What We Weigh!

We haven't been to the pediatrician in ages! SOOO, I guess we weigh about 24 pounds now...(May 10)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Some Mongo Babies!!!

We just got back from the pediatrician. I thought preemies usually took a while to catch up to their actual age counterparts when it came to size, but not these two.

Lily's stats:
5 months, 1 week actual age (7 1/2 weeks premature, don't wanna do the math for adjusted age) --- weighs 16.5 pounds, length 24 3/4 in, putting her in the 80th percentile for weight and the 50th for height ACTUAL age. Her head circumference is like the 85th percentile...

She has a small umbilical hernia still, and some sort of capillary thingy on her back we'll watch. Lungs clear, everything looks fine.

Eve's stats: Ditto on the age --- weighs 16 pounds, height 25 in., putting her in the 75th percentile for weight and the 50thish percentile for height. Her head circumference is bigger than Lily's...

He did note her back of the head soft spot was closed...normal I guess. She still has the middle of the forehead birth marks, which may or may not go away by age 5.

We go back on Nov. 10 for their 6 month shots, and on Nov. 23 for their flu shots. (I got one today at their peds office.)

NOW for the not-so-good news -- our ped doesn't believe in RSV shots. THinks it's nothing at all to worry about and all kids get it. HM...contrary to just about everything I read nowadays. I'm not sure what to do.

He did say we could start them on rice, barley or oatmeal cereals. (One week on each to see howthey react) and on yellow vegetables, like squash, corn, sweet potatoes. I'm holding off on the veggies though. I'll wait until they are 7 months actual, 5 months adjusted before i even think of it. They are far from spoon feeding. He gave us some samples of Enfamil Lipil AR because they have been spitting up a lot lately. And I'm hoping he'll keep giving us samples. He was surprised when I said we don't get WIC. He gave us both the AR and some ready to use just regular Lipil. That's nice!

Anyway, yeh, I've got mongo babies! We'll see how they are doing developmentally on Nov. 13. Who knows, in two weeks time they might even start doing a number of things they aren't yet!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lily Belly Laughs!

Just a quick video of Lily laughing upstairs in the crib one day. They don't do it often, and they like to only laugh at one particular toy on their mobile. But hopefully they'll start doing it more often soon!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The laugh

Well, here is Eve laughing too! She sounds more like she's choking at times, but she's not! Trust me!!! And Lily is smiling next to her. This was a pretty lucky catch. Eve just started doing it for no real reason. And she ended pretty quickly too! Got hungry I guess.

Well, enjoy! Lily on the left, Eve on the right...

Hee hee hee

Lily LAUGHED, I mean really laughed, yesterday! It was the coolest thing! Eric and I were laughing about something, I don't remember what, and she started laughing too. It was SOOO cute. I wish we had the camera, but we had NO IDEA she was going to do that. Cute can't even really describe it! I can't wait until she does it again! She's cooed before and a little tiny chucklely type thing, but never full on laughed before. It looked kind of hard for her, because it's a new thing, but she did it!

Both of the girls are taking more interest in the toys on their swing trays too. Lily and Eve both grab them, but I don't think they realize what they are doing. Sometimes they fall asleep with the toy in their hand. Right now, Lily is looking at one of them, touching it sometimes, but not really sure what to do with it. Or that she CAN do anything with it. But I guess staring is the first step. They are getting good at focusing on things. Eve is unhappy on her back, so I've got to go move her, but other than that, the girls aren't really doing much else that's new. I'll write when they do!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Baby push ups

Just posting a quick video and some pictures of the girls in "push up" mode. They still don't like to lay on their tummies, but they are getting a little better at pushing themselves up. The video and the baby in yellow are Lily. Enjoy. And please, don't forget to read the previous post on RSV. It's important!

OKAY, then the pictures:

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's approaching that time of year...

Well, for those of you who have had preemies, you know this time of year well -- RSV season. For those of you who are not familiar with RSV, Eric and I compiled an e-mail explaining a little about the illness and what we are going to have to do for the remainder of RSV season. (Reports we've read vary, but most agree end of October through April is "RSV season")

RSV, also known as respiratory syncytial virus, is defined as "the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia among infants and children under 1 year of age. Illness begins most frequently with fever, runny nose, cough and sometimes wheezing. During their first RSV infection, between 25 and 40 percent of infants and young children have signs or symptoms of bronchiolitis or pneumonia" and some require hospitalization.

