Monday, November 30, 2009

A Very Thankful Thanksgiving

Let me just start off by saying I love Thanksgiving. Yes, I love my Mom's stuffing and pie, but there is so much more to it than that. I love all holidays, but often there is so much stress and craziness beforehand (buying gifts, getting up decorations...) that you end up wondering if it is worth it. Not Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is just about gathering around family and loved ones and being thankful for your blessings. As we have been abundantly blessed, this always ends up being an emotional day for me. I know that I do not deserve the amazing family and wonderful life with which I have been blessed, but I do thank God for them every day.
Fortunately, my husband's family celebrates Thanksgiving the weekend before (see earlier post), so we are free to spend all day Thanksgiving Day with my family. For the last two years (since having the quads), we have hosted my family for Thanksgiving. This is no small undertaking. I am the fifth of eight children. At this point we are up to 16 adults and 11 children. This is only my parents, my siblings, their spouses and children. While it is some work cleaning and getting ready to have everyone over, it is actually easier than dragging the kids over to someone else's house and bringing high chairs, and all the other accessories that come with four 1 yr olds. While I technically host, I am not much of a cook. My Mother still handles most of the food, then my siblings and I fill in all of the side dishes. In preparation for the big day, I made sure that the camera battery was charged (a step I almost always forget, so I was particularly proud of myself) and left the camera on the kitchen counter figuring that was where most of the action would be. That afternoon, I went to take a picture of my sister Cathy and couldn't find the camera. I looked everywhere. I knew that I had left it out, but it was gone. For some reason, I never thought to ask Rod (you know, the only other adult that lives in my house) if he knew where it was and I just gave up. Well, that morning Rod had seen the camera sitting on the counter and thought it might get hurt in the crazy rush of cooking, so he put it up in the office. He was trying to be helpful. So I have no pictures of the day. Oh well.
The big moment of the day was when my youngest sister Tessa, 23 in grad school, and her boyfriend of 3 yrs, Ray, showed up. They announced they were engaged! He had proposed the weekend before. My Father knew it was coming because as a proper gentleman, Ray had asked his blessing, but Daddy didn't know when. Everyone has gotten to know and really likes Ray. We are all so excited for him to officially become a part of our family. I was amazed at how emotional I became over this. Tessa is our baby. I remember her being born. I just can't believe that she is all grown up and getting married. I did mention possible flower girls and ring bearers. She is Paige's Godmother... May God bless Tessa an Ray and give them a lifetime of happiness together.
Another year and so very very much to be thankful for. Thank you God for our many blessings.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Just some pics...

Everyday it's something new. I left four babies playing happily in the family room one morning to take a 2 minute potty break. I return to find Little Miss Izzie standing on the side table. Her sister Paige is trying to join her. Only a matter of time until I find all 4 standing on the tables.
























The babies have discovered Will's old tool bench and love playing with all of the tools, but their favorite part is the safety goggles. Mommy had to adjust them so they will stay on their little peanut heads, but they are the best toy around!












We recently got a new climby toy. All of the kids love it. Mommy has a love/hate relationship with it. Anything that keeps the kids busy, active and happy, I'm all for. I just don't understand why there have to be holes in the side. Holes my kids love to stick their heads through and look around. I fear it is only a matter of time until one takes a header right out. Drew just loves to stand on the platform and survey his kingdom.

The Lachmann Thanksgiving

My husband's family has celebrated Thanksgiving the weekend before Thanksgiving for several years now. We love this! First of all, because I'm never going to complain about two Thanksgiving dinners. Also, any married couple knows the difficulty of the holidays. You either don't see one family at all or you rush around trying to fit both in. This makes our holiday much more relaxed. We get to spend all day with each family!!


Paige hanging out in the kitchen with Grandma and Aunt Laura.













As usual, Drew is just chilling.

















Paige stopped by to visit Meemaw.












Julia with Aunt Connie and my nephew Dan.













Izzie spent most of the time with Mommy. She was feeling a little clingy. This is her running back to me.














Drew gets a cuddle from Aunt Myra.













Paige visits with Gracie and Frankie.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Clean Bill of Health for Miss Izzie!!!!

