Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What the &%$# is that thing on Maddy's head?

By now most of you have seen what I like to refer to as the cherry on top of our Maddy sundae. What is it? It's called a hemangioma. Hemangiomas occur in about 1 in 10 Caucasian births, and are three times more common in females. I've also read that premature babies have a higher incidence of these little buggers. Maddy's hemangioma is the superficial variety, which is often referred to as a "strawberry hemangioma." It doesn't cause her any pain, it doesn't interfere with her development, and I'm pretty confident she doesn't even know it's there. Maddy's strawberry appears to be at the peak of its growth cycle, more or less, and we know this because its got a pinkish-grey tint (and because it doesn't seem to be getting any bigger). You'll notice in some of the links above that hemangiomas can get big and gruesome, but that's a pretty unlikely scenario for Maddy. Her hair will be growing in pretty soon and will cover it up -- it will probably be gone by time she's 2 or 3. It's rare to treat a superficial hemangioma unless it interferes with vision or causes some other problem. Given how much the babies have been through, we're not inclined to do much more than let it run its course and resolve on its own.

I suppose I could photoshop all of Maddy's pictures to get rid of the hemangioma, but that wouldn't be quite authentic. It's part of the whole great package. That said, we'll probably stick a hat on her -- not because we care so much -- but in order to avoid some the inevitable rude questions. As luck would have it, Maddy can be pretty finicky about wearing hats. Actually, Maddy can be pretty finicky period. On the flip side, I thought about putting it to good use on Halloween by drawing a little eyeball around it and making it the pupil. Elaine wasn't so hip on that idea and I guess it's not a good idea to draw on a baby with a Sharpie. Maybe next year...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lookin' Pretty Good!

Today we headed to the Regional Center of the East Bay for the latest in a long series of assessments and medical visits for the kids. I think we average about one of these visits a week these days, and, on the plus side, it means getting the chance to read selections from the stack of old People magazines that always populate doctors' waiting rooms. Today was no different and we got the chance to catch up on all the happenings with Madonna and Guy Ritchie before getting called in. Can you believe Madonna is 50? Anyway...

The good news is that M&M are developmentally on target so far. They're able to track objects with their eyes, bring their hands together, comfort themselves (somewhat), lift their heads and upper bodies, and a bunch of other things that "normal" babies their age do. They've even got a few bonus features. For example, the kids have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to roll from their belly to their back -- something that Milo just started doing today, but Maddy's been doing for a while. Milo has the added bonus of liking to stick his big tongue out a lot --- like all the time. Problem? Apparently not yet. I guess Gene Simmons made an entire career of having a long tongue so maybe Milo can front a Kiss cover band one day.

Maddy was on her best behavior during the assessment. She slept mostly, then woke up and looked around and smirked. Unfortunately this was a rare moment of calm for her. Over the last week, she seems to have fallen back into a lot of the behaviors we associated with reflux. We thought the medicine cleared things up, but more adjustments may be in order. That will probably come at the next doctors visit which is (surprise!) early next week. Hopefully we'll get her back on track soon, because right now the poor girl seems to only have a few moods: hungry, asleep, and frantic crying while stiffening her body completely. We still think it's reflux, but bad gas can't be ruled out. Every so often the pixie wakes up, lifts both her legs, and cuts a huge fart. It would be pretty funny if it didn't make her cry.

On the bright side, Maddy got weighed on Monday and she has broken the 10 lb mark! We suspect that Milo is about the same or maybe a touch more, but we'll find out when he gets weighed next week. To hear them pass gas, you'd guess they weighed ten times that amount.

A quick shout out to all the great folks at Alta Bates for helping the kids to become so big and healthy. Thanks all so much! We're hoping to come by for a visit some time soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

5 Months

Mom here, taking over from Dad on a posting. Both kids are currently napping, and I saw my opportunity. My plan when I got to do a blog post was to put up as many pix of Rob in his boxers, bathrobe, and socks as he's put on of me in my glasses and jammies, but the man seems to avoid the camera at every opportune moment. However, kind readers, I am currently showered, wearing my contacts, and just ate lunch, so look out world.

Mom slightly less bleary-eyed with Milo.

It's been a good couple of days here at Stiles central. The babies went in for their monthly Synagis shot on Friday and were weighed for dosing. Wouldn't you know it the little buggers gained almost half a pound this week. Both weighed in at 9lbs, 12 oz. That means they should hit the double digit pound mark this week - the big 1-0. Go babies, go!

Maddy looking coy during tummy time.

Blue-eyed girl.

Mom and Dad have also been treated to lengthy sleeps the past two nights, culminating last night in a full 8 hours of sleep for the first time since October 4 when Maddy came home. We had one stint of about 5 hours, and another stint of 2.5-3 hours after a 4 am feed. We also managed to cook and eat a simple dinner last night AND watch an episode of 6 Feet Under on DVD. Our cup runneth over. It probably won't last, but as long as we get a little treat like that once in a while, I think we'll make it.

