Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Week 11 Pictures

Week 11: Really Loving It

I'll start this week with the highlights, then a little commentary:

--Both babies have crossed over that bridge of "newborns can't stay awake for more than two hours"...they both consistently make it to 2.5 hours at the times of day when they are "supposed to" for babies their age now. It's amazing how fast they have caught up on the schedule to babies their age. In the beginning they were following the schedule for their adjusted age (4 weeks early) and now they are right on track with what full term babies are supposed to be able to do! They seem to really be thriving and alert.

--We ended week 11 with all four of us in the house sick. B and I had the flu and both babies had colds. It was/is their first illness. My maternal instinct showed up in full force - it is so sad to see their little congested faces crying! Kenna seems to be much worse than Nathan. Nathan is a bit congested, but Kenna keeps sneezing and has so much stuff in her sinuses. I keep using the nasal aspirator with her but it seems there is no end to it. She has been really fussy and just wants to be held all the time. It's so sad! I just keep comforting her and am enjoying the opportunity to "rescue" her from her pains. :)

Nathan Update

Nathan continues to give us lots and lots of smiles. He is sooooo sweet. Those little smiles just melt my heart. He smiles spontaneously at things and seeing little spurts of joy in my sweetheart just makes my heart leap. When he gets really excited he opens his mouth really wide and it looks like he is going to laugh, but no audible laughs yet! He loves when I smile really big and say in a high pitched tone, "TEE TEE TEE TEE TEE!!" LOL (Yes I feel stupid writing that!) B has his own ways of eliciting Nathan's beautiful smiles, like pulling his hands together in a clapping motion. Nathan has squealed a couple of times, but not too much. He does make little sounds here and there but I don't know if it's what you call "coos". I don't know exactly what a "coo" is, but I guess I'll find out one of these days! Nathan continues to really surprise us with his strength. I'll post a picture after this where you can see him holding his head way up. He only likes tummy time for a minute or so, but while he is there he is an amazing little guy, lifting his head way up and looking around both directions. He also has a really strong grasp. Although he isn't really reaching for things intentionally, he grasps at the air a lot and loves holding on TIGHT to my fingers or hair!

One of the funniest things that Nathan does is say his own special word when he is hungry: UN-GAY. It cracks us up because it does sound a bit like HUN-GRY and is very distinctive when he says it. When you take his bottle away to wipe his mouth or something he immediately screams and tells you, "UN-GAY!!!" It's so fun to respond by saying, "oh no! Not that! You are un-gay? I better give you the bottle back!" or "I know you are un-gay, don't worry there is more food!" Both babies eat 6 ounces 5 times per day, but yesterday Nathan was screaming UN-GAY after his 6 ounces during two of the feedings so I gave him more. By the night time feeding he didn't want anymore after 3 ounces. I took the bottle out of his mouth and said, "you don't seem very UN-GAY tonight!" He got a huge smile on his face and it was so precious. He was done eating. :)

Kenna Update

Kenna may not smile as frequently as Nathan, but when she does it is pure gold. She gets some GIANT grins (I'll post some pictures after this) and it's just amazing. We had some friends coming over to see the babies for the first time this week so I dressed her up in a new dress we have for the first time. She looked like a precious little doll. I love dressing her up so much! It's the pink dress in the pictures I'm going to post. I just can't wait for summer when I can put her in dresses every day. She has the cutest expressions. She opens her eyes really wide sometimes and puckers her little lips as if she is surprised and I think it's the sweetest thing - so innocent and pretty! There are two things that make her consistently smile. The funniest one is when she sees me get the camera out! I sit her up and when she sees the camera she almost always gets a big grin! So I always have a series of pictures with the first couple of her smiling (she doesn't smile the whole time so I have to get them fast!). The other thing is the flashing, music playing star attached to her play mat. Nothing else keeps her occupied in the same way. She just loves it. When it is off and she is lying under it, she stares at it waiting for it to blink and play its songs. As soon as it does, big smiles!

