Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Super Human Alien Tricks and such...

OK, so this post is not going to have any pics... I'm having technical difficulties here... darn it! But maybe that will help me keep this blog down to a couple of pages... or not? It's not easy putting a muzzle on this one.

Just ask my husband.

But I really wanted to write regarding a couple of things that we have going on right now. And if I'm lucky I'll find a couple of you experienced mommies and daddies out there who can teach this old dog some new tricks!

So, one day I'm noticing that, HOLY COW! I might have just about lost that quad prego belly thing going on! But - waaaaiiitttt a minute here... something is a miss. I still have this strange cavernous area between where my ab muscles come together? And - EWWW! If I lean back just right the whole darned area pops out! GROSS! Hmmm... and what is THIS? It kinda' stays hidden throughout the day untiiiilllll mama T eats and then - POOF! There she blows again! No leaning back required this time?

Yes, it's official now.

I'm a super freak.

Now, my docs had warned me long before I had the quads that my ab muscles may never come ALL the way back together again after being so stretched out with this pregnancy. So, initially I wasn't THAT suprised to feel the separation - even after all this time. But the difference was this bulging alien-like thing I had going on... just in case you were wondering: NOT SO HOT.

In fact we recently had the opportunity to take the kids to see santa at the Great Wolf Lodge (and I do mean SANTA. this is the REAL GUY, folks.) and I was contemplating being one of those chicks who wears like shorts and a t-shirt over her suit as not to alert the public to my alien-like growth. And one thing I have honestly never been is extremely self-conscious.

Ummmm... you saw the quad-prego bikini pics, right? Yeah, I'm not telling you anything new here. This sista' has more war wounds on her body to show off than a lot of road kill - so I'm over it.

Sorry if you're not and you run into me in a bathing suit. I think it was kinda' weird for Jeremy as I was calling all my girlfriends looking for a one-piece suit to wear... SOOOOO not something I would typically worry about. And I did track down a one piece (thanks Beth!) - but in the end I said "F-it" and wore my normal 2-piece. I is who I is... I was there to tear that joint up with our kids, not be all self absorbed in my stinking bathing suit.

Yet nobody went all Ghostbusters on me, so I guess it wasn't as noticable while in constant motion?

Or, more likely, they felt sorry for the odd little carney girl.

But, the point of my story (FINALLY!) is that I have since learned that I have a 'massive umbilical hernia'.

Roger that. My growth is intestines and stomach bulging out.



They tell me that I have to have surgery to correct the problem or I could cause myself a heck of a lot MORE problems (it's gross - don't ask). And because of the size of my hernia I can not have laproscopic surgery (DANG IT! I really tried for this one...) nor can they do it as out-patient (most hernia surgeries are now).

Oh, and one more small thing: I can't lift anything over ten lbs for 4 weeks.

Summer is our ONLY baby still under 10lbs - and she's 9-1/2 as of last week so by the time I have the operation I'm out of luck! I'm not so sure how we are going to figure out what to do with mommy on the down-low. As of right now I'm just banking on the fact that I will heal up fairly quickly and it won't be nearly as long of a recovery period as they initially stated.

Probably just scare tactics, right?

Or not.

Seriously - I know enough after talking to the docs and doing my own research that I can't dink around with the "rules" on this whole gig. I don't want one of those attractive bags hanging off my waist for the rest of my life - that's for sure. And, more importantly, I certainly don't want to have to listen to my parents and hubby tell me "I told you so" for the rest of my life!

I mean, I typically have volunteers or some other form of help about 3-4 times/week - usually for 2-4 hours. If I am seriously as out of commission as they are talking for as LONG as they are talking... well... hmmm... may need to reassess, eh?

The good news is that Grammie is coming out of her orientation soon at Munson and so she'll be around a bit more by the end of the month. Right now she's essentially working full time with all sorts of tests and what have you, so we don't see her much. I hope that between Grammie and Jeremy's work schedules we can somehow rotate in the volunteers, Papa, Auntie Jessica, Uncle Hans, and even a visit from Auntie Kristy & Grandma Lew to cover our heini's - whew! It is going to be nuts, but I'm sure we will be OK.

What I am REALLY hoping for by sharing my tale is that someone out there reading our blog has been through this operation, or knows someone who has, and can offer some "here is what you are REALLY in for" advice. I know that a typical hernia is somewhat different than what I am dealing with - so if any of you multiple birth mama's can help a sista' out? Thank you in advance!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Figuring it out

Our little Cameron is back!

Every day we have our challenges and successes - but his pneumonia appears to be cleared up and he couldn't light up a room any brighter than when he unleashes that adorable nose-crinkle, crooked smile! Thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement.

And ever since my previous post regarding Cameron, my mind has weighed heavy with some things that I have a hard time talking about. But I am going to give it a try anyhow.

Jeremy and I are not perfect people. We do not always say the right thing. We do not always do the right thing. We are not perfect spouses. We are not perfect parents.

And, most importantly, we do not pretend to be.

It was extremely difficult for me to write about what happened to Cameron... I am sure that is no suprise... but it was more than reliving the nightmare of what he went through that day. It was acknowledging to all of you, and MYSELF, that it happened on MY watch and while I was alone. I have never felt so looked down upon in my life as when those police officers came in and were in complete bewilderment asking "Who is here to HELP you?" It was as if they had me under interrigation and I was guilty of being alone with my six children.

Oh I get it alright, six is a LOT when they are all 4 and under, folks. But up until that day, that moment, I had always brushed off the comments that we get: "You are amazing! I could never do what you do! I am just in awe of you!" As much as we are completely flattered by it all, we are also utterly embarrassed knowing it couldn't be further from the truth. Those of you who know us know that we vehemently deny any and all claims that we somehow do it better than any other parent out there would do if put in our shoes. We do not believe that because we were chosen for this role by God that we somehow transend the everyday mistakes and sometimes poor judgement that each and every one of us succumbs to on occasion.

And yet there I was, alone, doing what any mommy/daddy does, taking care of our children the best I could.

How could I possibly let this happen?

