8.25.2012

{Home Decor} Master Bedroom Makeover!

I thought I'd take a momentary break from the usual baby-centric posts and update y'all on a little house project I'd been dying to complete. Needless to say, with four newborn kiddos in the house, projects tend to a take really-far-in-the-back-row seat to other priorities that now form our days. Ha.

But the few moments that we get to sleep—day or night—I wanted to enjoy our time in our master bedroom and the all-brown decor wasn't quite cutting it for me anymore. I love Texas-themed stuff and I also love beachy chic stuff, but the two don't always really mesh very well so I have a hard time some times deciding what look I want to capitalize on! In this case, I also had a small budget so I chose to spend the majority of it on bedding that I found at West Elm.

Here are the before and after pictures—which are also, um, before and after I cleaned our room...

I fell in love with the navy striped duvet cover from West Elm and ordered it along with two matching pillow shams embroidered with our names, which will be arriving later since they were on backorder. I also nabbed a box spring cover on Amazon for about $35 since I no longer wanted a bedskirt, which didn't really suit the bed frame anyway.

The biggest part of the makeover was finally cleaning off and organizing the chester drawers on my side of the bed. It'd become a mess long before I'd been admitted to the hospital for two months and I'd just never got around to it. I put the extra books in a bookcase in my office, keeping only the current tomes I'm reading that happen to be 50 Shades of Grey (yes, I'm late to the game and am finally getting around to reading them!). 

A cute hanging rack from Hobby Lobby—that was 50% off for $6—made the perfect place to hang my necklaces and a leopard print tray for $12 from Stein Mart took care of rings and earrings. The crystal ring holder was a gift from my mother-in-law for Christmas years ago and the zebra-print box was as well. It contained four stemless wine glasses and I chose to use it to organize my bracelets. Perfect!








A simple coat of turquoise spray paint and some painters tape for stripes transformed the stars and letters that hung on the wall.


I kept the original window valances, which I'd covered with cheap and easy burlap fabric when we'd moved in. I removed the metal stars and the tan and orange burlap trim and replaced them with blue and white printed ribbon (a 50% off purchase from Hobby Lobby for $2 a roll) and some starfish and shells I had on hand. I secured the latter with my hot glue gun and the ribbon with heavy duty staples. Each of the three valances in our room has a different arrangement of shells and starfish.




Last, I finally hung the canvas that my good friend Lisa put together for me prior to my hospital admission when I was pregnant with the quads. It's signed by all sorts of friends, family and even nurses to encourage me to keep going during those tough weeks! I kept it in my hospital room and looked at it every day and now I see it every morning when I get up at home...and every night when I drag my butt out of bed to feed four babies at midnight, 3am, 6am, 9am. It reminds me to count my blessings and not the hours of sleep I'm missing out on. ;)



So that's it! Our one-day master bedroom makeover and I love it!




Okay, and of course I can't do a post without sneaking in a picture of the quadruplets. (Did you find the baby in one of my before pictures up above?) Here's our sweet things at home the other night, being patient while mommy dresses them up and takes yet another photo...


I'm still working on a post about our previous time spent in the NICU, the babies' three month update and pictures, a new recipe post and more so don't stay away too long! Happy weekend!

8.23.2012

{Quad Squad} Video Update from the Parents!

It's been three months to the day since our little quadruplets were born at 29 weeks and 5 days, and it's been just over a month since we started bringing them home from the NICU. Now that all six of us have been living under the same roof for five weeks, we're happy to report that we're still in one piece and, well, I'll let the video tell you the rest... :)


video

8.15.2012

{Quad Squad} Two months & counting!

So this post is a little late, since the quads are getting closer to three months old now but I just have to share a couple of their two month photos!









Kailey and Logan. So sweet!
Everyone is doing really great. We had a bit of a scare with Trystan (you can read about that here and here) but she's doing fine for now and we're keeping an eye on her sporadic reflux that causes her to choke. Ready for some individual updates? Read on!

Trystan
Trystan: Other than her choking episodes and an overnight stay in the ER, she's trucking along and gaining ground. We were a bit concerned during her first week home because she only gained about three ounces that week. (The other babies average around an ounce a day or just over.) But we've been diligent about working with her during feedings and encouraging her to finish that bottle and it seems to be paying off. Last week, she gained three ounces in four days! She now weighs 6lbs 11.5oz and averages 70-90 mls per bottle. We still refer to her as our little owl because she always has big, wide open eyes observing everything around her. She always spares a grin now and then, too, if you tickle her under her chin juuuust right. We're beginning to think she'll have auburn-colored hair as it has a pretty coppery sheen to it. And she's also got a temper if you mess with her feeding time or don't get to her dirty diaper fast enough. Girl's got some pipes!

