Friday, September 28, 2007

10 months old

10 months old! I look at my babies in awe and wonder. How did this day come so fast? Tony and I cannot believe that in 2 months we'll have two one-year olds!!

Some fun things we've been doing lately:
August (9 months old - 6 months adjusted):
  • blowing raspberries!!
  • rolling front-to-back; back-to-front

  • Rebecca likes to gnaw on celery sticks

September (10 months old - 7 months adjusted):
  • We sit!!
  • 1st time flying!! We went to Charleston, SC, to visit our new grandbaby (girls' niece)
  • Mary-Gail gets on all fours and rocka-rocka-rocka's (she's leaped forward too!)
  • Mary-Gail "creeps" around
  • Tried our 1st veggie - squash. Yummy!
  • Rebecca's top left eyetooth broke through on the 1st day of Fall (9/21)
  • Rebecca started saying "da-da-da-da"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Continued from earlier post

...Wednesday, September 27, 2006, exactly one year from today, was the hardest day I had so far. The impact of what just happened hit me like shock waves: I was centimeters away from loosing my babies! Sure, I cried in the office on Monday when I was informed we were dilated and Twin A was coming. But for some unknown reason I was trying to be strong for everyone - to console them, to tell them it was going to be OK.

Wednesday's nurse wasn't great either. Nicole would be my day nurse again that week, and she was a miserable, apathetic person. She moved me to another room on the Labor & Delivery floor (without telling me first) because someone who was actually delivering needed that room; she spoke over me to the other nurses in my room as if I wasn't even there. Thank goodness for my family who was with me day and night. I had Joanna & Mom turn my bed the other direction - I didn't want to watch TV (I hadn't watched TV since being put on bedrest) - I just wanted to look out the windows and lay on my left side.

I hadn't really come to grips that I was pregnant yet. I mean, I had to give myself shots every day for 10 weeks (progesterone to keep my uterine lining thick so the fertilized egg would implant and be "fed"), I had bled from weeks 8-10, and then began having contractions at week 17. It didn't feel like I was pregnant and I guess I wanted to "protect" myself from getting my hopes up and from getting hurt. I know that sounds crazy, but it's taken me a whole year to say that, and to come to grips with that too. I was going through the 5 stages of grief that 1st week in the hospital, and hit stage 1 & 2 on Wednesday: Denial and Anger. My Denial stage hit me on Wednesday morning, and my Anger stage hit me Wednesday around 6 pm.

Mom and I were talking about her pregnancy experiences. With her permission I'll share her story: Mom had 3 children and was pregnant with No. 4. She was due in January 1975. Mom was nearing the end of her pregnancy and didn't feel her baby move. She saw the doctor who tried to find the baby's heartbeat, but could not. He told her that there wasn't a lot he could do (this was before ultrasounds and inductions). Mom carried her baby, who had died, for 2 weeks before delivering her. Elizabeth Ann Brown was a stillborn. Mom didn't even get to see her - the doctor and nurses wouldn't let her b/c they said it wasn't a good idea. Dad said Elizabeth had lots of dark, black hair, but even he didn't get to hold her. During that time, that was standard practice. Mom was put on Valium. She didn't know who took care of Kristie, Jason, and Joshua. In fact, Mom says she didn't remember the next 3 weeks. People at church and those who knew her didn't know what to say. One minute you're pregnant, then next you're not, and your baby has died.

Having this conversation with Mom and hearing her tell her story, made me so, so, so sad, and so, so angry. Why would that happen? How could anyone let that happen? Why was this happening to me? Dr. Grover said I'd be on bedrest the remainder of my pregnancy, and she hoped we would get to 24 weeks. That's when we'd have a 50/50 chance of survival.

I was discharged on Saturday, September 30th after spending 5 nights & 6 days in the hospital. I was still pregnant. I spent the remaining 10 weeks on permanent bedrest at home. I had days where I revisited the Denial and Anger stages. But I mainly hung onto the Bargaining stage. My bargaining with my Heavenly Father lasted through 27 wks. I was re-admitted to the hospital the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 24, 2006, for bleeding and leaking amniotic fluid. The girls were delivered by emergency C-section 3 days later, Monday, November 27, 2006 at 27wks 3/7 days.

(the stitch that held the babies; Carly, Carol, Tony, Mom, Me - dilated to 3 cm; Dr. George Gourley (my uncle) & Dr. Glenn (right) delivering Twin A, Rebecca LaRae, 1 lbs 13 oz)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Today, like every other day, I took the girls for a walk. Tony had Pixie & ArlaMae with him on errands, so it was just Rebecca, Mary-Gail, and me. We did our usual walk around the quiet neighborhood. All the kids who once greeted us were in school. Moms and Dads were at work. It was just us in our double stroller enjoying the bright sun and the crisp breeze.

