boys are on the menu

My wonderful sister-in-law utilized the Care Calendar, an online (free) tool that organizes help for individuals for any number of circumstances. In our case, it has been for meals and it has been so great. Two nights ago, someone brought us taco soup, which was delicious. As he sat in our living room across from Kevin, with Evan in a bouncer, Eli in my arms, Davis showing off his pull-ups (not training pants, for real pull-ups), and Ronin helping our guest take off his coat so he could stay a while, he chuckled and said, "Looks like boys are on the menu!"

Indeed! Our home is full of guys, but my heart is full of love and blessing. Here are three of our five guys.
Davis and Eli



sixteen candles

Growing up, my family attended a yearly conference, because of this we were constantly seeing older people who would tell my brothers and me how they remembered us when we were little babies and how they changed our diapers. I thought it was pretty ridiculous, until now. My niece will be sixteen tomorrow, on the 23rd. I was in seventh grade when she was born, she was the smallest baby I had ever held. Now she's an incredibly talented and beautiful young lady. Her brother felt the need to obnoxiously sing happy birthday as close to her face as possible, he succeeded.
And apparently it takes three people to get sixteen candles lit on a cake. My mom always gives the gift of food on your birthday, you choose the full menu, and she makes it. So, we had lasagna rolls, mashed potatoes, green beans, french bread, and Italian cream cake.
The food was delicious, the company was fabulous, it was a great day to celebrate the life of my precious niece! Happy Birthday.


yes, they're identical

These days, if the boys make it out of their room, they can share the bouncer seat because they are still so small. We made our first trip to the doctor and Eli (right) weighs 5lbs, and Evan (left) is 4lbs.7oz. (about the same as his discharge weight). The hospital sent us home with monitors for the boys; so their heart rate and respirations are constantly at our attention in the form of blinking green lights. If their heart rate goes above 220 or below 80, it will alarm to notify us. It seems each day the monitor goes off less and less and this is more and more of an encouragement to us.
I spend a lot of time in this chair, they eat every three hours, so imagine the normal routine you do for a newborn, only right when I lay the first one down, I turn around and do the whole routine again, then go to sleep for hopefully two hours and wake up to do it again. It has not been as stressful as I anticipated and I am very thankful. We continue to be in awe of the miracles God has performed in the lives of these babies!



The day my c-section was scheduled was October 22. So technically, our babies came home a few days early! We brought them home last night (10.22.10) and are thrilled to have them with us finally. I am nursing both the boys and it is going well so far, just not getting much sleep, which is to be expected!


two weeks old

Yesterday our little ones turned two weeks old. They are still growing, but still have some progress to make. Any baby in the NICU has to consistently do three things before they can leave:
1. Maintain healthy breathing
2. Maintain their own body temperature
3. Feed from a bottle at each feeding without tubing any of the milk (right now, both our boys take bottles, they just don't have enough energy to finish the feeding and so the remainder of the bottle is put in a syringe and pumped through a feeding tube)

Evan now weighs 4lbs.2oz. (which is only one ounce more than his birthweight, but he lost quite a bit in his travels from Children's and back), he is off oxygen, he is now in a crib instead of the incubator, and he is now showing significant signs of interest in feeding and takes almost half of his bottles.

Eli now weighs 4lbs.11oz., he came off his oxygen but they have put him back on because he's had some sleep apnea, he is also now in a crib, and he is taking some bottles. On Tuesday the nurse told me he contracted an infection, MRSA, there's no way of telling how he got it or who he got it from, but now anyone who enters his room must "gown and glove." It also means the boys are in separate rooms. This is a common infection in the NICU, so much so that every baby is checked for it weekly.

Please continue to pray, we have seen and felt the coverage of prayer from across the globe and cannot begin to express how grateful we are.



Eli took a bottle for the first time and burped.
I got to hold Evan for the first time (10.9.10)
Eli was awake and responsive to touch for Davis (and all of us).
Daddy got to hold Eli (pictured here) and Evan for the first time. (10.9.10)

Today was the first time for both the boys to be in clothes...they look super cute!



