Friday, October 2, 2009

On the eve of October 1....

The countdown starts around 6:30 pm on the eve of October 1, every single year for the last 5 years. I'll tell Cole and Bella...."Hey guys, guess what? At this time, 5 years ago, I was laying on the sofa and out of nowhere my water broke and Daddy had to rush me to the hospital!" And every hour, I have to give them the blow by blow details. I just can't help myself....and they've come to expect it. I'll still be doing this every year on the eve of their birthday until my dying day.

Something I rarely do, though, is talk about what happened after they were born so, to be different, this year I thought I'd write a little about that.

Dear Cole,

After an eventful pregnancy, you arrived in to the world 8 weeks earlier than expected. You weighed 4 lbs, 8 oz....so small and delicate. Shortly after my c-section began, the doctor announced, "We have a boy....". I felt tears forming in my eyes, as I waited to hear your very first cry....a sound I had longed to hear for so long.

But there was nothing, except the voice of the doctor giving instructions to the nurses. I asked, "Is he okay? Why isn't he crying?" and the nurse said, "The baby is having trouble breathing. We need to take him to the NICU". I began to cry, so scared that we would lose you. I asked the nurse if I could see you for just 2 seconds. She brought you over to me and I gave you a kiss on your little cheek and then she whisked you off to the NICU. I wouldn't see you again for almost 24 hours.



I was heartbroken that night...missing you and wishing so much that I could hold you. I couldn't remember what you looked like....what color were your eyes? what color was your hair? did you have all 10 fingers and 10 toes? did you have that fresh baby scent that all newborns have?

All the other new mothers had their babies in the room with them and every time I heard one of the babies cry, I cried right along with them...aching for you. Daddy was exhausted when he finally came in to my room. He told me that you were okay and finally breathing on your own. As he handed me a couple polaroids that the nurses had taken of you, I cried tears of relief, knowing that you were going to be fine.

I finally got to see you late the next day, after a long sleepless night. As Daddy wheeled me into the NICU, I had no clue which babies were mine. And I was unprepared for what I saw when he brought me over to where you were....you were in a small incubator with all kinds of wires attached to you and a feeding tube in your nose. All I could hear were the beeps and alarms of the machines that were attached to you. The sound of the alarms frightened me and I would stare at all the numbers on the machine, to make sure you were still breathing. I was scared to touch you, as you laid there so tiny and fragile.



For the most part, you were healthy....but the doctors were concerned about brain bleeds, as well as your gastrointestinal tract, so they did routine ultrasounds on you. Each time you'd have an ultrasound, we'd breathe a sigh of relief when the doctor would tell us that everything seemed to be going well. You had a hard time keeping food down....most of what was fed to you through your feeding tube would end up coming back up. The doctor ordered some meds for you, one of which was Reglan, and that seemed to help somewhat.



Every morning when I would enter the NICU, the staff would greet me with, "Well, do you want the good news or the bad news?" I learned very quickly that, with preemies, for every step forward, there would be two steps back. But soon, we had days where there was nothing but good news and we were so joyful. You were gaining weight like a rock star and you were able to feed from a bottle....no longer needing that horrible feeding tube in your nose.



26 days later, after many ups and downs, you were given the okay to leave the NICU. It was a bittersweet day for us. We were so excited for you to finally be coming home, but the NICU staff had been so invaluable to us....teaching us how to take care of a preemie, what signs to look for which would indicate there was a problem...we would miss their daily advice and suggestions, as well as their encouragement and support.

We got you home and laid you in the pack-n-play and then Daddy and I looked at each other and said, "Now what do we do?" It was like the blind leading the blind. But, with your help, we figured it out.



This is how you spent your first Halloween....



I loved watching you sleep. You looked such a little angel....I would often get teary-eyed, wondering how I managed to get so lucky. When you were awake, you were such a sweet baby who enjoyed being rocked and sung to. While you were being fed, you'd simply stare into my eyes as if I had hung the stars in the sky.