It was this day, September 25th last year that I found out we were in trouble with our pregnancy. I mean really in trouble. I saw Dr. Glenn on Monday, September 17th after having a few intense contractions followed by bleeding. A vaginal exam proved that my cervix had shortened and was soft. How could this be? He ordered me to see Perinatology on Wednesday, September 19th and to be on bedrest. Perinatology confirmed Dr. Glenn's findings and so bedrest it was.

September 25th, 2006, was a Monday. I was bleeding again. I called JoJo and she said for me to come right in. I had worked at Dr. Glenn & Dr. Grover's office for a combined 4 years, so I knew about pregnancy and complications and such. I knew when to get scared and when something was "normal." When JoJo said for me to come right in, I thought she knew something that I didn't.

Dr. Glenn was gone on vacation, so his daughter, Dr. Julie Grover, was covering for him. My baby sister, Carly, was Dr. Grover's nurse. She was there through the examination. Dr. Grover said that I was dilated to 3 cm. She could see Twin A's head and the bag of water. I was only 18 wks pregnant. She admitted me to Labor & Delivery. I still remember having to be wheel-chaired out of the office, through the lobby full of gawking patients, and through the entire hospital to get to the 5th floor Labor & Delivery.

They put me in the Trendelenburg position (head down 45 degree angle) hoping gravity would help. This was all at 9:30 in the morning.

12:30 pm Dr. Grover came by accompanied with my Perinatologist Dr. Julie Gainer, and her ultrasound tech, Todd Provost. They did another ultrasound and couldn't see my cervix any longer. Twin A's head was so far into my pelvis that the image was just black.

Another vaginal examination proved the situation worsened: I was dilated to 5 cm and Twin A's head was very visible.

4:30 pm I was taken into surgery. Dr. Grover & Dr. Gainer performed a cervical cerclage - basically they stitched my cervix closed with a "purse stitch." The scary part was when they reviewed the possible complications. Death, infection, hemorrhage, yadda, yadda, yadda. Then she said, the bag of water is pierced, your membranes are ruptures, both babies will die...

Joanna's crying. Carly's crying. Mom's crying. Dadda's is shock. Tony is in absolute shock and pale and helpless. The earliest baby to survive after being born prematurely was at 23 weeks gestation. Sure, the kid survived, but what was his quality of life? My girls were 18 weeks. Nothing could save them. We needed a miracle. We all knew these facts. That's the good & the bad of being medically inclined.

I had the option of an epidural or general anesthetic. Are you kidding me? Just put me to sleep entirely - give me a double dose just to make sure I don't twitch or anything.

5:30 pm I come out of surgery. Dr. Grover is beaming. The miracle we prayed for had been answered. She and Dr. Gainer somehow manipulated Twin A backwards, little-by-little, careful not to catch the bag of water. Somehow, Twin A "pulled" her bag back with her. My cervix was thin, but somehow they managed to get a stitch in. Somehow this all happened. Somehow I was still pregnant...

Rebecca LaRae (Twin A) Mary-Gail Darleen (Twin B)

My little miracles

My next week was spent in the hospital on complete bedrest. Jo, CarCar, Mom came in early before work to wash my hair, help me with a sponge bath, change my hospital gown, change the bed sheets. Kristie came in and massaged my feet and legs. Dadda spent the next 5 nights with me taking care of me from the early evening through the night and through the mid-morning. Tony was overloaded with our home business - he was just grateful that my sis's and parents were here so he could make sure we'd be able to pay for my medical costs - somehow.

I told my family again and again there was NO WAY that I'd be able to do this if we still lived in Charleston, SC. NO WAY!! I needed them. They forfeited their own lives and families and work to spend their days with me in my pitiful, vulnerable, helpless state in the hospital on bedrest.

I was OK for the first 2 days in the hospital. But, on day 3, Wednesday, September 28th, I lost it... story continues on Thursday, September 27th. Exactly one year from when "it all happened..."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"The Girls"

When Tony or I say "the girls" most people are confused: are we talking about Rebecca & Mary-Gail? Or are we talking about Pixie & ArlaMae? Long before Rebecca & Mary-Gail were even a glimmer in either of our eyes, we had "the girls": Pixie & ArlaMae. The original babie babes.

Pixie, my 18 lbs baby, was my 24th birthday present in July 2001. We named her Pixie because when we'd be outside playing, she'd pick up sticks and bring them to us and gnaw on them.

Pixie can always be found sunbathing

ArlaMae basking in the sun too

ArlaMae, my 28 lbs baby, was my Mother's Day gift. We picked her out of a litter of 6, 4-week old, all black pug puppies. We drove 30 minutes outside of Charleston, SC, to pick her up in 2004. She was so small and wrinkly - she could have easily been mistaken for a little piglet. We named her ArlaMae after my grandma (dad's mom). I wanted a southern-sounding name, and I love, love, love family names, so we asked grandma and she said it was OK.

