we been and where are we going?
It is hard to believe that at this time last year we were not even pregnant. We were amidst the emotional journey of trying to conceive. After years of trying, we found out in March, 2013 that we were going to have a family all at once.
The news that we were going to have quintuplets definitely took a few weeks to digest, and even longer to wrap our minds around. As many know, the emotional journey did not stop at conception but rolled on. With discussions about multi-fetal reduction and attempting to navigate the best possible perinatal care, our pregnancy was a trying journey. In May, I said goodbye to Frank, family and friends in Madison and hello to Mesa. Arizona brought new friends and the best doctor I have ever worked with. It truly seems like just yesterday that we hopped on a plane, praying that we would not be too late to have our urgent surgery. I also cannot believe that Frank and I were apart for almost 3 ½ months. Despite the miles that separated us, our marriage grew greatly during that time.
Then during the early afternoon on August 3, a nurse came into my hospital room and shared that were going to have babies in a few hours. With a bang we had a beautiful family. Many know the trials and tribulations that followed; the life of a NICU parent.
I sit amazed. I am truly awestruck at how God’s hand has cared for us every step of the way, His provision through His strength, Spirit and people never left us and continue to be ever present.
I look at my beautiful children, each a unique blessing, and am overwhelmed by His handiwork. The quints are now 5 months old. They are happy, healthy and developing right on schedule.
What else could we ask for? Where are we going?
Instead of choosing a self-improvement goal, I resolve to soul-improvement and to continue to be present with my family and to truly seek what the Lord desires for our family and I. On January 11th, we will dedicate our children to God at Blackhawk Church. I am excited to commit each one of our miracles to their heavenly Father for His will and His purpose.
I close with a prayer from Billy Graham,
“Our Father and our God, as we stand at the beginning of this new year we confess our need of Your presence and Your guidance as we face the future.
We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us—but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year.
In the midst of life’s uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love.
In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need.
In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.
And in the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need. May our constant prayer be that of the ancient Psalmist: “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end” (Psalm 119:33).
We pray for our nation and its leaders during these difficult times, and for all those who are seeking to bring peace and justice to our dangerous and troubled world. We pray especially for Your protection on all those who serve in our armed forces, and we thank You for their commitment to defend our freedoms, even at the cost of their own lives. Be with their families also, and assure them of Your love and concern for them.
Bring our divided nation together, and give us a greater vision of what You would have us to be. Your Word reminds us that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).
As we look back over this past year we thank You for Your goodness to us—far beyond what we have deserved. May we never presume on Your past goodness or forget all Your mercies to us, but may they instead lead us to repentance, and to a new commitment to make You the foundation and center of our lives this year.
I believe further explanation of how we went from “status quo” to “the babies will be delivered within the next 45 minutes” is warranted. I was settling in for a day’s work on the morning of July 31st, when I felt like I wet my pants. Now to be honest, I just assumed little Theo was going to be controlling my bladder for the day. But, upon further investigation, I realized he had popped his little sac and I had “broken my water.” I called my doctor’s office, but since they were closed it directed my call to the physician on-call, which just so happened to be Dr. Elliott’s “bat phone.” I felt awful for bothering him on vacation, but he didn’t mind one bit. He encouraged me to pack a bag and head to Ob triage (the moms’ ER).
We arrived at the hospital and were quickly shuffled in for an assessment. They tested the fluid and confirmed that indeed it was amniotic fluid. Then, they discontinued my nifedipine (calcium-channel blocker), gave me a steroid shot (Betamethasone) to enhance fetal lung development, and started me on 3g of Magnesium sulfate. I was then whisked away to ultrasound to confirm the culprit. It was indeed little Theo (baby A) whose deepest vertical pocket went from around 5cm to about 1.6 cm, which indicated that he only had about 1.6 cm of fluid surrounding his little body in his sac. His head was now so low in my pelvis he appeared as though his little body stopped at his neck.