Why are we telling you this, you may wonder? Well, the fact of the matter is that Lily and Eve were born premature and both suffered Respiratory Distress Syndrome at birth, and Eve's compounded into Broncho Pulmonary Dysplasia, or chronic lung disease.

According to the Preemie Care organization, RSV is particularly serious in infants born prematurely, children under the age of two suffering from chronic lung conditions and is a higher risk in multiple birth families -- if one baby gets it, chances are the other will as well. While virtually all children are infected with RSV by the age of two, preemies are at an elevated risk of severe RSV and each year up to 125,000 children are hospitalized. Some do die.

Lily and Eve have already spent far too much of their lives in the hospital NICU and Eric and I both agree, along with our pediatrician, that the risk to them during RSV season far outweighs the need for attending family get togethers, going to the supermarket as a family and frequent visitors. As hard as it is for us to make the decision, we think it best for the girls that we effectively "quarantine" them for the months of late October through April. Before anyone gasps and labels us overprotective first-time parents, please see this from our point of view: we watched our babies on ventilators, unable to breathe on their own, for the first week of their lives. We watched both of them turn grey from lack of oxygen at times and saw and heard the monitors alarming as these episodes happened. No parent wants to see such a thing, and if we can prevent it from happening again, we want to do just that.

We have come to the decision that we will not be attending any get-togethers during the aforementioned months. We're afraid that includes dinners at Grandma and Grandpa M's house, as much as we liked attending them and found great joy in everyone's obvious love of the girls. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving falls into the beginning of peak RSV season and because of the number of guests that attend, and the number of children we have in our big, happy family, Lily and Eve will be unable to come to Thanksgiving dinner. We will also have to bow out of Christmas at whoseever house it is this year. We can do our small family Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Jessica and Uncle Sean, but that will have the be the extent of our Christmas outings. The same goes for Grandma and Poppie K. Large get togethers will have to be put on the back burner for the girls' health.

Please don't see this as an excuse or a way to avoid seeing you all. We know that you all love Lily and Eve, and enjoy seeing them. But we ask that you respect our wishes and don't ask us to bring them to family functions. It is hard for us to do this, we also love showing the girls off. We will not be taking them to the store, we will be asking to wait in an exam room at any and all doctor visits they have to go to during RSV season, and anyone who comes to the house will be immediately set upon by neurotic mommy and daddy with the hand soap and hand sanitizer. Any smokers will be asked to refrain from holding the babies unless they are wearing a shirt that has never been worn while they smoked. Holding, in itself, will be limited as well when there is a group of people together. We don't do this to exclude anyone from getting to be with the girls -- we do this for their good. Unless you have had a child in NICU for weeks on end you cannot understand what it is like. It's nothing like having a baby in newborn nursery, who comes home with you at or about when you leave the hospital.

So, for the months of late October through April, Lily and Eve will become intimately acquianted with the inside of their house and nothing more. Hopefully, we'll be in the "all clear" next RSV season, though we will likely employ Nazi handwashing and sanitizing for a few seasons to come. For those we do invite to our house, we ask a few simple things:

1- If you are sick, have been around a sick person, even feel remotely near to becoming sick -- please refrain from visiting. As much as you might want to see the children, they are going to be a part of our famly for a very long time and not seeing them for a week or two will not kill you. But if they come down with severe RSV; it COULD kill THEM.

2- If you aren't sick and we do invite you in, please make the sink your first port of call. We will have antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer right there for your use. We ask that you wash your hands for at least one minute, or as some people say, the time it takes to sing the "alphabet song." Silly, I know, but it takes a certain period of time before washing effectively removes the layer of bacteria on your hands.

3- Smokers in the family, we ask that you bring a clean, unwore-while-you-smoked shirt for use if you plan to hold the babies. If you don't, we'll have to ask you not to hold them during your visit. (Yes, that goes out specially to Grandma and Poppie K..., sorry guys!)

4- If you have children, of any age, please refrain from visiting during RSV season. This is a hard one for us, as so many of you DO have children. Children, unfortunately, attract germs like horses attract flies, pardon the metaphor. School-age children and those in day-care settings are perfect germ-carriers and since RSV usually spreads in the early stages of the virus, it is often passed before real symptoms attack. If you have come into CONTACT with children recently, and they have just been, are, or are getting sick, please refrain from visiting us. You can be carrying what ailed them and not even know it yet.