Both the boys have a little bit of jaundice, that's why the pictures look blue, these were taken today after Evan and Eli were together again. This is Eli (with my hand on him):
This is Evan (with Davis's hand on him):
Some people have asked if they are identical, yes they are.


10.2.10 (part 2)

The perfect way to end the day would have been right then, at 5:15 a.m. We had no idea what was in store for the rest of the day.

By 8:30, Kevin's parents had made it back in town and to the hospital to see our precious boys, by 9, my dad was there too. By 2:30, we had the OU/TX game on, Kevin had taken a nap, and I was recovering in my room, while the twins were in the NICU.

Kevin brought our older boys up to the hospital so they could see their new brothers. My mom prepared them for some disappointment by telling them they wouldn't be able to hold the babies. Davis was sad, but he asked, "Mommy gets to hold them though, right?" My mom answered his question by telling him that even I couldn't hold the babies yet. He was really surprised, but felt better that he wasn't the only one.

Both Davis and Ronin laid with me in my bed for a few minutes, and checked out everything that was in my room while Kevin went back to look at the babies with his parents. The phone to the hospital room rang, it was the pediatrician, and he told me he was coming to my room to talk to me. I asked my mom to take the boys out, and tell Kevin to come in.

The doctor turned the volume on the TV completely off. Kevin and I both sat and stared at him, waiting for what had to be serious news.

Dr. Verma explained to us that Evan was experiencing pulmonary hypertension and he anticipated that our little baby would likely need to be placed on an ECMO machine. The only hospital that has one is Children's. He had already called for the helicopter to take Evan there. At the end of the conversation Kevin asked what the survivability rate was, and he said it was 50/50.

The news was incredibly sobering. Kevin had to leave immediately with the doctor and nurse to sign consent forms, so I was alone for what felt like forever. My mom walked in the room, with no words of her own, but held me as we wept together. She sat by my side and told me it would be okay.

"But okay could mean losing him," I said, "I feel like this entire journey with the twins has been about seeing the goodness of God and how powerful He is, what if He wants to use this to show people that we believe He is good and powerful and gracious even if He takes Evan away?"

We all felt the same: God is good and loving even if He takes our son, but we will cry out to Him for His healing power. And we did; we called, texted, and asked the Facebook world to cry out with us, on our behalf, and for our son.

Evan arrived at Children's hospital, and within an hour he was stable; the doctor there questioned the records from Mercy, but we all knew that there was only One Person who had done anything to stabilize our boy. Saturday night and part of Sunday Evan still seemed to be in a dangerous place, he was stable but not showing signs that he was "out of the woods" as Kevin would say.

On Monday night, my mom and I wheeled down to the NICU to see Eli (Kevin had spent most of his time at Children's with Evan) and I asked the nurse when I would finally be able to hold him. After looking at his charts, she said there was no reason I couldn't hold him now.

I cried. I had only put my hand through a hole in his incubator to touch him, and I was only able to do that late Sunday.

I waited while she got him ready, and once she handed him to me it was as if tears were not even possible because of the joy in my heart. My mom and I headed back to my room after twenty minutes and I had missed four calls from Kevin, I called him back and the doctor had said Evan officially made a turn for recovery, and it seemed almost in spite of the things they had done, and thought by the end of the week he should be able to go back to Mercy.

Evan continues to get better and better, and so does Eli. Today (Oct. 7, 2010), they are together again. The doctors say we probably have two to three weeks before they will be able to come home. Our older boys love their little brothers, today they sang to them and talked to them and put their hands on them.

I'm still waiting to hold Evan.

10.2.10 (part 1)

Apparently, October 2 was the perfect day to have twins.

We had scheduled the c-section for October 22, but God seems to be in the business of changing our plans quite frequently.

At 2:20 am on Saturday morning I woke up (like I always do when I have to roll over) and felt the urge to go the bathroom, I stood up and started the four steps it takes to get there and was already wet before I reached the toilet. Strange that all of the sudden I had no control over my bladder is what I was thinking. I went and laid back down, but this same thing happened again, and this time I knew something wasn't right.