Pixie was less then impressed with ArlaMae, but with Tony and me at work all day, we thought she needed a sister. Arla used to bit Pixie so hard that Pixie's neck would bleed. Arla was a vampire with Parana teeth when she was a little baby. Now, she just uses her weight to push people around.

So, when we talk of "the girls," you can understand why most people get confused as to which girls we're talking of.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Baby sign language

We have been doing sign language with Rebecca and Mary-Gail since June, after I attended a baby sign class. The instructor, who, with 2 other ladies, quit their jobs at Novell to started Sign Babies, shared her experience of baby sign with her kids: she began sign with her son when he was 8 months, and he began signing back at 10 months. When she had her daughter 3 years later, she started sign with her at 5 months, but her daughter didn't sign until 9 months either.

Well, as I said, we started baby sign with the girls in June (7 months, 4 months adjusted age) and the girls have been responding like crazy. Their not doing the sign with their hands, but they understand what we say and sign. We only use a few signs: milk, diaper change, eat, more. It is so amazing to see the girls get excited when we sign "milk" and say, "Would you like some milk?" and when we do diaper changes, and make the sign for diaper change, they bring their legs to their stomach. "Eat" is a new sign, since we just started eating cereals and first foods the first part of September. "More" is also a new sign - Mary-Gail appears to understand this sign, but Rebecca isn't interested. Could that be because I use "more" when we're eating? Our Occupational Therapist said to start using "more" when we play with our feet, toes, toys, everything. So,we'll see what happens in a couple more months.

This is so exciting!!!

9 month update

Rebecca & Mary-Gail playing in their room on Tuesday, September 18th
9 1/2 months old (6 1/2 months adjusted age):

Oh my gosh!! My girls are finally on the chart for weight and length!! Rebecca & Mary-Gail are both 2% for weight, and 6% for length. Here are their stats from our Ped's visit on Tuesday, 9/18:

Rebecca: 14 lbs 13 oz. 26.4 cm long
Mary-Gail: 14 lbs 3 oz; 26.4 cm long

(Of course, the girls' percentiles are NOT adjusted for their prematurity. Otherwise, we'd blow the scales off the chart!)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Jessica and her wee-little ones

My BFF Jessica had her twin boys on Mon, 9/10. Asher Bannister, and Soren Carlton entered this world weighing a little over 4 lbs each. Jessica was having some complications and her OB had to deliver her boys 5 weeks early. Click here to see pictures of Jessica's beautiful, strong new babies - the new loves of her life!!

Jessica had to go through the terrible experience of leaving her boys at the NICU and going home alone with hubs Jamie. No one understands that heartbreak, not even if you've gone through it yourself - everyone's experience is different and unique and personal. Jessica does report, however, that the doctors have a very positive outlook and hope to sent the boys home in 2 weeks from their delivery date!!

Memories with Pappy

My dadda and sister JoJo stopped by a couple weeks ago to drop off more boxes of stuff that I'd left at Dad's house when Tony and I moved back home from Charleston, SC. Ugh! What could be in those totes? We opened them up and, of course, books...and books...and books. It's like I was in some sort of collection faze. Jo and I rummaged through the totes and found lots of cute kid books. I was in a collection faze for kid books - I had hoped that we'd start a family soon. Plus, Tony would give me a book for my b-day or Christmas or just because.

Dadda found the Shel Silverstein collection of "Where the sidewalk ends" and started reading the passages to Mary-Gail and Jo's little girl, Reese. These are precious moments: Dadda's voice has the best inflection and he is so animated...
Pappy reading passages from "Where the Sidewalk Ends" to Mary-Gail
Mary-Gail loves her Pappy!
Pappy and Mary-Gail. 9 months old
(6 months adjusted)
JoJo and "Um-becca" (as Reese calls her)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Joys of Feeding

Why am I so pre-occupied with feeding? I don't know - perhaps because it's something we do 5 times a day and my schedule is wrapped around feeding times. Carly & Spencer thought they'd give feeding the girls a try. Lots of "open wide" and "yummy, yummy in my tummy."

I think Carly & Spencer's facial expressions are better than Rebecca & Mary-Gail's.

Spencer showing Rebecca how to open her mouth :)

Carly giving it a try - notice Rebecca's face....

Carly & Spencer double-timing Rebecca.

It has to be Rebecca's idea

"No way Daddy"
Rebecca folding her arms "If I don't look at you, you can't see me"
My favorite face. Rebecca puckers up and purses her lips together and breathes really fast in-and-out of her nose. It's hilarious!!

My kutie Rebecca is so silly when she eats. She makes some of the silliest faces - especially when I tried to feed her green beans - whoa! Tony fed Rebecca and Mary-Gail for me today since I had a date with the courts: I had to attend Traffic School for my violation from my car accident...Just some pictures of his adventure with Rebecca.