And now 5 years later, here you are....



Not only are you smart and handsome, you are energetic, creative and adorably sweet. You love dinosaurs, sharks, lizards and trains. Not one day goes by that you don't ask if you can have a pet lizard. You have such talent....you love to draw and create things. I often ask you if you're going to be a famous architect someday and you just smile and say, "I don't know....maybe I'll be an artist". Soccer is your thing and it's a thrill to watch you participate in something that you truly have a passion for. My heart melts every time you tell me that you love me to the moon and back.

And even though you're growing bigger every day, you still carry around your blankie and your favorite stuffed bear with you. On some days, you're excited about becoming older but on some days, you struggle with it, just like I do.

You are my everything and I love you so much. I want nothing more than for you to always be happy and for all your wishes and dreams to come true.

Happy 5th Birthday, my little Dude-Z

"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body" - Elizabeth Stone


---------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Bella,

You came into the world at 32 weeks via c-section, weighing a mere 3 lbs, 6 oz, crying as loud as a baby could possibly cry. It was the moment I had been waiting for and I breathed a sigh of relief, while tears of joy streamed down my face. The nurse wrapped you up in a warm blanket immediately and placed a tiny pink cap on your fuzzy head and brought you over to me. She said, "Say hi to your new baby girl". I just stared at you...feeling so blessed.

You were then whisked away to the NICU because, after all, you were born 8 weeks early. I had a hard time sleeping that night, knowing you were just down the hall from me and that someone else, other than me, was holding you, feeding you, rocking you....doing everything for you that I wish I could have been doing.

Daddy brought me a couple pictures of you that the nurses had taken and I laid in my hospital bed with those pictures in my hand, never letting go of them once. Every time I heard a newborn baby crying in another room near mine, it would make my heart ache even more.....worrying that you were wondering where I had gone.

Late the next day, I was able to see you and when Daddy wheeled me up to your incubator, I could not believe how incredibly tiny you were. Your skin was so pink and it just hung on your body so loosely. The nurse told me that you were born too early to have developed a layer of fat under your skin. You were literally skin and bones. We weren't able to take you out of your incubator for too long because you would get cold so quickly.

You loved sucking on a pacifier and Daddy and I were amazed that the pacifier was almost as big as your face (in the picture below, you can see Daddy's finger in the hole in your paci). And for as small as you were, if that paci fell out of your mouth, the entire NICU could hear you screaming.



Once you were able to come out of your incubator for longer periods of time, I was able to do Kangaroo Care with you....skin-to-skin contact. Those were some of my favorite moments with you.



I loved watching Daddy hold you....you seemed to melt right right into him, as if you didn't have a care in the world.



The biggest issue we had with you was apnea and bradycardia. Every time I held you, I always had one eye on the monitors that were keeping track of your heart rate and your oxygen levels and one eye on you. The nurses tried to discouraged me from watching the monitors, saying that I had to learn how to recognize the symptoms simply by looking at you, which frightened me more than anything. They also taught me to flick your feet whenever you stopped breathing. At first, I would often panic when it would happen....but then, within time, it simply became second nature to me. Once you were able to go a good 4 days without an apnea episode, the nurses told me it wouldn't be long before you could go home.

After 26 days of ups and downs, you were finally released from the hospital. Here's a picture of you and your brother in your carseats for the first time....your first car ride.



At that time, we had a Mazda 626 and a convertible Mitsubishi Eclipse. On the drive home, Daddy and I looked at one another and said, "It's time to upgrade to a mini-van". One month later, we sold the Mazda and bought a new mini-van. I drove it with pride because, to me, it was like an official welcome to parenthood.

Now, 5 years later, you're beautiful, smart and so lovable. You are affectionate and kind with a great sense of humor. You are a girl in every sense of the word....playing with your Barbies (and cutting their hair off), polishing your nails, wearing lacy skirts and tights and forever asking when we can go get another pedicure together. At the same time, you can hang with the boys just as much...playing soccer, t-ball and climbing the monkey bars. Most of all, you melt my heart every time you tell me I'm your best friend.