I walked slowly into the living room to get to the computer, and Kevin was laying on the couch wide awake because he hadn't been able to sleep. I looked at him and asked what he was doing, he looked at me and asked the same question. I said, "Umm...I think maybe my water broke, or I'm leaking a lot of fluid."
"We need to go to hospital."
"Well, let me just call the hospital, maybe my water didn't break."
"Okay, go ahead and call."
I looked up the number, called the hospital, and after a short conversation with them I said, "They said I just need to come in." My husband is so patient with my stubbornness.

I called my mom to come be with the boys, and we arrived at the hospital by 3:45. The nurses took me to a room, put heart monitors on the babies, one for contractions, and checked my cervix. They assured me my water did break, and I was dilated to a one. They left to call my doctor; I called my mom to give her an update, and the nurse came back into room and said, "We're going to section you in thirty minutes, your doctor said 15, but I told him we don't even have an IV in yet."

Kevin began the first round of text messages and phone calls to let people know what was happening, while my mom tried to find someone else to come be with the boys so she could quickly come to the hospital.

It's amazing what a nursing staff can do in thirty minutes, because by 4:30 I was on the operating table being swabbed with iodine on my back and belly. Once I laid down the famous blue curtain was drawn up. On my right side about eight nurses stood ready to receive the boys, on the left were four more nurses for the surgery, behind me was my amazing anesthesiologist, holding my hand right beside me was Kevin on my side of the curtain, next to him, my doctor.

Dr. Mirabile told me I would feel tugging, pulling, and jumping. Jumping? Yes, jumping. And I did. Amidst everything I was feeling, I was waiting to hear something. I stared into the blue curtain, and scanned Kevin's eyes as he watched intently what was going on on the other side of the curtain. Finally, I heard it.

A baby's cry.

It was Eli. At 5:05 am, the doctor pulled him out to be a part of this world and just a minute later Evan was letting us know he was there too. For months now, Eli has been called "the little one," no longer, he weighed 4lbs.4oz. and was 17 inches long and Evan was 4lbs.2oz. 16 1/2 inches long. In a few moments they were bundled in blankets and nestled together in an incubator and wheeled out from the OR to the NICU.

Meanwhile, my mom had her own adventure in getting to the hospital. Kevin's parents were out of town, my dad was out of town, my brother's phone was dead, and eventually it was one of my best friends who came to relieve my mom so she could rush to the hospital. She made it to the fifth floor and was looking around at the exact moment the twins were being rolled down the hall to the NICU. We couldn't have planned it better.


shower the people you love

A couple weeks ago, I was showered with love by many friends and some family. We walked away with so many matching outfits and several things we really needed, like lots and lots of diapers.
my friend Jenny, who came all the way from Tulsa!
friends Courtni and Cynda since Kindergarden who made the whole thing happen
diaper cakes made by one of my "second moms," Janie

Thank you to all who made it, I really appreciate all of you!


@ 30 weeks

30 weeks seems like a milestone to me, and I guess it is because now I get to see the doctor twice a week instead of just once until the babies come.

They are weighing in at 3lbs.4oz. (Evan/Recipient baby) and 2lbs.12oz. (Eli/Donor baby). The main thing we're watching now is their hearts. The walls of Evan's heart are still thick and the blood flow in Eli's heart still needs improvement. The recovery that they have made so far is amazing! I have seen so many ultrasounds now even I can see a difference when I see their little hearts beat.


the older princes

Davis started Kindergarden a couple weeks ago, and Ronin and I now have a few hours of quality time every morning. I think all of us are enjoying this short season before the twins arrive.


the twins and me at seven months

For those of you who are far away, or just haven't seen me in a while:

finger toes

That's right, finger toes, some call them monkey toes, but either way, I am sure you know what I'm talking about. Toes that function like fingers; they run in my family. Many of my friends made fun of me for my finger toes when I was growing up, but you know who's laughing now?

I am.

My finger toes have made my pregnancy survivable. I'll be honest, if something falls to the ground and it is not important, it will stay there until Kevin or one of the boys pick it up. However, if I need to pick something up, my belly does not like bending over, and my toes come to the rescue.


Last Milestone Til Delivery

When we sat in the conference room with Dr. Moise at the Baylor College of Medicine, he explained to us that there are three milestones after the surgery for TTTS: Day 1, Day 7, and Day 28.