But we also believe that what happened to Cameron could have and would have happened if there would have been ten people in the house to help me that day. You just never know. I can sit here and beat myself up that I didn't catch him sooner, or count my blessings repeatedly that I found him when I did.

I choose the latter road. I am grateful to have Cameron here and healthy once again. I can not undo what happened, only try to learn from it and do whatever I can to prevent it from happening again. Our cup is half full, in fact it over floweth, with all of the amazing blessings we have in this life.

I just want you all to know that we pour our hearts and souls into this blog when we do have the opportunity to write.

Often times it is hard to convey the message I intend to. Hard to dictate on a screen what your heart is bleeding about... at least in my little non-journalism world it is. But I try my darndest to write with all that I have so each of you can begin to feel what we do. Especially for the families out there who are living a portion of the world that we are - thank you for sharing with us and now I hope you can take something of value away from what we share with you. Often times I know that I leave myself wide open and vulnerable to critcism and judgement by writing so honestly and without a filter.

Oh well.

I don't believe that sugar-coating our life does any of us any good. We are not the Waltons, we are the Lew Crew and we have good days, and bad days, and everything in between. We have our moments of euphoria and our moments of absolute chaotic meltdown. But in the end, we could not love our family and our life more than we do because we are grateful for each other. We live our lives the best we know how TODAY and if we learn something than maybe TOMORROW we will do it a little better... and the day after that... and the day after that. We have made strides in our confidence and ability to raise our family in a positive way. We have healthy 2 and 4 year olds that are finding their way as their new role of big, BIG brothers. We are so very proud of them. They have come so far with us on this journey.

Every day we get up and put one foot in front of the other and try our darndest to make good choices and show our children how much they are loved in the process.

Some days we do better than others. That is just the way it is. And I presume that most families operate in the same manner. We are no different. We just take away what we can from each day watching our children grow and learn... and melt our hearts in the process.

We love our children. We love one another. And we love our life. This much we know.


Thank you all for calling and writing after reading about our little Cameron. It was so nice to hear from so many of you... to know we had you all out there praying for our family and to know we weren't alone. All of the positive thoughts and insights are priceless. We value every single comment we receive and we are touched that you took the time to share with us. Thank you.

Day by day we are figuring it out. Day by day we get a little better at reading the signals as to what works and what doesn't with our six children. But we have had a LOT of guidance from some DO-ers in our lives as well that I have to share.

Regarding the formula/spit up debacle - let me introduce you once again to my girlfriend Heidi. A classic-case DO-er. She was just DONE with me listening to our peds (whom we do happen to really like) and beyond frustrated that I wasn't doing more to take matters into my own hands. So about 4 days after our hospital stay with Cameron a box shows up on our doorstep. It is a formula called Neocate. This is the gold-standard in formula - there is really nothing above it on the food chain for babies (except breastmilk). I was actually told by a nurse that you can nearly inject this stuff into your veins it is so completely broken down for the babies.


Heidi had tremendous success with it for her son - he had crazy allergies that were making him absolutely miserable until they found this stuff. I talked to our ped about it and he said it was a "bit of a jump" from what they would have us do - which was work our way UP the formula chain of command - instead this was essentially starting at the tippy top.


I wanted to see if this was in fact a formula problem for our babies. I am well aware that I have beat this horse to a pulp. I KNOW that preemies have a horrible time with reflux/spit up and that many of you think I just want to point a finger at SOMEONE, SOMETHING for all the problems we developed after the formula was introduced.

Maybe. Maybe. I can not deny that I just wanted some freaking answers and I just wanted it all to STOP. I was scared sh*tless after what happened to Cameron and I didn't care who thought I was full of junk - I just wanted results.

Just over a week later and we have not had a single projectile vomit incidence since.

I mean it.

We introduced the Neocate slowly because Heidi warned that it tastes radically different than breastmilk and other formulas and we didn't want the babies to reject it. But I kid you not that the transformation in our babies lives is remarkable - spit up is now down to a dribble here and a little blotch there. NOTHING like the shirt and carpet soakers we were experiencing a few weeks ago. It is crazy.
And so for any of you who think that I was living in a fantasy land that I could blame the formula? Well, I don't know what to say except that I am grateful for my girlfriend Heidi taking our bull by the horns and introducing the Neocate to us. And if this is somehow, some way a case of mind over matter? Well, I'll be a monkey's you-know-what if I could manage that with a set of 5 month old quads.

And if we can try to put what happened to Cam out of our minds for a minute - we are otherwise happy to report that we are staying reasonably healthy throughout the winter - a couple trips to the ped for icky coughs with the babies - but they keep reassuring me that we are doing fine!

YAHOO (and knock on wood!)!

We have had tons of visitors for the holiday season - grandma Marge, Uncle G, Aunt Tracy, our friends the Stevens... look at the chitlins in THIS pic!! And cousin Avery had just taken off otherwise she would've been hanging with us too...
Other big news in the Lew fam? Aiden told blue blankie to take a hike to the garbage can... HUGE news here. He even told daddy that he "needed a minute alone" out there (yes, it was spur of the moment - note attire) to decide between the yellow and blue blankies. We were all shocked that blue was chosen to be deep sixed - he's had it since he was born... this kid is really growing up.

Oh, and Aiden also changed his first (of many - I HOPE!) diapers!! Lucky Summer... ummmm....

And many thanks to Aiden and Caleb for donning their helmets and helping mommy de-icicle the roof at the cottage - these boys mean BUISNESS! Too bad they weren't about 3 feet taller so they could actually REACH some of them for me... without me having to hold them up... hmmm... oh well. 'A' for effort here. It was all about the look.

Papa and Uncle G luvin' up little Summer...

Avery, Summer, and Carley Stevens... All da' ladies be chillin'.

Little Caleb - Go Lions?

Aiden and our snow fort - a meager effort this year due to the fact the boys ate all the snow as we built it.

Our beautiful quads: (clockwise from top) Cameron, Summer Girl, Brockee, and Heavy D.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Being Thankful...

There are those times in our lives when we feel so helpless... so out of control...

Running on nothing but pure panic and adrenaline...

And only in retrospect can we realize the sheer magnitude of what transpired... try to piece together the details... and begin the healing process.