I don't think that I've discussed Izzie's kidney issues yet. At an ultrasound around 26 weeks (I had so many I can't remember the exact date...), the ultrasound tech noticed something unusual on Baby A (Izzie)'s right kidney. She called in the doctor (Dr. Lambers, one of my favorites who ended up performing our c-section) to have a look at it. The tech kept referring to it as "the mass on her kidney." I finally just had to speak up and say, "the word 'mass' is really freaking me out. Can we call it something else?" Dr. Lambers looked at it from many different angles and checked the blood flow through it then said that it appeared to be additional kidney tissue. She couldn't see anything that may be harmful to Izzie, so we would just keep an eye on it and measure it along with all of her other organs at each of the babies' growth scans. Once she was out, we would have a pediatric urologist look at it.
All of the babies were born healthy on a Monday morning. That Friday, Izzie had another ultrasound done. She had an extra right kidney. Well, more specifically, a partial kidney. I joke that I was so busy making body parts, I just didn't know when to stop! One week after being discharged, I had to take Izzie to Cincinnati Children's Hospital for more testing to see exactly what we were dealing with. I still remember that first appointment. My tiny 3 wk old preemie who had finally reached 4 lbs had to have an ultrasound (non-invasive-- no big deal), a VCUG and a dye test to see the function in each of her kidneys. These last two tests are much more invasive and my poor little sweetie hated them. Her Mommy hated them just as much. They had to run catheters, but her itty bitty urethra was so small, none of the catheters were small enough. They had to use the smallest feeding tube available. Anyway, with all of this testing, they discovered that the additional kidney had function, but the ureter did not connect to the bladder like a normal kidney. Instead, it connected directly below the bladder to her urethra. Long story short (too late), she would have normal function, but we would never be able to potty train her. She would be able to feel a full bladder and empty it, but always have a trickle.
The game plan was to monitor it with regular ultrasound, then remove it between 9-12 mos of age. The surgeon, (Dr. Defoor who we love) thought this was the best age. We ended up having the surgery at exactly 9 mos old, on June 8th. Dr. Defoor removed the kidney and cleaned up her good right kidney (they were attached.) The surgery took about 3 hours and it was the longest 3 hours of my life. Thank God, he came out and gave a great report. He was able to get in and out with no complications and everything looked perfect!
Izzie was an absolute champ! She spent most of that evening sleeping or awake and groggy. At one point she woke and acted hungry. The nurse brought me a bottle, but said she probably wouldn't each much. I had to send the nurse out for more formula. Twice!!!! She said that was definitely a good sign. We spent 2 days in the hospital and she was released on June 10th- my Dad's birthday. We came home and had a big dinner with my whole family to celebrate Izzie's homecoming and Gpa's birthday. It was a wonderful night!! I got to see my parents and siblings and nieces and nephews, be with all of my children and sleep in my bed instead of a hospital pull-out sofa.
We had follow-up 6 wks later, then this past week we had to repeat all of the tests. Izzie passed with flying colors!!!! Dr. Defoor wants her to have an ultrasound each year until she is 5. As long as her right kidney continues to grow proportionately to her left and we don't see anything unusual, she is golden!
This is such a weight off of my mind. We have been fortunate that at no point along the way did Izzie act 'sick', but still knowing that something wasn't right with my little girl was horrible. I was always assured that worst case scenario, you can lead a very normal life with 1 kidney, but I'm grateful that it didn't come to that. Once again, God has held my children in his hand. We are so blessed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Will Fight for Preemies!!!!- Even if it's a Day Late