Kailey: Our sweet little diva! Kailey has such a pretty face and the perfect little pouty lips. She sticks them out all the time when she wants to eat, needs a clean diaper, isn't happy with her current situation or simply wants to be held. She's gaining weight very well and now clocks in at 7lbs 9.5oz. Kailey's also draining her bottles dry more and more frequently, sucking down 110 mls now. She and Harrison are snuggle buds. In fact, we've identified Kailey as "The Snuggler" overall since she makes her way over next to anyone she's sharing a crib or pack-and-play with and lays her arms or legs over them. She's also the tummy time champ and wriggles her way across the mat or onto the floor quite often. Right now, Kailey's a bit of a bobble head as she whips that neck around but she's learning to hold it up a bit and can easily raise it up and switch it from side to side when laying on her stomach.

Kailey & Harrison
Harrison: Little man is still a sloppy, lazy eater but he hasn't given up his top spot and continues to lead the pack in size and weight. He topped eight pounds last week and now weighs in at 8lbs 1.5oz. Before, he literally slept ALL the time but it awake more during the day now and has the most gorgeous eyes. He is fairly content most of the time, especially if he's cuddled up on the couch with mom or dad and gets to hang out and watch TV. Harrison also has developed more and more facial expressions and is slowly becoming more interactive with is surroundings. He can hold his head up for several seconds at a time and easily rolls from side to side.

Logan
Logan: She's still our over-achiever but we may not be able to call her Peanut much longer. In fact, she tends to go by her other nickname, Loganator, most of the time. She just barrels through everything in her path! Today she graduated from Level 1 nipples on her Dr. Brown bottle to Level 2. It just wasn't flowing fast enough! Born smallest at 2lbs 6oz, she's started packing on the ounces and has surpassed Kailey and comes in second in weight at 7lbs 11.5oz. Little girl's got no neck though, and we joke she's going to be a football player! We have to keep her neck creases clean and dry and she's started getting adorable little fat rolls on her thighs. Unfortunately, Logan does deal with some reflux but she's been on Prevacid for awhile and it seems to be helping a lot. She finishes her bottles most of the time, drinking 95 mls, and appears to have less discomfort from the acid and gas. Since she's got a power neck, Logan can hold up her head up a good deal and rolls from side to side during tummy time or attempts to crawl over one of the girls. The other day we caught her head butting with Harrison. :)




So how are mom and dad doing? So glad you asked! We are hanging in there. Some days are incredibly hard and others are much more smooth and very enjoyable. But no matter how sleep deprived we are—I totally konked out while standing up the other night, woke up with a start a second later when I started swaying!—or how long we've gone without a shower, we love these babies will all our hearts. At 5am this morning, while trying to keep my eyes peeled open while feeding one of the babies and then getting projectile spit up on, I told the quads it was a good thing they were all so cute! I still can't believe that our lives now revolve around four little people, and I'm grateful for the help of family and friends. I'm pretty impressed that the husband and I have managed a little time away from the house now and then. We've enjoyed a lunch and dinner out and have seen two movies since the quads came home from the hospital three weeks ago. Each week, we try to do something whether it's a movie or a meal or a trip to the grocery store so we can reconnect and get a little breather.



And we've gotten creative with our home life, too. On days we're not as worn out (meaning we got 4 to 5 hours of sleep instead of 2!), we fire up the grill or pop open a beer. Yesterday we walked to our mailbox (community box a street over) and enjoyed the outdoor stroll together and before that we spent an hour at the neighborhood pool. It makes all the difference in recharging our batteries and helps us reconnect with each other and not burn out.

Our family friend and honorary grandma, Carol, and the husband's mom (right) hard at work!
Watch out! Quad mom is taking over the grill!
Grilled asparagus, peppers & squash with beef sausage and grilled lemon broccoli & artichoke hearts. Yum!
Two of our three dogs, Jersey & Reese.
"Play with me!"
Well, there you have it! An update on our Texas Tales. Coming next: reflections on life at the NICU.

8.14.2012

ER Update!

Just wanted to post a quick update on Trystan. We have been discharged and are currently waiting on daddy to pick us up at the hospital! Trystan had no episodes last night but the choking caused by reflux is still a concern, so we will keep a close eye on her. May start meds if the reflux becomes more consistent. In the meantime, can't wait to get home and see my other three babies! Missed them so much!!!