Last Tuesday was a beautifully snowy day - the holidays are here and the Lew family loves it! The big boys went down for their naps as usual and the babies started to wake up to eat right around the time I had finished cleaning up the PB&J lunch mess. Now, when I have help in feeding the babies we operate under the "if one wakes up, they ALL get up" rule - to keep some sort of schedule (I KNOW it seems cruel and wrong that we actually wake sleeping babies - but a schedule is better for everyone involved). However when I am alone with all the kids I try my darndest to nurse two before the other two are really ticked off and hungry too. Trust me, I have fed all four at once due to extremely upset babies on more than one occasion (nurse two with a boppy on each side with bottles for the other two) and burping becomes a SERIOUS juggling act!

So, since Summer and Brock were stirring first, I changed and then nursed them while Cam and Dane were still asleep. It is during these rare quiet times that I really, TRULY get a chance to reflect on how amazing our lives are with these gorgeously healthy and happy babies - each one of them so beautiful and precious, yet each one of them so different and unique.

Once Summer and Brock were done eating I played with them for a bit - these babies have things to say and are always full of smiles on a full belly =) Then I made the 1/2 and 1/2 bottles up for Cam and Dane and put their water in the microwave to heat up while I went to wake them and change their diaper (yes, we are painfully consistent). As I was walking out of the kitchen to get Dane, Aiden came walking down the hallway - he had woken up from his nap (or never fallen asleep) and at 4-1/2 he is only required to rest in his bed for a bit. 9 times out of 10, he totally falls asleep and naps, but when he doesn't it is no big deal. I know there are not many kids his age that still nap and he's going to school next year so he needs to start out growing it anyhow.

Since Dane and Cam were still sleeping I asked him if he wanted to read a book before I fed the babies, so we were heading into the back playroom to pick one out when Dane woke up. And Dane likes to be heard. Brotha' has a set of LUNGS on him, folks! So, when Dane talks, I typically listen - ha! So, sadly, as it goes, I turned and looked at Aiden and said "You go ahead and pick out the book, buddy. I am going to start feeding the babies and we'll read it as soon as I'm done, OK?" So, Aiden plotted back by himself and I went in to get Cameron (since I knew Dane was awake, eh?).

Cameron was sleeping on his back in his bed. We keep them all slightly elevated while they sleep and he had a couple pillows with a blanket overtop them creating a nice little nest for him. Only when I walked in I couldn't see Cameron.

He had somehow gotten his hand underneath the corner of the blanket and had flipped the corner of it just enough so that it was covering his face about over to his ear. Immediately my heart dropped and I ran up to pull it away...

Cameron had thrown up in his sleep - and whether or not this is what caused his reflexes to jump and toss the blanket over his face or not, we will never know... but what we do know is that the thick, mucusy spit up was plugging his nose and mouth and the blanket was over top it all. No airways were open, and therefore Cameron was not breathing. Cameron's face was bluish grey and his eye lids looked almost black.

To write these words now makes the event seem so... casual. Such a flippant conversation. Like I am sharing something I saw on the Discovery Health Channel or something.

Please know that this was by far one of the scariest events of my entire life.

I wish I could tell you exactly what was going through my mind and how I kept it all together - but I can not and did not. I was absolutely terrified and it's almost as if my body went numb in a state of shock in it's effort to process what was happening. There was no one else in my life but Cam, and as I grabbed him and flung him over my shoulder screaming his name I have no memory of being conscious of our other children all being in the house and watching me. For this I am sorry. All the training in the world does not prepare a mother to see her child in the state that I found Cameron.

What was my immediate thought? I honestly don't know. But I knew enough to do everything in my power to get our baby breathing. And thank God I knew enough to pick up my phone and dial '911' above everything else.

I could write pages on the phone call I had with '911' - it was such an emotional, torturous, frustrating experience. I am not saying the people who work the lines are not Saints, because clearly they are. But when you are in such a mad state of panic that you can barely breathe, the last thing you need is some overly calm gentleman telling you "M'am. I need you to calm down now. Tell me your name. And... M'am. I said you need to just calm down so I can talk to you. I am trying to help you m'am. Please calm down now..."

Repeat. Times 40.

All the while I am screaming into the phone "My baby is NOT breathing! My baby is BLUE! I need an ambulance here NOW! 204 Birchwood - 204 BIRCHWOOD! PLEASE HELP ME! PLEASE HELP ME NOW! Oh my God, Oh my God... Did you call the ambulance? We are at 204 Birchwood! Why aren't they here yet? HELP ME!!"

And in the background this man hears Dane cry so he actually says to me "M'am! Your baby is BREATHING! I hear your baby crying! M'am! Listen to me! He is breathing!" I do not know how to express this frustration. Wrong baby, wrong baby... and that is very hard to explain when you are in a state of utter dispair and panic.

As I was walking around the house screaming Cameron's name and trying to talk to '911' I had Cameron up on my shoulder and was whacking him in an effort to clear his airways. I was a lifeguard for many years and trained in CPR, but I thought that if I tried to blow in his nose and mouth I might make the situation worse... I grabbed our CPR/FIRST AID sheet off the fridge and began reading a bit more - it was more of a panic scan - but I still thought that I was better off not administering CPR.

Around this time little Caleb came out of his room crying. I had woken him up from his nap with my cries for help. Imagine how scared our beautiful Cale was to find mommy in the state she was as he turned the corner. The poor thing...

It felt like years, and I do not know if it was 10 minutes or 40 minutes - but somewhere along the chain of events, Cameron coughed. Not an earth-shattering cough. But a meek cough, a cough that did not prove to clear much - but a cough. And no matter how small it was I knew that it meant we had break through. Air could make it's way into Cameron's lungs and our baby could breathe.

Thanks be to God.

The amount of mucus that Cameron cleared with his cough was not barely enough to keep him conscious. And unless I continued to hit him on the back he kept falling unconscious in my arms... in my arms... I was absolutely convinced that I was going to watch my baby die in my arms that day... reliving that day... these tears running down my cheeks all over again. .