You are my world and I love you so much. I wish nothing more than for you to be happy always and that all your wishes and dreams come true.

I'll end this with our very first family picture, which was taken in the NICU when you were only 9 days old....



Happy 5th birthday, my little Peanut

"Before you were conceived I wanted you
Before you were born I loved you
Before you were here an hour I would die for you
That is the miracle of life" -- Maureen Hawkins





MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected

63 comments:

Jennifer said...

Happy Birthday to Bella and Cole! Thanks for sharing their birth story with us. Whew! That is some kind of journey! But look at your beautiful kiddos! :-)

shortmama said...

Breaks my heart to see them so tiny! Glad they were healthy! Happy birthday to your babies!

KK said...

Happy Birthday! What a fabulous. They will love having these details always! (well maybe not in their teen years, but later on...) :)

Carly said...

That was the sweetest post. Happy Birthday Cole and Bella!!!!

BoufMom9 said...

This was just beautiful Helene!
happy 5th Birthday to Cole & Bella!

I have to say, I was sitting here crying reading this... my own twins will be 3 in just 4 days and i have been doing a lot of reflecting back on my pregnancy (which was awful) and my delivery (which was great).
What a great tribute to your "babies" birth :)

Eva Gallant said...

what a scary but joyful experience!

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Happy Birthday!

Kelly said...

Happy birthday Cole and Bella! K- Helene, now Ive got my waterworks on and I can't turn them off! Beautiful post.

.::Tuttie::. said...

oh no! the waterworks got me! Happy bday Bella & Cole!

MommiesTimeOutToday said...

Such beautiful stories! I'm crying! I'm 33 years old and up till the day I moved out my mother would come into my room on my birthday and tell me the story of the day I was born. In my rebellious teenage years I use to get annoyed then as I got older I looked forward to hearing it. Now that I'm married and out of my parents house she calls me in the morning on my birthday to tell it. Don't stop telling them the story, they'll appreciate it later and look forward to hearing them.

Christina said...

Happy Birthday Bella and Cole!! I hope you guys know how much your Mommy loves you! :)
Have a great day with them today H! You deserve it!

Mommy24cs said...

Beautiful post Helene! You have me teary eyed. Birth stories always get me.

Happy Birthday to Cole and Bella :o) Wishing them a fun and happy day!


Carson saw the picture of Cole holding the zucchini and he said "That's a big pickle!" LOL

Nezzy said...

Happy, happy birthday Bella and Cole. A lovely tribute to your children that touched my heart.

Ya'll survived what no mama should ever go through. We spent almost a year in intensive care with our baby girl. Mother of baby Ian. :o)

Have a super day celebrating birthdays and enjoying your blessings!!!

Steph said...

Happy Birthday to Bella and Cole! Thank you for sharing your touching story. Have a wonderful day!

Buckeroomama said...

Happy, happy birthday to Bella and Cole! *Hugs* What a beautiful post, Helene.

(Psst, how did the cake turn out?)

Have a wonderful weekend!

MamaHen Em said...

Happy birthday do your now so little babies :) This literally brought tears to my eyes. What a miracle to have your little ones growing and celebrating a birthday every year!

Sadia said...

That was lovely. I started writing my own NICU post a year ago, and the emotions were too raw, even two years after Mel and Jess came home from the hospital.

I still can't decide whether it would have been helpful or terrifying to have researched more about the preemie and NICU experience before we went through it.

Happy Birthday Cole and Bella!

Lani said...

Oh Helene, you have made me cry again. What a beautiful post, and when they grow up and have kids of their own, I am sure they will tear up a little too when they read it:)

Lani said...

Oh Helene, you have made me cry again. What a beautiful post, and when they grow up and have kids of their own, I am sure they will tear up a little too when they read it:)

Morgan said...