Last Wednesday was Day 28! All the high risks to the babies and myself are gone! It doesn't mean that I can go running tomorrow, but it does mean we're all breathing a little easier.

I am still facing the general public who seem to think I should have delivered yesterday, and when I inform them I have eight weeks to go, they stand in shock until I cushion the blow with the fact that I am having twins.

All the common complications (i.e. preterm labor) that can arise in pregnancies of multiples are still a factor for us as well, so please continue to pray for us and I will keep the updates coming.


A Brief Timeline of the Twins

As you all know, we are having twin boys! While many people find out this kind of news early in the pregnancy, we found out as a family when we thought we were finding out the gender, and it began:

June 15-the doc tells us, "Yep, there's two babies in there...and double trouble, two boys."
July 13 -doc says there is a possibility the twins have twin transfusion and sends me to a specialist, Dr. Mirabile.

July 20-meet with Dr. Mirabile, who confirms that the boys do have what is actually called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS)

July 21-receive call from the doctors at Texas Children's Hospital about laser surgery

July 25-fly to Houston, my parents pick me up (Kevin is in SC for WLC with Reserves)

July 26-pre-operational appointment with 2 1/2 hour ultrasound at Baylor College of Medicine and conference with Dr. Moise; Kevin arrives in Houston

July 27-Laser surgery done by the staff of Texas Children's at 6am

July 29-Kevin and I drive home from Houston, TX

Aug 4-One-week post-op appointment with Dr. Mirabile, significant signs of recovery

Aug 11-Two-week post op appointment, Eli's fluid volume is up to 5cm!

Aug 19-Three-week post-op appointment, no signs of reversal in Evan's (recipient) blood flow!

Aug 26-Made the 28 day post-op milestone with healthy boys and a healthy mom

Both the boys still have some recovery and healing to do in their hearts, but overall, they look great and both of them are growing (last week Evan was about 2 1/2 lbs. and Eli was right at 2 lbs.).


Two Weeks

Two weeks ago the fluid in Evan's sac measured 15cm, yesterday it measured 7.9cm. The normal fluid volume is around 5cm, which is right where Eli's is, two weeks ago there wasn't a pocket deep enough to measure.

The day after the surgery, Evan was breech and Eli was still hanging out pretty close to the wall of the uterus. Yesterday, they were both head down and moving around like crazy.

Our first ultrasound with Dr. Mirabile showed significant distress in Evan's heart, and some issues for Eli too. The distress is gone, but their hearts still need recovery and healing. The doctor said their hearts will take the longest to heal because the issues took so long to develop.

We continue to be amazed at who God is and what He does, and we continue to trust His hand in healing the boys' hearts while He holds ours through this process.


Dreaming in Dopplers

Ultrasound after ultrasound for these boys that grow in my belly have been happening in the last week. I am amazed at technology, and in awe of the way God gifts people. After so many ultrasounds, laser surgery, and some ToGo Chili’s, I laid down to try and sleep, and all I could see were the images from all the Doppler readings.

Blood flow in the heart, in the umbilical cord, and in the brain are all incredibly important when performing the procedure that was done at Texas Children’s Fetal Center. Each of these can be measured by the Doppler readings in the ultrasounds.

Flashing red, blue, and sometimes hints of yellow and orange dance on the black and white screen illuminating what we know is true: Life is in the blood.


four princes

I suppose it is time to make it official and let the world know: I am pregnant with twin boys.

Last week our whole family went to the doctor to find out the gender of the baby growing in my belly, to our surprise, the doctor said there are two growing and they are both boys.

Here's to the adventure ahead of us with our four princes!

3rd installment

A week after the second conversation, Davis approached Kevin on a Sunday afternoon telling Daddy his dilemma that he couldn't seem to shake: he was the worst person in the world. Kevin looked over at me, and then said to him, "Mommy has a book she wants to read to you about that when you get home."

When we got home, I got the boys ready for bed, they had snacks, and then I pulled out the book to read to Davis. The end of the book has a helpful explanation of how to talk to Jesus about your sin and receive the gift of Life. However, when we got to this part, Davis was not really interested so I stopped reading. I assumed that he just wasn't ready; the boys brushed their teeth, went to the bathroom and got in bed.