At some point I ran Cameron over to the window to try and get a look into his eyes... I know they are so telling... but what I saw was so frightening. His little eyes simply could not focus - they were opened only a hair - slits - and they were darting back and forth so quickly - focusing on nothing at all - they were not focusing on anything - just rapidly bouncing left to right to left to right... and his mouth, his mouth was hanging open a bit and bubbling or foaming...

It was absolutely terrifying to witness - our baby boy appeared to be gone. His mind seemed void, on autopilot, in a scary place. It was almost seizure-like, if I had to try and explain it better. Although I have never truly seen a seizure so I can't say for sure. It was horrible. And after seeing that my gut told me that our Cam might never be coming back.

I was still on the phone with '911' and felt like I was getting no where - the ambulance was still not here and it felt like it had been hours since I found Cameron. I felt that every single second was a gift that I could keep him hanging on - I was so frustrated and, well, almost angry at this point. Just screaming into the phone "Why aren't you here yet? Did you even CALL an ambulance? I need you to help my baby!"

The phone fell to the ground as I once again felt Cameron go limp in my arms and I panicked to stimulate him into consciousness... I was able to do so and I then ran to find the FIRST AID/CPR sheet again to see if there was anything I could be doing - should be doing better to help our baby. I then laid Cameron on the ground to see him better, picked up the phone, and quickly scanned the sheet in front of me.

I believe that it was around this time that I looked up for the first time.

There stood Aiden and Caleb. They were side by side in the doorway between the back playroom and the living room... just standing... and staring... at their mommy... who had completely lost control... and though they were not crying out loud, they had tears rolling down their little cheeks... I broke inside all over again realizing what they were witnessing and how I had failed to be a brave and strong mommy for them. They were truly scared stiff - and at 2 and 4 years old I can't even imagine how devastating it was to their system.

But unfortunately I could do very little to console them at that point because I, myself, was completely unstable. I went up to them and asked them to come into the back room and mommy would put the TV on for them - usually a rare treat that they would jump at - but they barely budged. Caleb actually turned away from me and Aiden just stared. I told them that I was sorry for what they were seeing but that Cameron was having trouble breathing and mommy was very scared... very scared... because I love them all so much and don't want anything to happen to any of them.

This seemed to do little to console either of them, but I was able to lure them to the couch and put on a cartoon while the gentleman from '911' lingered on the phone. He was repeating himself over and over still "M'am - you have to calm down, m'am. I can't help you unless you calm down. Are you on Birchwood Street or Birchwood Drive? M'am. I need you to listen to me..."

Apparently, overly calm people really piss me off when I am in a state of shock.

I was back to pacing the house and shouting back at him "WHERE IS THE AMBULANCE? WHY AREN'T THEY HERE YET!?!?" Again, I don't know if this all transpired over 15 minutes or an hour... I honestly don't.

And then I hung up.

I still hadn't called Jeremy and I really needed him there with me, and most importantly, the rest of our family needed him there.

When I heard his voice on the other end of my phone I completely lost it again - it was all I could do to squeek out a "Jeremy, I need you to come home. Now." I felt bad to leave him without any more information, but I honestly couldn't get any more out. It was as if all the life was getting sucked out of me too by this point - the adrenaline was wearing thin after so long - hearing Jeremy's voice allowed me to come down knowing help was REALLY on the way? I'm not sure. But I was just weak. Exhausted. I wanted Cameron to be OK... and yet, deep, deep down I honestly thought he was gone forever. I thought that the adorable, happy, smiley, cutsie, baby-faced Cameron we have come to love over the past 4-1/2 months was gone forever. He was still floating in and out of consciousness and all I could do was begin to pray.

I dropped to my knees and began to recite 'Hail Mary, full of grace...' over and over and over and over... all while rocking our baby and trying to keep him conscious. The other babies wailed in the background. Our big boys were sitting shocked in the back room. And there we were. Praying.

We had just had the developmental assessment team from Early On over the day prior - and every single one of our babies were doing SO WELL. They are progressing beautifully and are far beyond their 'adjusted age' - yet not all quite up to their 'gestational age' - but close. We were elated not but 24 hours prior.

How quickly our lives can change. How easily we take the good news for granted until...

The ambulance was finally here. The paramedics busted through the front door as I was on my knees still with Cameron - I wonder what a sight I was. And I can still remember them looking around, hearing the other babies cry, and asking "Where is the baby?"

As if I wouldn't be HOLDING the baby. I don't know sometimes... I just don't know.

I can still remember exactly where everyone was that day - Cam in my arms, Summer and Dane both in swings, Brock asleep in the bed, and Aiden and Caleb in the back. Imagine how confusing the situation was as they walked in. They just kept walking around saying "Who is here helping you? There is another one? How many are there? Who else is here again?" And then, finally, they took Cameron from me and pretty much escorted me out of the kitchen where they had laid him saying "M'am - you need to get back. Your other babies need you."

By the way, if I am NEVER called M'AM again - it will be to freaking soon.

M'am my arce.

But I knew they were right - they needed space to evaluate Cameron and I had 4 other children that I had completely neglected at this point that needed me (remember Brockee was sleeping).

So I picked up Dane and Summer and went to the back to see how Aiden and Caleb were doing... they seemed OK at this point - just kind of zoning out in cartoon world. And then one of the paramedics, or policemen, or someone came into the back to find me. He rounded the corner and exclaimed "Wow - there are MORE back here? How many kids are in the house, m'am?" And then, catching himself said to the boys "How are you guys?" They were impressed with this dude, he was in uniform. But it certainly added to the anxiety levels.

They wouldn't allow me near Cam and I began pacing the living room with Dane and Summer still in my arms, trying to find out what was going on. Was he breathing? Was he going to be OK? I had no idea how long Cameron had been without oxygen, and I never will... and that is all that I could think about and ask over and over...

Our neighbor Val, bless her heart, showed up and asked what she could do to help and who she could call to come stay with her and watch the kids. I was a wreck and no help what so ever. I am not even sure that I answered her. But she took over and began making calls. Thank you, Val. The first familar face I saw since it happened and I took great comfort in having her there to help.