Milo well-rested and sporting his Red Sox colors (thanks Jeff and Michelle!). Milo knows all about the Sox losing to the D-Rays, but daddy didn't raise no fair-weather fan.

Tomorrow, Milo goes for another eye exam related to his retinopathy. These are never fun, as it's a pretty tough exam which basically involves holding Milo down while the doctor jabs a steel instrument in his eye. Mom is not looking forward to it -- let the screaming of bloody murder begin. Both babies also go in on Friday to the Regional Center of the East Bay to have an initial developmental assessment. The Regional Center assists families in getting services for any physical or developmental disabilities or delays the babies may have as a result of being premature. As you may remember, both babies are at higher risk for cerebal palsy and some cognitive issues because they were born so early. Based on what we've read, both babies seem to be on target for their developmental corrected age (7 weeks), so we're hopeful all will continue to go well.

And in closing, Saturday was Maddy and Milo's 5 month birthday based on their calendar birth date. As usual, Dad took some photos of the babies with their bear and ducky for size comparison. You can see how they've grown by looking at posts on or around the 15th of the month over the past several months. You'll be glad to see that both babies are now (finally!) substantially larger than Mr. Bear!

Milo, Mr. Bear, Maddy & Mr. Duck. Maddy's pants are a bit high, and she appears to be sporting a little J in the T.

Maddy at 5 months.

Milo at 5 months.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hey Kid, You Owe Me a Quarter...

As we all know it's a mother and father's job to saddle their children with plenty guilt, and to remind them of all the expense and heartache their poor parents suffered for their benefit. With that in mind, I've taken to running a mental tally of all the wasted diapers that the wonder twins have cost us. By "wasted," I'm referring to the all times I've placed a fresh diaper under the babies during a change only to have them hose the thing before it's even completely on -- along with me and the changing table cover too. Each time it happens, I mumble aloud that they owe me a quarter. I'm not good with numbers, but I think the running tally is something like $5,842.75 at this point -- but I could be off slightly.

Mom in the middle of a three-diaper blowout courtesy of our lovely little girl. This one nuked her outfit and the changing table cover too.

But as Elaine and I well know, that's all part of the adventure, and it just makes more room for milk. (Better out than in, right?) And besides, they're cute little buggers even if their dirty diapers are something straight out of Hell. Luckily, solid foods are a ways off.

Mom cradles the babies on her legs during a tummy time break.

This week brought some more good news on growth. The babies are both over 9 lbs now and Maddy has again regained the lead. Madeline weighed in at 9 lbs 5 ozs and Milo weighed in at 9 lbs 4 ozs. Who will be the first to make it to 10 lbs? Now that they're not being weighed each day it will be tough to tell. Both babies are eating very well these days and have already outgrown most of their newborn clothes.

Grandpa holds Madeline for the first time. Milo lies behind in the crib.

The kids got a nice treat this week when they met grandpa Stiles for the first time. The babies sent their regards by farting continuously throughout his visit. They clearly know their audience. Grandpa will be staying throughout the week. We've been trying to get the babies and the old man out for walks and some sightseeing. Look for more pics to come.

A bigger, chubbier Milo.

Milo got his referral for hernia surgery this week, and it looks like he'll head to Children's Hospital in Oakland in mid-December to fix the hernia once and for all. That'll be nice.

Milo hangs out with Dad at dinner.

There's really no elegant way to eat with a baby attached to you. You can either put a napkin on the kid's head, or hold the plate under your mouth (see above). Otherwise, you risk dropping food on his head -- which just seems kinda' shabby.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

First Halloween

Milo the cow and Maddy the frog with Halloween-appropriate pumpkin hats.

It was low-key Halloween for M&M. The duo was hoping to make it to the party in the Castro, but they settled for hanging out with Mom and Dad at home in their sleepers. Then, in a fit of jealousy over not getting to wear the cow outfit, Maddy soiled herself and we were forced to change her back in to regular attire.

In other news, Elaine and I have nearly been driven to the drink to cope with life with twins. Just kidding of course, but as I've already mentioned (repeatedly) it's definitely a challenge! I finally broke down and bought a dishwasher today to try and spare us some time, and we've even decided to hire someone to come in and help. I won't make any of my standard jokes about saving a few bucks by hiring one of those guys out in front of the Home Depot.

Above: Elaine rests with the twins. They are both pushing 9 pounds these days, and Milo may be a few ounces over. Imagine if they had gone to term and been born in September? This picture gives an idea of how large Elaine might have been.

In other news, Maddy's reflux seems to have improved a lot over the last week thanks to the miracle of pediatric Zantac. She still gets fussy, but that's probably more personality than pain. Unfortunately, Milo seems to be showing some of the same symptoms lately. Frequently, reflux problems resolve within the first four months of a baby's corrected age, but it can linger up to a year or more. Here's hoping that doesn't happen. Milo was also referred for hernia surgery yesterday, and he'll likely get that out of the way in the next couple weeks.