Next post: overdue two month photos!


8.13.2012

Our First ER Visit

When we began bringing babies home from the NICU a few weeks ago, I knew we would begin to face more "normal" challenges as parents. But our system is still based on preemies and multiples, a bit different than your average newborn. We measure bottle feed amounts in milliliters and time how long they take to eat, stick to a strict three hour schedule and have a pretty standard program we follow each day. We still have to work hard with the babies on their feeds, coaxing them to eat enough, keep them awake, help them burp well and minimize spitup and reflux issues.

Unfortunately, as with any baby, reflux is a standard and nearly unavoidable issue. We have one baby, Harrison, who is a happy spitter and doesn't get upset or require meds; one that's on Prevacid and has to sleep at a slight incline; and now sweet Trystan decided to join the group.

Last Thursday, we finished an evening feed and I was holding Trystan in my arms while surfing the web on my laptop. About 20 minutes in, I heard her make a funny noise and looked down to see her eyes bulging, face turning red and formula coming out her nose. I jumped up and ran into the living room where my husband was and flipped her over so her stomach was laying on my forearm and started pounding on her back, protocol for when an infant is choking. Then my husband quickly took over while I went to get a nasal aspirator because we realized the formula was partially digested so it was thick and was clogging up her airway and not budging. She was beginning to turn purple around her mouth and face. I suctioned each nostril as quickly as I could with the electronic aspirator and was able to pull all the formula out of her nose. Trystan gave a blood curdling scream and started breathing again, thank God. We checked to be sure her passageways were clear and her color was returning to normal. Then I sat down and bawled for about 10 seconds. It was awful.

Unfortunately, this morning the same thing happened twice in less than two hours. Thanks to the encouragement from our pediatrician, my husband and I brought Trystan to the ER while his mom and a good friend of ours stayed with the other three babies.

They did an EKG on her heart and a chest x-ray, both of which came back normal. Then they gave us the option to stay overnight so she could be monitored. We discussed it and chose to stay. After talking with our pedi again, we all agreed we wanted to be absolutely sure this was reflux and there are no other underlying issues we might have missed otherwise. There's no medication to cure reflux, only to minimize discomfort from the acid and such. This is something she will simply have to grow out of, when she's bigger and stronger and able to clear her passageways with a good cough or sneeze. For now, her reaction is to stiffen up and hold her breath. Needless to say, it's going to be very hard for me to sleep at night for awhile.

So here we are in our room, Trystan and I getting a little mommy-daughter time. I told her she can only pull a stunt like this once! It's a big dose of deja vu from our two months spent at the NICU. All too familiar hospital surroundings, heart rate and oxygen saturation monitors, machines beeping, muffled conversations in the hallway, nurses coming and going in the room. But we don't have quite the stress level as before; we are here for one night instead of two months and I'm not pregnant this time! I have it dark and quiet in here, it's actually fairly peaceful. I am feeding Trystan every three hours just like we do at home and hope to log some sleep time in between. Should be easier since it only takes me 20 minutes to finish, versus an hour and 15! Having her on the monitors gives me a bit of comfort right now, since we will know immediately if she stops breathing for any period of time.

Baby girl is warm and comfortable and sleeping soundly now, so I'm going to follow suit. My husband headed home to tend to our other three. We are so thankful for his mom who held down the fort for us today, as well as our family friends who came over to lend a hand. Both my husband and I were already pretty worn out and events like this just drain any small reserve energy we have. Hoping tomorrow is a better day, though I might be sporting some gray hairs I most certainly didn't have before...



8.09.2012

{Quad Squad} Frequently Asked Questions!

Life with multiples is not your everyday experience, to be sure. Especially when said multiples are your first foray into parenthood ever. Plus, it seems anything more than twins and triplets is cause for gasps of disbelief, excitement, curiosity and endless other emotions that family, friends and strangers encounter when trying to imagine handling that many babies. Needless to say, the husband and I have already received countless questions about our quadruplets and I figured it was time to shed some light on our ever-changing life with our fantastic four. :)



-Do you have help?
Yes. Though we haven't hired a nanny of any kind and are considering bringing in help a few days a week (we're still in talks about it), both of our moms have alternated spending weeks with us and helping care for the babies.  My mom and step-dad are temporarily moving down to our area in their RV for several months to help us on a more regular basis. It's completely doable with two people during the daytime, it's the night feeds every 2 to 3 hours that wear you completely out. I've never been so sleep deprived and delirious and happy all at the same time.