The police officers began asking questions about where Cameron was, how it happened, etc. and I did my best to tell them everything over and over. There were SO MANY officers/paramedics and detectives there. I just wanted to get our baby to the hospital and save him. Ask questions later. And I wanted Jeremy with me... but he still wasn't home.

Val assured me that she was fine until Jeremy or a friend of hers arrived, and once I knew help was on the way I could leave with the ambulance to take Cameron into the hospital. They assured me that he was getting oxygen, they had a mask on him by now, and that he "Seems OK." That was the magic phrase from every one of them. He "seems OK". That tells you nothing and that is the way they need it to be. I wasn't allowed to sit in back with him, and that was frustrating and difficult, but I was there with him and talking to him every minute... asking questions...

Jeremy was running up the drive as we were pulling out... my poor husband... he had no answers and could not even come with us... only one person can ride in the ambulance and we needed him inside with Val to take care of all the kids. I wanted him with me more than anything. And as he kissed me through the ambulance window he once again proved to be my rock as he looked me in the eye and told me "Everything will be OK, T. I love you." I love you so much, Jeremy. Thank you for being so strong... for me.. and for our family.

In the emergency room Cameron continued to float in and out - but his color started coming back as they had suctioned him out the entire way to the hospital and his airways were clear. They had him on assisted air and now I FINALLY knew our baby Cam was getting the oxygen he needed. But he wasn't our Cam yet. He was mostly just sleeping, but would occasionally open his eyes a tiny bit to protest a needle or IV or something else they were doing to him - and he was crying which was a good sign too. He did not cry once until we were in the ambulance on the way to the hospital... the silence is terrifying when you know your baby is in distress and fighting for their breath.

Jeremy made it to the hospital fairly quickly - again - I don't have any real sense of the time - but I was extremely happy to have him by my side holding Cameron's hand and talking to him. We were in the ER for a LONG time - the first thing they did (other than IV, oxygen, ad suctioning) was xray his lungs to see if Cam did indeed aspirate the spit up. They scare you to pieces about this in the NICU and stress over and over how dangerous it is for little babies to choke and aspirate because it can lead to pneumonia... they explained to us that if indeed he did asperate that there was a good chance he would be transferred downstate - to DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids - because they do not have a pediatric unit equipped to deal with this type of illness yet.

DeVos Children's... where Aiden and Meadow were born. We know the hospital well... we still consider everyone that took care of us and our twins angels... but we were not anxious to return with a critically ill child and split up our family. We tried not to get worked up until we knew something for sure - but the thought of transferring Cameron was heart breaking.

I finally got a hold of my mom, who was actually AT the hospital working when we were admitted, but I couldn't get a hold of her until she was on her way home. So she turned around and was in with us now too. Thankfully, Jeremy had called Jess & Hans to come down to help Val, her son, and another neighbor watch the kids... so we were comforted knowing there were certainly enough hands on deck to help out with the big boys and other babies while we were all with Cameron at the hospital. But we also knew that the big boys would be really comforted by Grammie being home - since she lives with us and is a source of stability for them. So she only stayed about an hour and then headed back to man the fort with Uncle Hans and Aunt Jess (and Avery!). I can't thank everyone enough for dropping whatever it was they were doing in their lives to help us that day... Val, Hans, Jess, my mom, neighbors... the list goes on... thank you all. It is amazing to realize that we are so well taken care of here in Traverse... I have often thought how different it would've been had we still been living in Bellaire. We have very few neighbors in Hawk's Eye during the winter (snow birds) and the nearest hospital takes 45 minutes to get to... much longer on snowy roads like we had that Tuesday.

Once they had results, the doctor explained to us that the xray of Cam's lungs showed that he did aspirate the spit up... they thought. The only xray of his lungs they had to compare it to was from the NICU - and if you remember - Cam had a small hole in his lung in the NICU which caused a portion of his upper lung to appear fuzzy on the xray. Just like what your xray would look like if you aspirated spit up - fuzzy. So the results were tough to decipher... great.

By the time our pediatrician came in to see us and discuss their findings we still had no idea if we were staying or going... but she was awesome. Our doctor truly calmed our fears and did a fantastic job of putting Cam's situation into perspective. She assured us that she did not feel it was necessary to transfer him down to Grand Rapids unless he took a turn for the worse overnight - but she had no reason to anticipate that happening. Not that he wasn't sick - he had surely been through h*ll and back... we were all still extremely grateful that he appeared to be recovering as he was needing less and less oxygen assistance as the night wore on - but he was not declining and that was phenominal news. I still couldn't stop reiterating the fact that I had no idea how long he laid in the bed without oxygen before I found him... and asking how we would know if there was any lasting damage? Cameron was not declining, but he also was no where near the smily, bubbly Cameron we knew and loved. He was still extremely wiped out and sleeping most of the time. But he started to respond to our voices a bit and open his eyes a little more. I did nurse him as well after I checked with our ped to make sure it was OK - since I knew it would be a good sign if he would/could eat - and he had missed 2 feedings now. He did wonderfully and we were all so happy with his progress... but the ped explained over and over that it is really a 'wait and see' game with this type of incident to determine if there are any long-term lasting effects. They were keeping us at least over night to run all sorts of tests; more xrays, ekg, eeg, etc. and try to get as much information as we could on Cameron's situation.

We were moved up into the pediatric unit that night where Cameron and I stayed so he could be closely monitored... I was even allowed clearance to have Jeremy bring another baby back up with him to stay with Cameron and I for the night (he had went home prior to our getting moved to put the big boys to bed and pack me a bag) so that it wouldn't be so hard on him and Grammie over night. But in the end the roads actually got pretty bad and it was late before they were finished feeding the other babies... so we decided it was best that he didn't come back up.

Cameron and I had date night.