Yeah, I know. A day late and a dollar short. Well, that's just the story of my life right now. I didn't get to publish a post yesterday, but I still want to help get the word out about the March of Dimes and all of the great work they do for premature babies. The story of our babies seemed incredibly dramatic at the time, but I now realize that we were unbelievably lucky. I learned a lot watching other families go through the NICU experience.
Any quadruplet pregnancy is high risk. At my first appointment with my high risk OB/Gyn I was told that we would try to keep them in as long as possible, but that my babies would be born premature. We were blessed with a very uneventful pregnancy and were able to make it to my goal of 34 weeks. My babies were delivered on Monday, September 8, 2008 at 34 weeks 2 days gestation.
All four babies looked great at delivery. They scored well on their Apgars, but since they were preemies, they were examined, swaddled, held by Dad, kissed by Mom and whisked away to the NICU. We were incredibly fortunate. Paige was our baby D and she was the only one who required special care. She was put on C-Pap overnight. None of the other babies needed any oxygen or anything. The next morning, my Mom and I went down to visit the babies. Everyone got a good report except Paige. She had a rough night. They asked us not to touch her and let her try to rest and relax. I sat with her and whispered to her for a little bit, then went and visited the others. After I went back to my room to rest, I got a phone call. Paige had taken a turn for the worse and they had to intubate her. This was the worst moment of their NICU stay. I rushed down to be with her, but I really couldn't touch her now. She had a tube coming out of her throat connecting her to this horrible, loud machine. Through the grace of God, Paige fought hard. She was able to be extubated on Friday. This was also the day I left the hospital and I was so glad that I was able to see her beautiful face without tubes and things stuck to it before leaving.
The next day Paige showed a slight jaundice, so they had to put her under lights for 1 day. When they do this, the baby wears these silly looking glasses to protect their eyes. When I came in the next day to visit, they gave me her "sunglasses." This was my breaking point. The NICU nurses are wonderful and do a tremendous job of keeping mementos for the parents, but as I sat there holding those tiny sunglasses, I just sobbed. By this point, thankfully, all of my babies were doing quite well and simply had to master eating before they could come home. But I realized that not all of the babies in the nursery would be going home to their parents. Ever. Years from now, we'll go through the kids' baby boxes and laugh about Paige's funny first sunglasses, but somewhere, there is a Mother sleeping with those because they are all that she has from her baby. I was so tremendously humbled to be blessed to bring home 4 healthy babies when there are parents praying over the isolette of their one baby they will never get to bring home.
We were fortunate to be near a wonderful NICU, but that is not enough. We need to prevent these children from being born premature in the first place! March of Dimes does wonderful work to prevent prematurity and treat it when it happens. These tiny little miracles need us to fight for them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Pretty Good Day, Even with a Terrible Start

Sunday began on a horrible note. A piercing, screeching note. It was 6:43 a.m. Everyone was sleeping peacefully, when our carbon monoxide detector went off. Rod jumped out of bed and checked the detector. It was flashing GAS. So we rushed around, getting the kiddos out of bed and loaded into the van along with our dog Stella. I grabbed the diaper bag and we were off. But where are you supposed to go when it is not even 7:00 in the morning and your entire family is still in their pajamas? That's right- Mom and Dad. We called my in-laws and let them know that we were on our way. They only live about a mile away, so we were there in no time. When we got there, we hurried around trying to baby-proof as best we could. The babies were excited to have different surroundings and had a blast exploring. My husband's grandparents, Meemaw and Peepaw, live with his parents. Meemaw has Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. She has good days and bad days. I know that we won't have her with us for too much longer, so I try to encourage Will and the babies to interact with her and enjoy her while they can. I have some pictures of each of them with her that I have already put in their baby boxes to treasure one day. Meemaw and Peepaw woke up to discover that the house had been taken over. All five kids were running around and yelling- my in-laws have a big open-plan home so the kids love how their voices echo when they yell. Stella (a 40 lb boxer/lab mix) was chasing around my in-laws shitzus, Frankie and Gracie. I hoped that the noise wouldn't disturb Meemaw too much, but she seemed to love it. She was smiling and laughing. I was happy that the babies walked right up to her and Julia even climbed into her lap. I made sure to stay close by since Meemaw isn't too steady and Julia is squirmy, but we had no trouble at all. Meemaw kept murmuring, "they are all just so pretty..." Obviously, this wasn't a planned outing so I didn't have my camera, but I should have borrowed Jim and Judy's so I could have taken some pictures. I am so glad that we got to be there for a good day.
Well, I did call the utility company when we got there, and was told a technician would come to the house to check everything out. I was to meet him there in an hour. We got started making a big breakfast. My husband's sister lives right behind my in-laws, so we called over there to invite them to breakfast. Laura, her husband Ed, and their four kids all came by. It was loud and crowded, but nice. Everyone ate eggs, pancakes, sausage, bacon and cereal. After a bit I went back and sat in the van outside of the house waiting for the technician to arrive. He showed up and was a very friendly man. He asked where all of the gas appliances are, then went in by himself to check things out. After only 5 or 10 minutes, he called me in. Everything was fine. He said that the highest reading he ever got was 0.1. He said that is nothing, dangerous levels are in the 100s.He explained that most likely it was a "gas belch" (his words.) That the furnace kicked on, but the igniter took a second to kick in and a small cloud of gas went through the vents and set off the detector, but never put us in any danger. He did say that we did the right thing by getting everyone out, but fortunately, nothing was wrong and we could come home whenever.
I went back and told everyone that the house was not going to explode. We finished up breakfast and cleaned up. Everyone else was getting ready for mass, but we decided that since none of us had showered, or even brushed our teeth yet, we were just going to skip mass this week. We hung out for a little longer, then went home. When we got home, everyone went to bed and the whole family took a nice, much needed nap. When we woke up, it was time for the Bengals game, so we all hung out in the family room cheering on the orange and black! The Bengals won, so this kept the Who Dey Crew happy!

