Baby Legs

My neighbor down the street gave Rebecca & Mary-Gail these legwarmers shortly after they came home from the hospital in February. I absolutely love them! I couldn't use them until now -too hot, and the girl's legs were too skinny. These baby legs make changing diapers easy, and "Miss Mary-Gail No Socks" can't pull them off easily either.

This was us before eating yesterday at 12 noon, and before our doctor's visit. (Rebecca in green polk-a-dots; Mary-Gail in pink polk-a-dots).

We use baby spoons and sporks to get the girls ready to put food in their mouths. Works great!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Doctors visit - revisited

(The girls dressed to the "nine". Me, in mid-sentence, holding my baby babes, w/my list of questions & concerns. Discussing w/SueAnn the girls' feeding schedule and my concerns that Mary-Gail is not eating and throws-up (I recorded the times and amounts for each feeding on an Excel spreadsheet). The tedious task of redressing Mary-Gail will all her cords - her Leeds kept coming off, so we put bandaids over then to keep them on.)

Today we're going to see our Pediatrician, Family Nurse Practitioner, SueAnn. She's awesome. She holds the girls, sweet talks to them, plays with them. She want to see what they can do, instead of just asking me if they can sit up. She wants to see them do it. This reminds me of the first pediatrician visit we went to....

It was February 23rd. The girls had been home exactly one week after being in the NICU for 3 months. I was nervous taking them out especially since Mary-Gail was still on oxygen and her apnea monitor. Her monitor was set to alarm if there were no breaths for 20 seconds. Well, she had alarmed that morning, and I was in hysterics. For some reason, Tony couldn't come with me, so I called my dad to see if he could come. "Of course!" he said.

Dad came over and I had the girls dressed in their cutest outfits (because we're the Kemp Kuties). Dad connected Mary-Gail's portable oxygen tank and stuffed all the cords into the apnea monitor's bag. We left for the doctor's office - with only 3 minutes to get there on time.

We sat outside the doctor's office because I was afraid of the girls getting coughed on or breathed on, or even starred at by other parents. The doctor's office was behind - about 40 minutes they said. When we brought the girls in, the MA told us to change them into a clean diaper and bring them out to be weighed. OK. I'll just get my diaper bag.... diaper bag. I didn't know I was supposed to bring one. I was having serious anxiety right then. Plus, I was a germ-a-phobe and didn't want my babies bare skin to touch the exam table, so I had Dad lay their blankets across the table. We were still in preemie diapers, and the office only had diapers for 8lbs and up. Our first visit was a nightmare. I didn't have any bottles, and the girls were hungry and crying. I had just bound myself after dealing with two back-to-back plugged milk-ducts and my breasts hurt. Oh it was just awful!! But I can look back on it and laugh and myself. I now always carry a diaper bag and extra formula. I'm still a germ-a-phobe, but not as bad as before. I learned that the girls will live, and they have.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Note from Auntie Darleen

I was cleaning out my email "in box" and came across this cute note from Auntie Darleen. Auntie Darleen, Tony's 'lil sister, lives in Ackworth, GA. She flew out this summer to love up some Kemp Kuties. Darleen stayed from 6/11 - 7/3 and played with the girls non-stop. However, Darleen's own daughter, Stephanie, moved here for school last October, so Darleen was here to see her too. Here is Auntie Darleen's note to the girls in its entirety (sent Friday, August 3, 2007). Darleen is commenting on the pictures we emailed her.

Auntie Darleen & Rebecca. Auntie Darleen and Rebecca doing "The Bird"

Mary-Gail in her Johnny. Rebecca on Auntie Darleen's lap

Auntie Darleen w/Rebecca & Mary-Gail (in purple). Auntie Darleen w/name-sake, Mary-Gail Darleen.

Oh My Gosh!!!!
I can't believe how much you girls have changed since I saw you last. Mary-Gail!!!!! You look sooo great sitting up in your little purple seat, You big Girl. And your Hair is getting thicker- I am going to have to send for you to live with me just to keep the toddlers off you. AND Rebecca!!!, Can a little girl look any more beautiful!! You look so happy and Content- I guess everyone is treating you the way you ought to be treated "Little Princess" I guess feeding time is okay, Please tell me if anyone is forcing you to eat rather than to enjoy every passing moment.
I miss my Nieces!!! Imagine if you can Auntie Darleen jumping through the Computer, if only for a moment to squeeze you and love you. I guess we will have to imagine it- cause Auntie Darleen is a little to big to jump through computers and time travel hasn't been invented yet. I love you all and Tell Mom and Dad I miss them some too!! But, You're my Favorites!~!!
Luvs and Smooches!!!
Auntie Darleen

Kemp Kuties on the Charleston Pier

Kemp Kuties on the Charleston Pier
September 2007