All alone - for the first time he didn't have to share mommy... he deserved it and I was thankful to have this time with him. I really don't want this to come out the wrong way - but I'm sure it will... I have said to a select few that there are times I feel saddened for those mommies out there who have only experienced high order multiples. I do not mean any disrespect by this for certainly it is an extremely challenging road to mow and I applaud those who do not succumb to the pressures out there... I won't go there right now for fear of writing another 20 pages on a tangent. But if you have read earlier blogs you have an idea what I am talking about. However, there are certain things that you truly do miss out on with multiples that we are all aware of - the most difficult being time alone with each baby and enough time in the day to feel that you gave each of them as much attention and love as they could absorb. Another is feeding times. Pretty sure that I have made myself abundantly clear on my stance with regards to nursing your children. And with Aiden and Caleb - having only one child to nurse makes it an amazingly beautiful and selfish experience for mommy. I was never shy about the fact that it was one of my favorite times with our babies because I didn't have to share them with anyone... it was so comforting to them... and you are the center of their universe during that time... I often looked forward to our babies getting hungry again because it meant that I had this EXCUSE to be alone with the baby - ridiculous? I know. Maybe it sounds that way - but it's the truth and if you'd seen Aiden at about 6 months old you know that mommy LOVED to feed her baby! He was so chunky he was square and had no neck.

Anyhow, with multiples the stakes are a little higher with 4 hungry mouths to feed all at the same time. Throw in some horrible cases of reflux, some picky eaters (WE WANT NO FORMULA), and a couple prescriptions that taste like muck and you have got yourself a recipe for disaster if all the cards fall the wrong way at once. It is a crazy juggling act for one person, and even at a really good feed (which we have MANY of - don't get me wrong) it is not so much about enjoying the moment with the babies as making sure everyone is eating well, burping at the appropriate times, not barfing while burping, nobody gets so worked up waiting for their turn to eat that they REFUSE to eat or immediately barf everywhere... you get the picture.

But that night in hospital it was Cameron and me. That's it. And it felt wonderful to remember how beautiful it is to devote 100% of yourself to one gorgeous baby. And even though he was all hooked up to monitors (NICU flashbacks.. ugh) and IV's - I slept with him at my side and nursed him whenever I could to comfort him... it was just wonderful. And that next morning when I felt him stirring next to me... I opened my eyes and looked down at our beautiful baby... and he opened his eyes wide, looking up at me, and smiled.

Our Cameron was back.

It still gives me goosebumps.

That was an amazing moment for me - I don't think I will ever forget it.

Please keep in mind that up until that point Cameron still hadn't really opened his eyes all the way (we like to joke that Cameron always looks excited because he has such big, beautiful eyes!), hadn't really recognized us, definitely hadn't smiled - and oh boy - those Cameron smiles! They are priceless gems filled with dimples and crooky smiles =) I could see the life in Cam's big eyes again, I could see our baby.

Times like these there is truly nothing you can do but thank God. We honestly went to bed not knowing what the outcome would be for Cameron and if we would ever see the light in his eyes again - and I woke up with our prayers answered.

And as the tears once again rolled down my cheeks, they were happy tears this time. I hugged Cameron as tight as I could and smothered him in kisses as I praised God over and over and over again... "Thank you God, Thank you God..."

That morning Cameron endured all the testing the doctors had ordered for him; EEG (brain - to look for signs of a seizure), EKG (heart), another xray (lungs), as well as the fact they had been taking his vitals like every 3 hours or something crazy all through the night (so much for our night of undisturbed sleep together). I was by his side for all of them and he did great - that EEG prep is painful to watch! It honestly took for-EVER to get any sort of results - and that was frustrating. Yes, I was thrilled - Cameron was acting completely normal and I felt really good that the chances he had any lasting damage are not as high as I had thought. I truly thought it was inevitable not knowing how long he'd been oxygen deprived. But the doctors assured me time and time and time and time again that I must have walked in and found Cameron fairly quickly after it happened because if he had been without oxygen for any extended period of time (they can't pin-point what exactly EXTENDED is... 2 minutes? 10 minutes? 20 minutes?) his heart would have stopped and would not have been able to resesitate him by merely whacking him on the back.

The consistency of this message from them has done wonders in helping to calm my fears about Cam's future. Yet we had not seen the doctor yet nor received any test results by early afternoon and it was FRUSTRATING. When the ped finally made it into our room that day he still did not have all the answers - the EEG would take days to get back results on - but he felt that Cameron would continue to recover well. They believe that he has pneumonia due to the aspiration and so he is on medication for that. But other than that everything seemed OK.

They were searching for answers as to WHY Cameron spit up in his sleep that day - while Jeremy and I were looking for answers as to whether or not he would be OK because we feel that we KNOW why - FORMULA. Yes, it is odd that he spit up so far after a feeding, we don't normally see that amount that far after the fact... but they have been having such a hard time adapting to their 1/2 formula, 1/2 breastmilk bottles... but I promise I won't go off about it all again. I just want to say that I am no longer taking this problem as lightly - we are downright ticked off. We want solutions and we want answers - NOW. I am doing all the research I can on my own to get our babies healthy and eating well again... it nearly cost little Cam his life.

I swear I sleep with one eye open now, and I don't let any of them out of my sight at nap time for fear that history will repeat itself at our home... it is a blessing beyond words that I got to Cameron when I did.

Thank you God.

Thank you Angel Meadow.

Thank you Dane. Without his cry I would've read Aiden that book first instead of going to wake Cameron to eat and that extra 10 minutes... well... I don't want to think about it.

It has been a week now and we are starting to get back to life as "usual" - Cameron is trying to eat without being sick and Dane is hot on his case for title of most projectile vomit. It's horribly sad, but we are trying to do everything we can to help all our babies get through feeding time the best they can - especially with the meds for pneumonia and GERD. Nobody likes the meds... and trying out feeding methods, noise levels, burping intervals... we are testing it all and taking notes on what works and what clearly DOES NOT. We will get there - and in the meantime we are loving our babies up. Cameron seems to have an extra sparkle in his eye since our horrible scare last week - he has been a champ at the tummy time rollovers and reaching for his siblings! I am so happy to see him thrive - any and all reassurance that he is going to OK...

Thank you for your prayers - and please continue to pray that we find our way - I know we will - this is one tough family I am a part of ... I love each and every one of our children so very much and it is times like these that we are reminded how precious life is... we never forget, but we appreciate a little more now too.