Kenna is doing a great job looking all around her on both sides now. For a while, she would look to her left side 90% of the time. The doctor said it might have been how she was positioned in the womb. I had been encouraging her to look the other direction for a while, but in the last couple of weeks she has really gone to evenly looking around in all ways. When I sit her upright on my lap or against my chest, she holds her head up really well and looks to both sides with intrigue. Her face is so petite and dainty...when I see her looking around with those inquisitive eyes I just can't help but kiss her big cheeks over and over. :)

I can't really get her to lift her head while on tummy time very much yet, but she's doing well when she is lying angled against me. Hopefully she will decide she wants to lift up like Nathan soon.

Me Update

I just have to say that I have really transitioned from struggling with the day to day to honestly and truly loving it. I find so much joy now in all the little things - watching their expressions, seeing how they develop new skills, eliciting their beautiful smiles, waiting in anticipation for their next milestones to happen, feeling their fingers tightly wrapped around mine, watching their eyes close slowly at night as they fall asleep, comforting them when they are unhappy. It is such an honor and a privilege to know them. I'm just so excited about our little family and all the time we hopefully have ahead of us together.

When we were at the mall a few weeks back pushing our double stroller through, a woman came up to us and sort of stopped me by putting her hand on my shoulder. She looked at the babies and then looked at me with emotion beyond her simple words: "You are SO lucky." People make comments all the time when we are out and about, but this woman stands out to me. It wasn't a flippant comment. I could tell there was so much behind it, though I could never guess her specific story. At the time I thought, "if you only knew how much we've been through to get here!" But I am reminded lately of how much so many people go through with infertility and still don't have their desired outcomes. It's really sad that there is not necessarily a correlation between how much work you put in and what the outcome is with infertility. It really stands out to me lately HOW lucky we are, and that I should never think "if you only knew how much we've been through..." Many go through even more than we did and don't have a double (or single) stroller to push through the mall. That woman was so right. We are SO lucky.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Weeks 9 and 10 Pictures!

My mom cracking Nathan up...I love this picture! Look at their two faces!

Nathan and Kenna hanging out

Nathan hanging out in his sweatsuit

One of the few times I have caught Kenna smiling on camera!


Some very excited grandparents meeting the babies for the first time...

Weeks 9 and 10 - Renewed Energy

I'm happy to report that here, at the end of week 10, I am feeling much better about things. My parents came to visit for the last week from out of state and it was the first time they got to meet the babies. It was also the first time I had a prolonged break, as my parents fully took over for seven days. OMG, what a difference that made.

I realize now that things were feeling harder and harder for me and I was at a point that I was desperately overwhelmed and exasperated. I had no patience left and was so bogged down in the day to day of baby care that I couldn't see the forest for the trees. I was *trying* to enjoy this fleeting time, but I wasn't having much success raising my head above water day to day. I'm so grateful for all the comments on my last post. They helped me remember that this happens to a lot of people and that I'm not alone, no matter how overwhelming it all seems.

Having a break this week was soooooo amazing. I was, of course, still in the house, so I was still "with" the babies, but I only fed them once a day and my parents did all the other feedings and naps. I would come downstairs periodically from getting things done and just pop by to admire my precious little babies. Oooohhh how adorable they were when someone else was managing all the details! I noted Nathan's sweet baby smell, the strength of his little grasp, his impressive concentration, his precious little cheeks. I noted Kenna's beautiful eyes, her amazing little grin, her petite features, her dainty mannerisms. Each time I came by to see them I was taken by their beauty, by the miracle that they are here with us. I just wanted to hold them, love them, cherish them. It's not that I wasn't in love with them before, it's just that I didn't have time to think about it. My parents left yesterday and I have a renewed energy that I hope will last for a while. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to regain the bigger perspective for a bit.