Izzie roots for the Bengals!


















Julia says. "Who Dey!"




























Paige is the Bengals #1 fan!



After the game, I went to the grocery store, came home and made dinner. Then it was baths and bed for all 5 of the kiddos. Once they were in bed, I went out for some drinks and girl talk with a few neighbors.
An unplanned, but lovely family breakfast, our house didn't explode, a Bengals win and a night out with the girls. What more could I ask for? Especially considering how badly the day began. In the time that we have known about and had the babies, we have learned many lessons, but I think that the main thing they have taught me is to roll with it. I have always been pretty type 'A' and wanted to control everything. Well, guess what? I can't. These kids have shown me that I don't need to control everything, just how I react to it. If I get tense and upset, things almost always end badly, but today was a perfect example of just taking things as they come and even an awful morning can turn into a really good day.
"Be still and know that I am God."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pop Quiz! Which Quad Got the First Black Eye?

Yep, it happened. With my wild children running, jumping and climbing, it was only a matter of time until someone got a shiner. Yesterday afternoon, the kiddos were playing in the family room- I was even right in the room with them. Since having children, I have learned why every parenting horror story starts with, "I only took my eyes off of them for 1 second!" In that one second I turned my head, the fearless leader attempted to climb the entertainment center. When she ran out of good spots to grab, she grabbed Will's Leapfrog keyboard we keep high on the TV. It of course tumbled down and whacked her right below the right eye. It immediately swelled up, but I didn't take a picture yesterday. I feared it would look even worse the next day, but it actually looks a little better today. Less swollen and the bruising hasn't gotten any worse yet. Well, here she is, proudly displaying the first quad black eye...
























Miss Izzie!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween!!!!!

Well, Saturday was Halloween and we had a great time. My sister-in-law Laura came over with her 4 kids to go trick or treating. My in laws came over and so did my Dad (my Mom went over to my sister's), so we left the Grandparents at home to give out candy and we hit the road with the kiddos. Everyone had a nice evening. The babies were supposed to eat dinner before we went out. There was so much excitement going on, however, that not much was actually eaten.




Izzie was very distracted.















Julia loved seeing everyone in their costumes!













Drew just wanted to get going!!!














Paige gives Halloween a thumbs up!














Mommy's little devils are dressed, loaded and ready to go with their cousin Ana.















Will and Ana are ready to get going















Daniel was a ninja






















Evan was a pirate



















Taylor was Sandy from Grease












So naturally her boyfriend Sam was Danny.






We had so much fun. Obviously the babies aren't big enough to have a clue what's going on, but they loved seeing everyone walking around dressed in funny costumes. I found myself wondering if they would be willing to stay in the stroller next year. I can't look that far ahead. We have wonderful neighbors who were all so excited to see all of the kids. Halloween is a great holiday because it is just about fun. It is low stress, just dress up, walk around, get candy and have fun!