I realize this blog became extremely long as I wrote about what happened to Cameron last week - and I feel that I could write on for another 3 hours... but please understand that it is hard to put into words what we went through.

And I hope you'll enjoy these pics of our fam:

Caleb checking Dane's heartbeat during a rigorous tummy time/rollover session... uhhh... Cale? WHERE is his heart again?

Cameron smiling in all his glory

Dane and his big baby blue eyes...

Summer Girl - did Cam just finish with a good joke, or what?The Lew Crew - and our Charlie Brown Christmas tree... yeah baby!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gobble Gobble...

Hope you all enjoyed a happy thanksgiving with your families... we sure did... and boy did we have a list when it came time to be thankful this year...

Including these two little gobblers (Caleb & Aiden)...

And this crazy brood as well (Dane, Brock, Summer, & Cam)...

We have six healthy children to celebrate in our family - our please note that HEALTHY part... every week is another victory!

Our turkies were something straight outta' your local hilbillies guide on how to throw a fan-dangled celebration dinner - fresh from this here local turkey farm - one all pinned up wit stuffing fer da' oven and the other nice en ripe fer fryin'.

Wow. Do we know how to entertain, or what?

We had so many of our family members in town for the holiday and it couldn't have been any better... unless ALL of them could've been here - WE MISSED YOU AUNTIE KRISTY!!! A huge THANK YOU once again to Buddy and Suzy - they opened up their home to us while they were downstate with their own families so that we could all enjoy a festive meal together - without literally sitting on each others laps =) I mean, we're a close knit group and all... but...

ANYHOW - it worked out amazing and we were able to get more pics of the quads with them all alert and HAPPY than we could BELIEVE!! It was rocking - these babies are blowing our minds - cooing, smiling... melting hearts every step of the way! And chillin' with cousin Avery has been a blast! She's our sneak peak into everything on our horizon being that she's only a couple months older than the quads - and she is just FULL of life these days! Love that little munchkin so much!

So thank you all for your comments, calls, and emails about my formula dilemas. I am so very aware that I must come off as a nursing nazi. Oh well - I make no apologizes - but I sure appreciate your advice and "I've been there..." stories! We are now on the GentleEase formula (except Summer... she won't drink any of this formula! Little princess... still gets nursed every single time... bumping out her bro's in the rotation! She's got it figured out, folks... got it figured out) and hoping that everyone will do well on it. Although it seems to me that they are more HUNGRY now than before? Is there some science behind the fact that if it's more easily digested than their bodies process it more quickly and, hence, they are hungry sooner? I dunno... probably just a growth spurt or something - but curious if my mad mama scientific theory held any weight.

We also started doing what my sister-in-law Jess called a "dream feed" (from one of her sleep books I think) a couple weeks ago to encourage this sleep through the night thing. They have been doing pretty darned amazing, considering there is FOUR of them... I mean, usually SOMEONE is bound to get up at night for some squaking - but not ALL of them anymore and we are seeing improvements and setbacks every week - to be expected for sure. So we feed them at like midnight or so to try and get them through to 6 or 7am. And during this feed we are extremely low key - doing our best not to wake them at ALL - no lights, talking, diaper changes, etc. Just feed and burp and put to bed. The best is when their little eyes never even open... like she says... it's all a dream ("dude, did I just eat, or not?"). I will say that there is less pacifier-popping at night when we do this and they seem to sleep more soundly - for the most part (all subject to change nightly - ha!).

Anyhow, during our action-packed holiday weekend we took the whole fam downtown TC for the big Christmas tree lighting (it only took them about 4 tries... think they would've tested that sucker first,eh?) and saw Santa from a distance (pretty sure he was lit up)... and we also baptized the quads that Saturday night... what an amazingly emotional experience. They held the baptism after mass, which was different for us. Both Aiden and Caleb were baptised in Bellaire DURING mass and it was a family-community feeling... and so we were a little unsure how we were going to feel about being at a new church holding the service after mass. But in the end, it was perfect. An intimate, family gathering (several families stayed to see us as well which was nice) that exceeded all of our expectations.

Thank you to our family for being there for us and our babies, it was a long trek for most of you and we want you all to know how much it meant to us that you could all be there with us. Especially the Godparents; my brother, Glenn, his wife, Tracy, my sister in law, Jessica, her husband, Hans, and my sister in law Kristen... the only sadness of the entire event was that Kristy could not be with us as she is studying in Florida (go Gators!) - but we know she was thinking of us as we were of her.

Thank you as well as St. Joe's on Old Mission Peninsula for opening up their hearts and making us feel at home. Thank you as well to the Schramski and Rosa families for letting us borrow their beautiful baptism gowns... no one ever needs to know that we could've fit two quads in each outfit =) It was great...

I am so thrilled that the holidays are here and the snow is flying - YAHOO!!! And being in Traverse is just awesome - Jeremy nor I are having to drive long distances in the mucky roads this year and it's SWEEEEEEEEET!! Although not so thrilled that RSV season is almost upon us and the constant threat of our babies/family getting sick this winter. It's all we can do to keep ourselves healthy (as you know - if you've been to visit - SCRUB UP AND SANITIZE PEOPLE!) - we take no chances. The stakes are too high with our precious preemies - even though they are looking HUGE and HEALTHY! As of last week: Dane: 11#0oz; Cameron: 10#6oz; Brock: 10#2oz; and Summer Girl: 8#5oz!!! WHAT!?!?! We are 4 months old and catching up on that curve the ped keeps marking our progress on - yeah baby!

And now I just wanted to shut up (HUH?) and share with you some snap shots of our babes:

Uh, Brockee? You coppin' a feel with A. Tracy? Sneaky little dude... and all smiles about it!

A progressive pic of the babes playing, and then - POOF - out (except Summer girl - she likes to party on occasion)! Too cute...

All the babies smiling - they will melt your heart in about 4 seconds flat these days!! It is just amazing how quickly they are changing... I need a time capsule to catch it all before it seems like a distant memory...

Summer Girl in her Thanksgiving Day dress glory! Mommy LOVES this dress up stuff! HOW FUN!