I scratched Ronin's back and sang him a song, then did the same for Davis. He stopped me and asked if he could pray. Davis began to pray, "Dear Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me and that You're alive and coming back again so I can go to heaven...[right here I interrupted and asked Davis if he wanted to talk to Jesus about the bad things he's done and thought, he looked at me sincerely, said yes, then continued] I'm sorry for everything I've done that's bad. In Jesus Name, Amen."

According to the Bible, Davis just became a Christian. I looked at him and said, "Do you know what just happened?"
"You're God's son now. The Bible tells us if we believe that Jesus is God's Son, that he died for our sins, and rose again, that you will receive the gift of eternal life, that's what you just did."

He started bouncing up and down in his bed, so excited he could hardly contain it. We called Grandma and Grandpa, Mawmaw and Papa, and Daddy (because he was working the night shift) and Davis excitedly told them he was now God's son. After the phone calls, I asked Davis, "Did you think you had to do something?" He nodded his head, and I assured him that there's nothing he can do, in fact that is why what Jesus did is so amazing, we really can't do anything to become God's children.

He was stunned, he sat there looking at me in near disbelief that is was all Jesus' work the entire time he had been dealing with the weight of his sin.

I think we both had a hard time going to sleep that night because of just how excited we were.


in bloom

We moved into our house last August and had no idea what was in our front little garden. Last week we knew it would be something purple because the blooms were almost visible. Two days ago, we woke up to see these beauties.


can't walk or drive there

Two days following the conversation I had with Davis about him being the worst person in the world, another one came.

Every night I scratch both the boys' backs then sing "the Grace Song" to them. Before even starting to sing, Davis assured me, "Mom, I promise, I'm the worst person in the world." I responded, " Have you been thinking about Jesus?" Because I know that's the only hope for a feeling of such despair.

This time our conversation was even heavier than before. We talked about the cross, and why Jesus died, which Davis knew well. Next I asked if he knew where you went when you died if you are a part of God's family. He knew the answer was Heaven. I asked the oppposite question, and he knew that answer too (he called it the bad place, and I told him it's name).

With tears building in my eyes, I explained to Davis that hell is a place where God will never go. He asked a logical question: "But can't you walk out of there?" No. "Drive?" No. I could tell he felt the weight of this as much as I did, and I asked if maybe now he wanted to talk to Jesus about everything we had been talking about.

Still, his answer was no. He still wasn't ready, he thought maybe someday he could do that.


worst person in the world

Your mind's racing, maybe Hitler?

But no, about two weeks ago, my son came into the bathroom while I was getting ready and told me he was sure he was the worst person in the world. Perhaps the reaction from most parents would be to assure the child of his/her goodness. My heart just could not go there.

Instead, I told him about Paul. Paul, the missionary in the Bible, who called himself chief of sinners. We talked about God's grace and how amazing it is to cover over all the things, thoughts, and problems we have. I continued by telling him how you get a new heart when you become part of God's family; and that new heart is like Jesus' heart. It means when God looks at you, He no longer sees the worst person in the world, He sees His Son.

I sat Davis down in my lap and held him for a few minutes, and told him we could talk to Jesus about all of that right that minute.

He looked at me, still overwhelmed and a little sad, and said, "I'm not ready yet."


mom/next American Idol

I am scared to admit that I have a mixed tape that includes a song in which I sing. The tape was actually made for a friend who returned it to me not too long ago. These days I usually drive the van, the van’s CD player is broken, and I am not a big fan of the radio.

Every song on the mixed tape is one of my favorites from that time in my life; naturally, I popped the tape in to have a listen. I made the mistake of telling our boys that I was singing on the one song. Now, every time we get in the car they want to hear that song. I try to indulge them once in a while.

Tonight was one of those nights, we had just finished watching American Idol with Kevin’s parents and we were headed home. I put it on for them, and they cheered, literally clapped and shouted for my song.

No, I won’t be trying out for season 15 (or whatever’s next), I don’t need to be the next American Idol; it’s enough for me that my kids cheer when I sing.