-What kind of vehicle do you have?
While I was still in the hospital pregnant with the quads, we purchased a used suburban (black with tan leather interior, a sunroof and DVD player—just what I wanted!). It was in great shape and perfectly fits four car seats with captains chairs in the middle row and a bench seat in the back.

-How did you balance having both babies at home and babies in the NICU?
This was one of the hardest parts about the whole thing. Before any of the babies came home, I would drive up to the NICU late morning and the husband would come up after work. Then we'd both leave between 7 and 9 pm, come home late, take care of all the pets and eat dinner and finally go to bed. Once babies started coming home, we couldn't take them back into the NICU. So one of us would watch the ones at home while the other would go visit the ones still in the hospital. Toward the end, we were only able to get up there every other day or so but that was only a one-week span before the final kiddo was discharged.




-Do you have four of everything?
Just about. We have two cribs and the babies sleep two to a crib. It works fine since the cribs are so big and should last for a few months, then we'll purchase two more cribs. We have four boppies, four bumbos, two pack and plays, two swings, one cradle swing, one bouncer, 32 bottles, 436 pacifiers (or at least it feels that way!), various tummy time mats, four car seats, two twin stroller frames (the car seats snap to the frame, it's simple and awesome) and various light-up toys, mobiles, etc.

-How do feeding times work?
The babies all get fed every three hours during the daytime, no ifs, ands or buts. At night, we let them sleep until they wake up to eat (which is anywhere from 2.5 to 4 hours) and then once the first one is awake and crying they all get woken up and fed. This keeps us from having to feed one, then another one an hour later then two 20 minutes after that—otherwise we'd be feeding around the clock and never have a break. While in the hospital, the NICU got them on a great three-hour feeding schedule and they follow it like clockwork during the day. On the rare occasion we have four people at the house, then all the babies get fed together, which is fantastic. Normally, though, we have two to three people per feeding and the first two babies that are crying or most awake get fed first, burped, then put back down while we feed the others. We have pre-made bottles in the fridge for 24 hours at a time (that's 32 bottles!) and they get warmed in a tupperware of hot water prior to feeding.


-Did you purchase a quad stroller?
No. They either come with four seats in a row making up a very lengthy stroller with stadium-like seating, or two-by-two that basically looks like two twin strollers put together with a huge canopy over the top. We chose to keep things simple and purchased two Baby Trend twin stroller frames. The Baby Trend car seats we have easily and quickly snap to the frames that are a breeze to pop open and closed. Once we've outgrown this arrangement, we'll sell it all and buy bigger car seats and two "regular" twin strollers. 

-Can you tell the babies apart?
Yes, I can! The husband gets a little fishy now and then, especially if the girls are dressed in the same outfits or one is wearing an outfit that another girl was wearing two days before that. But I can easily and quickly tell each kiddo apart, to me their faces are all very individual. One girl has a birthmark on her leg if we get desperate, one looks similar to the boy and one is thicker with a bigger head. :) But I still laugh when I remember the day the husband picked up our son and said, "Good girl, Harrison!" Priceless.

-Are you planning on having more kids?
Let me answer plainly: hell no! Initially, when beginning our journey to have kids, we found out that my egg count is extremely low and I'll likely hit menopause very early. I had two miscarriages and had issues staying pregnant and two minor surgeries to help rectify the situation. We were told that once we did get pregnant, we'd have to have however many kids we wanted in quick succession. After one round of IUI (intrauterine insemination) and ultrasounds showing I'd only produced two eggs, we were completely floored to discover that we had quadruplets! Four has now become our perfect—and final!—number.



-Did you plan to have quadruplets?
Not at all. As my previous answer indicates, we didn't do IVF where you retrieve eggs, fertilize them and then put several back in. I could get pregnant but it didn't ever stick very well. So we wanted to improve our odds by doing an IUI but ultrasounds prior to conception showed I'd only produced two mature eggs. The conclusion is that I must have produced two more overnight somehow and that's how we ended up with four individual babies (no identicals).

-Are you pumping breast milk?
I was, but recently stopped. At first, when they were only two and three pounds I was able to provide enough breast milk for everyone because they were eating tiny amounts. But as they increased to one and then two ounces and now three, I only made enough to give one baby a single breast milk feed each day. Pumping every three hours at night while they were all in the NICU was absolutely exhausting and nearly threw me into a depression from lack of sleep. Then as we brought babies home, I quickly realized that taking 30 minutes to sit down and pump and be attached to a machine that made it difficult to jump up and tend to the babies was going to be more trouble than it was worth. I tapered down by pumping fewer times each day to avoid as much discomfort as possible. The babies are now on full formula feeds and growing great!

