Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Things Daddies Do...

For those of you who thought I was joking...

That's right, after waiting patiently for 20 years for the right material for a tattoo, I finally decided it was time for an early mid-life crisis and what better subject matter than M&M? Featured above on my rippling, muscular arm is (obviously) a baby boxer squaring off against the trials and tumults of premature birth. I didn't want to have two babies because it would look like they were fighting each other, rather than the incorporeal foe of PDAs, IVHs, bradys, retinopathy, infection, and the multitude other challenges early babies face.

The lone baby pictured is meant to represent both Milo and Madeline. Although the baby looks male (like Milo), the baby has blond hair and a little hemangioma on the forehead (like Maddy). Notice the little "DAD" tattoo on the baby's arm -- that's meant to represent the fact that they are stuck with me ;). I asked Elaine if she wanted me to have "MOM" instead, but she demurred. I like to think that the baby's pudge represents the ample gift of life that Elaine continues to offer by way of breast feeding. The twins names appear above in a font meant to hearken back to boxing posters from the 1930's -- back when boxers had grit. The tag "little fighters" was a very common phrase used by many of the parents and health care staff at Alta Bates to describe the resiliency of the preemies in the ICU.

So there you have it. I tried to pack in as much meaning as I could without it getting too busy. It's big, it's colorful, and it's meant to be: that fact represents the impact the babies and their journey has had on me and Elaine too. (Any bigger and I'd risk running afoul of the Coast Guard tattoo policy.)

Thanks to Jean at Sacred Rose Tattoo in Berkeley (birth place of the twins) who patiently helped me to bring the whole idea to fruition.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Going Visiting...

This week the kids got to help Aunt Anthea celebrate her birthday. It was only the second time the the kids have visited another home, but it's a sign of just how much stronger they are getting. The kids got to hang out with Anthea, John, Lang & Cammy and enjoy a little time away from Alameda. A rare treat!

Anthea & Milo

Lang and Maddy and Anthea and Milo. Anthea and John's boys, Lang and Cammy, were the first non-adults to hold M&M. Cammy was technically first, but I wasn't quick enough with the camera -- sorry Cam.

Back at home, Mom entertains Maddy during a morning play session.

More proof that Milo got Mom's eyes. Unfortunately, the little guy got Dad's ears -- taxi with the doors open.

Milo's Hobbit feet.

Our muscular baby boy. The kid looks like he can bench his sister.

Milo puts the guns away and puts on his PJs. Check out the smile!

Maddy takes an evening bath before bed. She can smile as big as Milo, but she's a little more camera shy.

Uncle Rich pays a visit.

Milo & Maddy hang out in the crib and get ready for the day ahead.

Maddy's favorite activity: sitting on the changing table and staring out the window.

Dad & Maddy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Numero 9

Elaine and I finally got a new computer just in time for the Nine Month mark today. In celebration of this milestone, Milo not only leaned forward to play with his toes for a while, but he managed to get the big one in his mouth. Maddy decided to sleep in late with Mom.

Maddy - 15 Mar 2009

Milo - 15 Mar 2009

If the kids look a little surly in their bear pictures, that's because they are. Napping has become a thing of the past. We're trying our best, but these days the kids only want to sleep for 25-45 minutes maximum during the days. The trade-off is that they're up very little at night -- which seems fair -- but a couple of decent naps each day would probably do the little bugs some good. It might go a long way toward taming the Milo&Maddy-tude they tend to get by early-mid afternoon.

So what does a typical day in the life of M&M look like? For sh!ts and giggles (and posterity) I figured I'd post Milo's chart for the day. This is basically just a list of the basic care tasks for Milo today:

0000 - Wet diaper. Breast fed for 10 minutes and fell asleep.
0400 - Took 140 mls. formula and fell asleep by 0430.
0715 - Woke-up. Wet diaper. Ate 85 mls. formula and poly-vitamins.
0920 - Wet diaper. Ate 80 mls. formula.
0930 - Napped for 40 minutes.
1115 - Ate 100 mls. formula
1230 - Ate 1 tbl. of sweet potatos (see below) and 1 tbl. oatmeal & 50 mls. formula
1345 - Wet/poopy diaper
1530 - Ate 145 mls. formula
1600 - Napped for 50 mins.
1815 - Ate 75 mils.
1920 - Wet diaper.
1935 - 140 mls.
1955 - Asleep.