I've also been thinking about what an amazing gift J gave us. When someone can be credited for bringing lives into the world that otherwise would not have existed, they can truly be credited with changing the world. It's not just about our lives - if Nathan and Kenna are blessed to live full, healthy lives, they will have the opportunity to change other people's lives themselves, have children of their own, and change the world in their own way. It's a perpetual gift. I'm blown away by the magnitude of what J and other surrogates do to change people's lives. It is so grand a gift that honestly, sometimes it feels like a burden; I feel indebted in an insurmountable way. I wish more than anything there was something that would be an adequate way of saying thank you, or a gift in kind. There is nothing like that. I am reminded of that fact all the time. Standing "back" and looking at Nathan and Kenna from a slight distance this week, I'm just struck by how J changed our lives in ways that can never, ever be repaid. We have absolutely beautiful, precious, amazing, gifts from God...and J...in our lives.


As far as baby news, here's what has been going on:

--I have stashed all the newborn size clothes and both babies are wearing 3 months!

--About a week ago the babies had their 2 month checkup and vaccinations. Nathan weighed 11 lbs 5 oz and Kenna weighed 10 lbs 3 oz! They are both almost exactly at the 50th percentile for height and weight (for full term babies at this point)! Kenna's head is in the 30th percentile - she has a very petite and dainty face. :) Neither baby had any reaction at all to the vaccines (other than screaming during the actual shots).

--Kenna's time finally came to start smiling regularly. This week, coinciding with grandma and grandpa's first visit, brought smile after smile. Both she and Nathan loved my parents. Nathan was just one big smile all week. Kenna still doesn't smile as much as Nathan, but this was really her first week of consistent smiles and it was so sweet. Both babies usually greet me with a smile first thing in the morning.

--Both babies track objects really well with their eyes - they will follow 180 degrees both ways.

--Our last feeding is at 10 pm (still on the same schedule) and we have been letting the babies wake up naturally after that, then putting them in the swing for the rest of the night until 7 am. They have been waking up later and later, which is the goal (we don't want to have to do any swing time!), and last night made it to 5:30. We've decided to train them out of the swings now and started letting them "cry it out" as of this morning. They pretty much cried from 5:30 to 6:30 then slept until 7. Not bad - the books say they usually cry at least 2 hours the first time you do that! I'm also working on putting them down for naps without the swing first.

--Nathan lifts his head really well off the ground, though he doesn't like tummy time very much. Kenna doesn't show much interest in lifting off the ground. Her neck is pretty strong if you sit her upright, so hopefully she'll get more interested in tummy time soon.

That's all for now!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Week 8 - We're all adjusting

I'm behind again but trying desperately to keep up with my weekly update! I don't want to get too behind, because I will use these posts to fill in the baby books and keep the babies' history! It's so awesome that there are still so many great readers who care about our little family even after the surrogacy is over. I would blog each week even if no one else cared, since this is really for the babies someday, but the fact that so many visitors come to the site still is just a cherry on top! :) Thanks so much to all of you for continuing to check in on us.

I'll update on a few key things, then I'll explain the blog title.

The schedule!

Drum roll please. Ahem. 2 nights in a row. NO MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT FEEDING!!!!! (Picture me doing backflips of joy!) That's right, two nights in a row the babies have gone from 10p - 7a with NO feeding! Now, that doesn't mean they didn't wake up. They still wake up about 3a, but I decided two nights ago to try what one of the sleep books says - attempt to soothe back to sleep rather than feed so you can see if they are waking due to habit/inability to stay asleep for long periods vs. needing to eat. So, I moved them to the swings when they woke up and they both have gone back to sleep until the morning wake up time!

I credit this entirely to the beauty of the schedule, which continues to do wonders in our household. It's just about like clockwork at this point. One interesting thing is that when we started I had to use the 2-4 week old schedule, which I assumed was because they were premature. But in the last few days they have suddenly jumped way ahead and are almost hitting the eight week old schedule! They stay along for longer and take shorter naps.