-Do you chart everything?
Yes. We have a printable chart courtesy of a fellow quad mom who designed it that we use to chart how much each baby eats at each feeding, if they had a wet or dirty diaper, if they received medication of any kind (like reflux meds), if they were particularly fussy or difficult, their current weight (we weigh them once or twice a week) and length when we measure them. It's incredibly helpful to have this information on record so we can quickly identify why someone might not be gaining weight as quickly or if someone might be getting constipated—helpful to know when a massive poop might be coming, ha. It's also great because we can just take the book to the pediatrician with us and have all relative information at hand for their appointments.



-What does a typical day look like for a mother of quads?
Like massive, semi-organized chaos! Daytime starts with a feed at 8 or 9 am followed by naps in their pack and plays in the living room. There's three hours between each feed and feedings take around an hour or so, thus we end up with roughly two hours or less of time to nap, work, clean, do laundry, eat, etc. in between. It goes quick. The next feed is followed by tummy time and I usually cram in some work, a blog post or a quick errand after that while they spend a little time in their swings. We give baths every other day so if they are due up, we do that after the next feed. Depending on how awake or fussy/not fussy the quads are, they get swaddled and put in their cribs for bed anywhere between 9pm and midnight. We're still working out that last part as they grow, eat more, sleep more, etc!

-How can we (as friends/readers etc) best help you?
Having someone come by on the weekends to help with feedings is great because it means one—or occasionally both of us—gets out for an errand or to eat or go to the movies. Because the quads' immune systems aren't up to par yet, we've had to ask anyone that wants to come by and see them to have a current DTap vaccination. It covers diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. The whooping cough is a great preventative for having preemie babies as a simple cold could land them back in the NICU. Soon we'll have to add the flu shot to that requirement as those become available for the season. They now include the H1N1 vaccine, another important precaution. We're not hoping to avoid the babies getting sick, we're just attempting to prolong it as much as possible until they are big and strong enough to handle it.

Otherwise, I love reading everyone's encouraging comments and emails—they always bring a smile to my face and motivate me to continue sharing our quad journey!

-How do you find time to blog?
Ha, I'm not sure. Right now, for instance, I found myself with 20 spare minutes—if you even want to call it that—and decided to sit down and bang out these answers. Basically, I chose not to do laundry, dishes or whatever and tackle a blog post instead! Sometimes they are easy to do, other times I go days without getting to log on. Fortunately, because I'm a writer I guess, it usually doesn't take me to long to create a post.

-How many diapers a day?
The babies get changed before each feeding and each baby is fed 8 times in a 24 hour period. Then there's a few extra diapers thrown in when things get particularly, um, messy. So roughly 40 diapers per day. Which is 280 diapers a week, which is 1,120 diapers per month. And yes our bills in the diaper and formula department are immense.

-What is your favorite color?
Pink! Just kidding. My friends and family give me a hard time because I ended up having three girls and I myself am not the girliest of girls. And I despised pink. But the other day I looked in the pack and play where the girls where napping and they were each dressed in pink onesies covered in pink blankets. It didn't even happen on purpose. It's just like pink manifests when there's that many baby girls in close quarters! Needless to say, I'm getting used to it. :)

-How much are you going to miss your favorite nurses?
A lot!! It was really emotional to leave the NICU for the last time. We had some truly amazing nurses that touched our lives forever. You can certainly create a special bond with someone who is caring for your children at their most critical state. They shared many ups and downs with us throughout the babies' two month stay in the hospital and it was hard to tell them goodbye. We keep in touch with several of them—including some of my nurses I had while I was still pregnant in the hospital for 57 days—and I'm glad they are able to see the quads continue to grow and flourish. They'll forever be a part of our lives and in our hearts.

-When will you go back to work writing articles? Or are you going back?
I actually worked while I was in the hospital pregnant and finally stopped a couple weeks before having the babies. Then a few weeks later I resumed some of my usual assignments (I write for magazines, copy edit newspapers, etc.) and have been working part-time at home ever since. You can actually take a gander at my monthly fashion and shops feature in Houston magazine here. And my professional website is here, if you're dying to know more about what I do. ;)

****

Well, folks, that's all I got! Thanks for sharing your questions with me. I'm sure I'll do another FAQ post so if you have a question that wasn't answered here, please leave it in the comments section and I'll make a note for future. Then come on back for my next post with two month pictures and an update on our crew!
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