The nurses assured me that once my contractions stopped, it was entirely possible I could remain pregnant for several weeks. This amazed me but they said it happens all of the time. Unfortunately, this scenario is only true if 1) your contractions do stop, 2) you tolerate the medicinal anti-contraction regimen and 3) you do not develop an infection. My contractions did stop, thanks to the “mag.” But, it was clear after 24h on the magnesium sulfate that I was not tolerating it, and my lungs began to fill with fluid.
Magnesium sulfate is used for contraction management. It is thought to affect calcium channels to slow uterine contractions. Typical side-effects include water retention, muscle weakness, sweating/flushing, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and blurry vision. For most, these symptoms are tolerable and some mom’s of multiples can again remain on magnesium sulfate for several weeks, in order to prolong their gestation. Unfortunately, I hit the jackpot and experienced all of the symptoms noted above.
My body was only able to combat these side effects for about 3 days. I was placed on b-pap to increase my oxygen saturation and Lasix to try and rid my body and lungs of the extra fluid. On the morning of August 3, I was moved back to labor and delivery due to my pending diagnosis of pneumonia. When I spiked a fever and my white blood cell count shot up, we knew today was the day. It was then that we got the news that we would get to meet the quints within the next few hours.
They informed us that Dr. Elliott was speeding to the hospital, on his way back from vacation, and we were going to try and wait for him to arrive around 4pm. But, when he heard that I had a fever, he gave the go ahead to deliver in his absence.
Thus, they unraveled the most well-orchestrated delivery I have every heard of. With over 20 people in the delivery room (6 teams: one for me and one for each baby), they delivered the quints in about 3 minutes. The entire “operation” took about 45 minutes. I vaguely remember these moments, but Frank was right by my side to catalog it all.
Following delivery, Frank headed to the quints’ recovery room. By the time I arrived, all were gone and up to the NICU. My mom awaited me in the recovery room, and was over-joyed to see me safe and sound. I, unfortunately, could not see our little angels until my fever subsided and my breathing had stabilized.
Dr. Elliott arrived and it was clear he was upset that he could not deliver our babies, but we truly respected his decision. He shared with Frank that sometimes as a physician you have to make a decision with your head and not your heart. If we had waited even a moment longer my infection may have complicated the babies course.
Those 48 hours preceding the birth of our babies, were some of the worst of my life. But, I know that without that treatment regimen, our 5 little miracles would not have passed the “steroid efficacy window” and may have been at an even greater risk for serious complications.
Our heartfelt thanks goes out to Dr. Elliott and the teams at Banner Desert for their superb, patient-centered care, compassion and wisdom. For I know that if we were anywhere else, the circumstances and outcome may have been very different.
We have much more to share with everyone and are working on getting some fantastic pics of the quints, so look forward to some more baby updates in the near future!
Friday we surpassed yet another milestone! The babies have been cooking for 7 months, which means we are now above the average gestational age for quintuplets. All of the babies were measured on Friday and they are all measuring within a day or two of the recommended size for babies at this point in pregnancy.
The picture below is a cool diagram that my sonographer drafted for us, which depicts where each of the babies are located in my belly, along with their current weights and percentiles.
The weight of each baby is estimated based on the length of the baby’s humerus (bone in upper arm) and femur (bone in upper leg), the circumference of their abdomen and their head circumference.
The biggest one in the bunch is Baby B at 2lbs and 12oz at the 62nd percentile. Little Elle Rose (Baby E) is the munchkin, but not by much as baby D and Theo (baby A) are also the same weight (2 ½ lbs) but just a bit longer. At this rate, when the baby’s are measured again at 32 weeks they will be about 1lb heavier each. Let’s just hope this Mama can keep up!
All of their organs (kidneys, bladders, hearts, brains, stomachs) look great and are also appropriate sizes. The blood flow to Elle has improved and has stabilized. All heart rates remain within normal limits, and are often on the higher side, which is probably because they just can’t sit still. We are truly excited to meet our little wiggle worms!
I am also doing well. It seems I am stretching by the day, but my body is adapting. Pregnancy is definitely a physical challenge, but the emotional, mental and spiritual journey that accompanies gestation is truly a blessing!