What beautiful pictures Helene! Did the hospital give you guys those hats? Much cooler than the ones they hand out at ours.

On the days of my babies births, I do the same thing. Start thinking hour by hour what was going on that very moment years ago.

Happy Birthday Bella and Cole!

Liz @ Sugarplum Creations said...

Awwww, Happy Birthday sweet Bella and Cole! This "after the birth" story brings tears to my eyes. I know the fear that comes when they whisk your brand new little one off to NICU. You are one tough mama! You know, I used to think that birthdays were most special for the one having them, but after I became a mom, I realized that my children's birthdays are more special to me! :)

Kristina P. said...

What a sweet post! And what little miracles they are.

2SetsOfTwins4Me said...

Awww Happy Birthday Bella and Cole!!!!
Your story brings back so many memories, more so for my older boys that were born at 29 weeks.

Lauren From Texas said...

OMG so cool!! Love this :)

Alicia said...

Wow, just amazing, Helene!

Happy Birthday to your beautiful kiddos!!!!!

FranticMommy said...

happy birthday Bella and Cole! What a gvreat story! Both my babies were preemies too (not twins). Jake was 5 lb 13 oz, and Sara was 4 lbs and 6 oz. Looking at your pictures reminded me of those days of teeny tiny babies.
I miss those days.
Great post Mommy!

Amy said...

Happy Birthday to Bella and Cole. What a wonderful story to share with them as they grow older. I was in tears through most of it. I guess when you are a Mom everything touches your heart. Or a person who really cares about children which I do.

Mighty M said...

Happy Birthday, Bella and Cole! Your mom wrote a beautiful post for you that you will really enjoy reading when you get a little older! Have a wonderful day!

MommyAmy said...

Such an awesome birthday post! Sounds pretty similar to our NICU experience.

freckletree. said...

Wow-- thanks so much for sharing. You have a beautiful way of remembering and expressing those tough times.

I couldn't help but cringe when reading about you having to flick Bella's foot-- being a new Mom to wee twins is scary enough. That must've been so terrifying.

Congrats on 5 years-- to all of you! I know what each day survived means with twins!

Mrs. Call Me Crazy said...

Oh,it made me cry. So sweet of you to write that to them.

Joy said...

Happy birthday Cole and Bella! They will love reading this when they get older.

p.s. Thanks for stopping by my blog when I was SITS featured blogger!

Dixiemom7 said...

What a sweet post. What a gift for them. What a blessing each child is, with their own distinct story. Stopped by from Blog for a Cure party.Glad I did! I'm a follower now.

newlyweds said...

Happy Birthday Bella and Cole, 5 years, wow!! Happy to you also mommy, you've survived 5 years, ha ha ha!!!

Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

What an interesting post! Thanks for sharing about this. It must have been extremely scary for you at the time, but it's so great to see how your babies have grown and are fine now. So happy for you!

Jen said...

Such a beautiful story.
Happy 5th Birthday Cole and Bella.

kyslp said...

Oh my goodness! Those pictures make my uterus ache. How sweet! Happy Birthday to your special little people!

blueviolet said...

Happy Birthday to your two 5 year old precious gifts!

Heather Kephart said...

Well dang it if you aren't going to make me cry! Happy 5th Birthday Cole and Bella! xo

heather@it'stwinsanity said...

Happy Birthday Cole & Bella!

Theta Mom said...

Happy Birthday to your twins! I can't believe how teeny tiny they were. They will enjoy reading this and really appreciate it someday. Beautiful post Helene!

Jenny said...

Happy Birthday to Cole and Bella!

What wonderful stories to have for them to read later.

Joy said...

wow! you brought me to tears! This was very touching. I love that you wrote them separate letters. They will appreciate that someday. Precious!

Cathie said...

Happy Birthdy Bella and Cole. Those letters brought tears to my eyes.

S Club Mama said...