Normally Milo gets breast milk for about half his feeds. Unfortunately, today I didn't notice we had milk stored in the fridge, so the boy got more formula than usual. That, and we try not to do lots of small feeds. Usually we like Milo to take at least 120-160 mls (4-5.5 ozs.). Maddy's chart would look similar, but nearly all of her feeds are at the breast and there are fewer of them. We obviously can't determine her amounts but she's gettin' plenty! Maddy also tends to sleep through the night -- but not always of late. Like Milo, she's now eating one meal of solid foods each day around lunch time.

We talked a little last time about milestones, and, as always, remember that M&M are not really true 9-monthers. They're corrected age is 5.5 months, and based on that they're on track. By the way, based on a growth chart of progress for premature babies, M&M are doing quite well. You can view the growth charts here. Be sure to scroll down to the charts labeled "VLBW" (Very Low Birth Weight). Based on those charts, Maddy is in the 80th percentile for growth right now, and Milo is in the 50th. That's pretty impressive considering M&M were born earlier and weigh less than anticipate even by the "VLBW" chart. Compared to a term baby of the same age (corrected), Maddy is in the 25th percentile and Milo is in the 5th-10th. It's common for preemies to catch-up around age two, though smaller stature may be life-long.

The babies are much more playful these days, and like most babies, they want to try and fit everything in their mouths. Makes for some good pictures.

Speaking of good pictures... I bought M&M their first rock tee-shirts a couple weeks ago on a business trip to Seattle.

And now for something completely different....

Milo finds it funny.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Long-Awaited Update

As you've all probably noticed, it's taken us a while to update the blog. That's largely due to a massive computer melt down. Our laptop died a sudden and unexpected death, but we were able to at least bring it in to a shop and recover all our data, including about 2 months worth of baby pictures that I hadn't backed up. (Yes, despite all my harping and lecturing to others about the importance of backing up data, I failed to take my own medicine. So, I'm a hypocrite -- imagine that. ;)) We're still without a computer for the time being, so unfortunately the only pictures this week come from my cell phone.

Milo and Madeline both went to the pediatrician this morning for their monthly Synagis shots. Maddy is so chubby that the poor girl has to get her immunizations in two separate shots. She wasn't happy about that, but otherwise she was a peach. Both babies were weighed in today, and, after several weeks of very slow weight gain, they appear to be having another spurt. Milo weighed in at 13 lbs. 11 ozs. and Maddy was 15 lbs. 15 ozs.

Chubby Maddy getting ready for her shots. Check out the gut!

In other news, we learned this week that the twins are lagging behind a bit on their developmental milestones. Specifically, Lisa (our child development specialist) told us that the babies should be sitting with the use of their hands to support their weight, and they should have more awareness of their feet. We were kind of bummed about that. Then the following day, while Milo was sitting on my lap, he put his arms down to support himself and started playing with his feet. So, I guess all's well -- more or less. Maddy is having a little more trouble bending over, but we think it may have to do with her enormous (but wonderful) gut.

A lean Milo proves he can sit just fine.

Apparently there's some controversy about the milestones, and the American Academy of Pediatrics is considering revisions. It has to do with the fact that most babies are reaching the traditional milestones later and later due to the whole Back to Sleep movement. ("[T]wo-thirds of therapists reported increases in motor delays in infants who spend too much time on their backs.") As most of you probably know, letting your baby sleep on her belly is viewed with the same level of ire as rubbing scotch on her gums. Obviously, the "Back to Sleep" movement is a sacred cow these days, but like all great innovations it turns out there's a down side: look here for a fairly in-depth article discussing the darker side of full time back sleeping for babies. I'd really like to examine the SIDS statistics a little closer, but in the meantime, M&M will sleep on their backs like all modern babies (and none of the babies born pre-1992 or so). And of course we're re-doubling our efforts to make sure the babies get the exercise they need to avoid any further delays.

In other news, earlier this week Milo had a rough bout of constipation (ewww!), but the plus side is that it gave us the chance to give the little guy his first taste of fruit. Elaine made him up some pears and he seemed to enjoy them. Maddy is still the better eater of the two - surprise surprise - but at least Milo is now regular. And speaking of eating issues, while the little girl hasn't had much pain from her reflux thanks to the Prevacid, she is suddenly spitting up like some crazed, curdled milk fountain. Poor thing typically gives back about an ounce or so of milk after most feeds. She isn't losing any weight, but our laundry is out of control. We're hoping that her gastroesophageal sphincter will start doing its job and keeping her chow in place. In the meantime, we'll just keep a mop handy.

Join us next time.