Dane - and those big, blue eyes - giving us one of his famous gummy smiles!

Dane (left) and Brockee (right) - light it up Brock! This kid is seriously like a party in a bottle - he is non-stop laughter and smiles!!

Can you guess which one is our adorable Cam? Our little baby face... and look at that dimple!

Big bro Cale reading stories to the babies (Dane, l, and Brock, r) in an effort to cheer them up... wow is he a cutie! Storytime lasted all of 36 seconds before he threw in the towel - but -hey! He tried!

And finally, Summer Girl snuggling up with mommy... these are the times to remember, folks... everyday...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Isn't this a fun scene to walk into? No, not staged.

Dad just chillin' in the back room with Summer and Cam watchin' some... TV.

Hey - you can't win 'em all, eh?

The point being it was so stinking cute to stumble upon - arm up around them both and all =) Melt a mama's heart!

And then of course I have to share our fall leaf-jumping pics with you too! Aiden, Caleb, and I worked dilegently - in the 70 degree weather TWO WEEKS AGO (not the snow we are currently enjoying... ) to rake up the backyard and make some SWEET leaf piles for PRIME TIME LEAF JUMPING!!! We had a great time... it's so nice to have time to spend with the big boys - really. They truly are the ones who were the most affected when I was pumping - there was about zero time for them by the time the baby-cycle was complete. I am absolutely flabbergasted by how much time has freed up in my life now that I don't pump! Granted there is a bit more prep-time with bottles using formula instead of just breast milk - but not that much of a difference. It's amazing! And, as much as I'm not loving the formula in our life - we are getting by and I would say that it has been a good change for our family overall. The babies might disagree because their little bodies are still in a state of flux trying to get used to the new goods - but I have confidence that they will adjust. I just PRAY that they stay healthy this winter!! And, no, I'm not saying that formula=sick babies... I'm just worried that in an already-fragile situation less breast milk immunity can NOT be BETTER. We already went for our first round of RSV shots - yahoooooooooooooo.... more shots? Certainly no fun but certainly worth it. I just hope that the fact that the majority of the milk they drink is still breast milk will keep them safe and healthy, healthy, healthy this winter!!

Oh, and prune juice works. Prune juice works. We have a go on the poop.

But what about the excess gas issue we are having too with this formula? One of our volunteers told me to go with the concentrate vs. powder and that should help? The docs say there is a "less gassy" formula out there, but to wait a while to switch to see if thier bodies figure it out first? Let me tell you, this could be one painful waiting game for our babies! Just curious what success any of you have had with waiting it out vs. switching over for gassiness... wow... I need to hush up about things that come out of our babies bums, eh? I'm getting down right grossed out myself!

Ahhhhh... the glamourous side of being a hot mama.

In the end it all boils down to poop and gas.


Although I guess I might as well freaking get used to it with 5 boys... oh, make that 6 boys with daddy, in the house. I'm sure I won't have many laugh fests over gas in my future with all these boys... nooooo...

I say that and then realize that the other night it was my sister in law Jessica and I who were consumed with the poop/gas conversation... not so much the boys... hmmm.... if I remember correctly I believe that Hans and Jeremy were solely focused on their Natty Light vs. Light Ice taste test... yeah, yeah... nothin' but the good stuff up here kids. We are a pretty high ball group.

And while I'm on the subject, a huge thank you to Jess and Hans (and Avery!) for everything they have done, and continue to do for our family. I mean, they ARE our family - and we couldn't be more grateful that they picked up and moved up north to be with us. It's SUCH a different world for Jeremy and I having FAMILY here! First my mom and now them - it's just crazy how cool it is when they just "drop by" and how we have dinner together as a family at LEAST 3-4 times/week!! Jess and I have 'girl's night' together on Thursdays with a couple other gals at yoga and then meet up with more afterwards and Jeremy and Hans take on the chitlins together!! This is my new "hall pass" night - and, yes, to ensure that daddy Lew doesn't change his mind about mama T getting out of the house once/week I do bring over 2 babysitters that night to help out.

It's all about insurance, folks.

But seriously, having Jess and Hans and my mom here is so rocking cool - our kids now see them all as part of their everyday lives instead of some rare treat (I suppose that could go either way) and we love it. Grammie was sick for the past week and a half (SHINGLES - WHAT!?!?!) and so she was downstate - the boys were beside themselves trying to figure out why she left and constantly asking when she was coming back. And the same with Jess and Hans - even though it's a little different because they have their own house and don't actually live with us. For example today, after we had already all went to church together and then went our separate ways (us to race home before feeding frenzy started in the van with the babies!), Aiden looked at me just before dinner and asked "Hey mom? Where's Aunt Jessie and Uncle Hans?" "They went home, honey." "WHY?" It's just so funny to us... a conversation that two months ago we would have never dreamed of taking place. I love that our family is HERE living life with us... it's like we have an extended immediate family now - oh - what's that? You're stopping at Target? Could you grab us some Butt Paste please? Great. See you in 20. Oh, and it'll just about be dinner time so plan on sticking around for a bit. Cool. (insert the Lew's snickers here... hopefully they enjoy dinner whilest holding babies, eh? HA!)


And we certainly could not do it and be as happy as we are without the help of all our family, friends, and certainly our volunteers. So many of my girlfriends kid around that they are going to have quads so that they can have volunteers too - uhhhhh... I hear that. Seriously - we are incredibly blessed to have such an amazing out pouring of support for our family. I feel like a broken record and I am... well... I guess I'm not sorry that I am. We are truly blessed in so many aspects of our lives. With the help of the volunteers I get help with about one feeding 3-5 days/week. During that time I dedicate 100% of myself to the big boys - because they need it and do not get it unless I have help. I also try to sneak in some me time at the gym when I can (if the boys are napping or at school) - this is my stress relief and keeps a mama sane! Sorry Jack. Sorry Jose'. This mama prefers to sweat her way back to level ground. Maybe I'll see you for one or two next Thursday - if you're lucky... nahh... if I'M lucky - ha!

Anyhow - these volunteers come and hold and love our babies. Thank you. Thank you all.

Gobble Gobble.