We do have a couple of sleep problems. Kenna has a lot of trouble getting back to sleep during the day when she comes out of REM time (baby cycles are 45 minutes). She fully wakes up, especially during the morning nap, and just cannot go back to sleep on her own. On various occasions I've left her to cry for a long time and it just doesn't work yet for her. The other "problem" is that a couple of weeks ago I gave up on putting them down awake always like you are supposed to do (so they learn to go to sleep on their own). The problem was, I would leave them to cry until they slept, but they would cry so long that they didn't fall asleep, then they would be totally off in terms of learning the schedule. You can't fight both battles at once. So, I decided learning the schedule was most important first, and started putting them to sleep in my arms or in the swing then moving to the crib. I *HATE* myself for doing this because I swore from the beginning I wasn't going to allow them to become dependent on "outside" help for sleeping, but it just had to be done. Aside from schedule reasons, the crying was making me insane. Now that they are on such a great schedule, I plan to try again soon. My parents will be here next week and I don't want excessive crying to drive them crazy, so I'll wait until the week after. Right now, I don't mind having to put them to sleep in the middle of the night in the swing because it's helping them to learn to sleep through without eating. The next step will be to not put them in the swing but we'll wait for a bit on that.


We ARE getting smiles - not tons of smiles, but smiles. Some smiles are better than no smiles, right? Nathan usually smiles a handful of times during the day. Kenna smiles are unpredictable and far between. B said she was smiling like crazy at him last night during the 10p feed like he had never seen her do before. So, that made me feel better because at least we know she's getting there (I was getting worried). Nathan always smiles repeatedly during morning story time - it's his favorite (I read to them on boppies and take turns showing pages). Outside of that, he sometimes smiles later in the day, but morning gets the most. And I can't find anything besides story time that makes him beam consistently!

Current Challenges

I would say the biggest challenge for me right now is finding activities to fill up the time with. As they are awake longer and longer during the day, it's tough to find things to keep them entertained. I think they get bored (I certainly do!) and therefore they have been fussing more, especially in the afternoons. Not all out screaming like it used to be, just low grade "annoyance" (which results in my own low grade annoyance lol). It's really hard because they need more and more attention from me to keep them happy, but it's next to impossible to make them happy at the same time. I feel like while I'm keeping one happy the other is always crying, making it a less than pleasant experience. I would really like to have more one on one time with each of them and need to find ways to make that happen (with B staying with one on the weekend and me taking one or something).

I think this is just a tough stage to find things to occupy with since they don't sit up, they don't grab/hold, they don't "play". I spend all together too much time thinking about how I can't wait for them to be older - I'm so excited to PLAY with them! I get so excited thinking about their first holidays when they are older - Easter egg hunts, fourth of July pool time, Halloweens, etc. I think I have the mentality that I'm just biding time right now, trying to get through this phase that is necessary to get to the stuff I've always looked forward to. Then I feel guilty for not being able to keep myself more present and enjoying THESE moments. So, I'm trying. I really am.

We're all adjusting

I would say the theme of week 8 (and really week 9) has been that we're all adjusting (or trying to). The babies are adjusting to the world by getting on a good schedule, crying less, becoming more social, and coming into their own personalities more and more. We are adjusting by learning more and more about them and how to care for them. We are still adjusting to the new lifestyle. I sometimes forget that we can't just go out to eat anymore, we can't just go snowboarding, we can't just watch a movie without interruptions (scratch that, we can't even watch The Office without interruptions). I really, really miss having personal time. There are so many things I like to do and I haven't had time for any of them. It's a big, big change. Some days I feel like I'm doing really well, starting to get used to the new life dynamics, other days I feel really freaked out at the lack of personal freedom. It's not like I didn't *know* that this is what happens when you have kids. And it's not like this changes *anything* about wanting and loving them. It's just that it is a necessary transition for all new parents, and it probably is harder for some than others, depending on your personality and life before kids. I'm an only child, so I have always been very independent. It's weird to have two people depend on me for everything. In one of my blog posts about fears before they were born, I remember saying that I was scared I would feel like a person on one of those little gerbil running mills. Well, I do! BUT I wouldn't trade it for the world. When I think back to all the IVFs and depression and fear of never having these babies, it's almost unbearable to think of what it would be like if N & K didn't ever make it here. What if we never got to meet them? What if we only got to meet one of them? It's a horrible thought. We treasure these two little beings, even if is taking some time for us to adjust to everything having them means in our day to day lives.