Perhaps the most important thing any of you can do for us is not take offense at this and respect our wishes. We know that family and friends enjoy getting together and eating and laughing together. We want Lily and Eve to be able to do that for many years to come, and if it means them missing out on this year's festivities, so be it. In the long run, this is the safest combatant against RSV and the flu.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and we hope you have a wonderful fall, holiday season and early spring. We'll see you on the "other side" -- we promise!

(*Mom and Dad run and hide from the masses of disbelieving relatives...saying, "But, but...no babies for THAT long?"*)

Eric, Kate, Lily and Eve

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Congrats, Uncle Rob!

Quick update: Lily and Eve's uncle Rob was recently promoted to lance corporal. For those of you who don't know, Rob is a U.S. Marine currently doing a tour over in Iraq. He'll be over there for 8 months and won't see the girls again until they are about a year old! Crazy to think that! Here is a photo of him receiving his new rank insignia. Congratulations LCpl Kirschenheiter!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Shots and potshots

The girls are doing fine at home. They are eating up a storm and are gaining weight, though we dont' know what they weigh at the moment because our insurance messed up and is still in the process of "processing" so I ended up taking the girls for their 4-month immunizations at the health department and cancelled our pediatrician appointment. We're bummed about that, because we were dying to know what the girls weighed now! I'm guessing around 13 pounds! I could be off though, it's hard to tell. That would cover the "shots" part of my post, now onto the "potshots."

My target: The government. Society maybe, I'm not sure who I really blame for the problem. Here's the situation. The cost of these babies has really hit home for us. We received an explanation of benefits from the old insurance company for Eve's care in NICU. And ONE line on the hundreds we have received stated "Newborn Level 4", meaning level 4 NICU -- charges totalling $155,000 or so. JUST for her to BE there. That doesn't include IVs, initially IV nutrition, any medications, x-rays, echocardiograms, the respiratory therapy. I wouldn't be surprised if they charged us for the air she breathed, they charge for everything else. And that's just Eve. Lily's care was quite a bit more extensive and between the two of them, that easily breaks the half a million dollar mark. Of course, we aren't RESPONSIBLE for all of it. But even 20 percent of profession fees is a lot. We have an out of pocket max, $1,710 for Eve, Lily and mom, plus I believe a $500 co-pay for all three of us, but even THAT is more than our meager single-income household can afford! And to think, the U.S. is waging a multi-billion dollar war in Iraq. It's amazing to me that our babies "weighed too much" to be on Medicaid. Yes, that's right, if they weighed less at birth, they would have automatically been on Medicaid and we would be responsible for virtually NONE of their care costs. BUT, that's not the case because they weighed too much. A whopping 3.5 and 4 pounds. Wow. Of course, I had insurance, thankfully, I can't imagine what would happen if you had two parents who worked for small companies, like Eric's father, and didn't have insurance. But made too much to be eligible for government assistance. They would be bankrupt in a heartbeat. And all because their precious babies needed care.

I guess I'm mad at the system. I'll admit I often wonder how the U.S. can spend so much money on seemingly everything but the medical needs of its people. And physician's offices. Sorry if any of you are in the healthcare profession, or friendly with the healthcare profession, but really now, must you kill a whole forest of trees with bill statements! I could probably wallpaper a few HOUSES with bill statements. Hey, maybe it would get me into some "Odd news" category or something: "Stay-at-home-mom wallpapers home with medical bills". And to think, they are constantly calling us asking for their money. No matter that we have two new mouths to feed and can't afford to pay them $100 a month like they want. I'm going to have to fight them to drop the monthly payment down. I don't think it's right that they can demand we pay that much a month when we have a billion other doctors who want a share of Eric's hard-earned money too. Not to mention phone, electric, water/sewer, oil, car payment, student loans, mortgage, credit cards, car insurance -- the list goes on!

So here's the point: What does the government need to happen before they get their butts in gear to help those who have extensive medical bills? No average American can afford bills like the ones, Lily, Eve and Mom have racked up. Especially not on a single-income. Now, if we had had triplets, we'd probably be eligible for Medicaid. Hmm...but I'm not that kind of person -- the one who goes out and has another kid just to get the government assistance. WE want our girls to have a good life, not a scraping by life. SO, if anyone has any suggestions on how to pay off these bills - let's hear them. We're researching cash-out refinancing and home equity loans for debt consolidation. Any advice??

Oh, and if anyone is interested, it would be immensely helpful if people had a little time and wanted to e-mail, say Enfamil, of Similac, or some formula company and say they have twins and were wondering if there was a multiple discount or a free sample they could have. It worked for us once, but we can only DO it once!! :-) Just a thought! Love you all!