Oh my goodness! So tiny but so precious. I don't think I realized you had 2 sets of twins until about 10 seconds ago. That's amazing. Babies are always miraculous but some (like yours) more than others. :) Happy birthday babies! :)

And thank you for stopping by. Your comments always make me smile.

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

What a special birthday wish to Cole and to Bella.

Being a twin myself, it touches me to read about other twins and watching them grow up healthy and happy. My sis and I were preemies as well and I weighed 3.5 and my sis was 4.6. My mom still tells us about our birth although she didn't take pictures of us when we were newborns because we were "scrawny". I guess back then, it wasn't cool or something...either way, I wish she had.

Hope they have had a wonderful birthday and feel very special being 5.

Mary said...

GAH, HELENE, you made me tear up, dammit! Thanks, as usual, for sharing your stories. I was honored to have been there for their birthdays this year, and the year before. Heck, I am honored to call you my friend. We heart you guys all so much! Your kids are just all the best, and my kids just adore them. ~me

Nancy@ifevolutionworks.com said...

This is a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing the stories, the letters and the pictures! All of it gave me a great big smile.

Your children are lovely, really!

Mimi and Tilly said...

This post is so beautiful. You made me smile and go aww on a Sunday. Sending smiles.

Mrsbear said...

Late Happy Birthday to your gorgeous pair. Looking at them now who would ever think they'd been so tiny and fragile. Hope you had a great celebration.

Meg said...

Such beautiful letters! This is something I'd love to do when I have my own someday. I hope that Cole & Bella had wonderful birthdays!

Stopping by from SITS.

Queenie Jeannie said...

Beautiful, beautiful post!!

yonca said...

Very sweeet post Helene. Late happy birthday to Bella and Cole!
You're kids are beautiful. Hugs!!!

The Mother said...

Yes, it's a miracle. I never get over that.

AudreyO said...

I can not believe how tiny they were. Hope they've had the happiest of birthdays!!

Karen said...

Those weeks must have been so scary for you!

But I bet when you look at those pictures today, you know it was all worth it. Your kids are just beautiful!

The High Family said...

oh the tears! this was beautiful Helene. Happy 5th Birthday, Cole & Bella!

GAMZu said...

Happy Birthday!!!

The picture of them both side by side in the sleep positioners- they both look just like they look today! They look so much like themselves there.

Kim said...

What a precious post! Keep it handy for days when you feel like running away and never coming back ; )

The Lane Family said...

I loved this post. It is always amazing to me to see babies so small grow so quickly. I think it reminds you that all of the tears and challenges to have them was so worth it.

Jenny said...

First time on your blog...I love your sight and what a beautiful story :)So tiny, so sweet, what a blessing!!

Marlene said...

First time on your blog, birth stories are my favorite, I love how you tell the kids the story every year. I do the same thing. While eating dinner on their birthdays, I always tell them the last thing I ate before they were born, they love it, first born daughter it was Matzo Ball Soup that my sister made for me, second son, it was Tacos, and save the best for last that's what I always tell my 3rd son, my baby who's 13 now, along with the youngest, the baby of the family always gets spoiled, they get more than the other kids, oh how he loved to hear that! Sugar Cookies, my girlfriend makes the best sugar cookies in the world and I ate quite a few before he was born, he says that's why he's so sweet because of the sugar cookies. We also make sugar cookies together.

Beth said...

Just found your blog. The similarities in experiences, emotions, etc. are eerie! Our b/g twins (Josiah & Lilly) were born 10 weeks early. It was a long NICU experience. We found out two weeks ago that we're pregnant again (surprise!) and will find out next week if it's twins or a singleton. Needless to say, I'm nervous. Reading this post about Bella and Cole's birthday put tears in my eyes. I shared many of your thoughts on that c-section table...

Looking forward to following your journey!
Our own blog is at www.bethandsteve2007.com

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr



 
Blog Design by Likely Lola