Since the birth of the twins, we are slowly getting back to normal, though the definition of our new normal seems to be shifting daily. Evan came home two weeks ago, while Kate came home from the NICU this past Tuesday.
With one twin at home, the other still in the hospital, and Kendra unable to drive, I requested two weeks off from teaching. We have a very reasonable employer (yes, we teach at the same school), and I was granted the time out of work. Until Kate came home, one of us was in the hospital with her while the other stayed home with Evan. We also had several doctors appointments and visiting nurse appointments for Evan, as well as appointments for Kendra. (We were THRILLED when one of our friends, Stacey, was able to take on Evan. We coached all three of her wonderful kids, so we know he is in great hands.) With all the traveling to and from Boston during the day, and getting up at night to feed Evan, we are EXHAUSTED.
Though I have been home from work, we had Addie continue her full-day preschool in an attempt to maintain “life as usual” for her. However, it was obvious the stress at home was affecting her as well – she started having accidents during the day, and she cried several times when I dropped her off at school. It was heartbreaking, so we came up with a few ideas to try to help her with all the big changes in her life – moving, the birth of her brother and sister, and starting preschool. Last Friday I took her to buy a fish. It’s something I have wanted to do for a while, and the timing seemed right. Naturally, she picked out a purple fish and decked the tank out with hot pink rocks and pink, purple and blue plants. On the way to buy the fish, I asked what she was going to name it. She replied, “Sally!” When we actually bought the fish, it was a boy, so I asked her if she wanted to change the name. She looked at me very seriously and said, “No mama – his name is Sally!”
Over the weekend, my father-in-law Boris, and I took Addie on a bike ride to give her some much-needed one-on-one time. Kendra also came up with a great idea – she drew a heart on all of our hands with a blue marker so that when any of us missed the other, we could look at the heart. Addie has insisted on drawing hearts every morning since. She even came up with some of her own coping mechanisms. She asked if she could take a photo from our fridge to school – one of the three of us together. We let her, and apparently she carries it around with her most of the day. Once Kate got home, things seemed to really shift for Addison. I think it was very hard for her to wrap her mind around the idea that her brother was home but her sister was still in the hospital. Her accidents are decreasing (none today!) and she woke up happy to go to school all week. Today I surprised her with a picture of the twins to take to school with her, and she proudly showed it to anyone who would look.
Now that both twins are home, Kendra and I are quickly figuring out how best to tackle the nighttime feedings. Their internal clocks are still wacky, so they sleep for five and six-hour stretches during the day, but then get up every two to three hours at night. Kate is a bit more feisty than Evan, but they are both easy-going. We’ve been doing tummy time and lots of cuddling – I think they like being back together.
I have yet to take any photos with my camera – so far I have relied on my iPhone, but we have plans to do a photo shoot this weekend with all three kids.
Evan had his first of many cardiology checkups at Children’s Hospital in Boston today. After taking his height and weight, the nurse ran an EKG to check the electrical activity of his heart. We spoke at length with his doctor, who confirmed for us that open-heart surgery is in Evan’s future. The second heart defect is still helping stave the effects of the first, which makes us oddly grateful for this particular defect – we were told without it, Evan would be in surgery in the next week or so. Instead, we are hoping to hold off until after winter and the cold/flu season.
As the reality of Evan’s condition continues to sink in, we’ve begun to watch the medical bills pile up. The cost of the NICU stays and Evan’s treatments are not going to be cheap. Thankfully we are both employed, have the opportunity to take paid leave, and decent medical insurance – I can’t imagine what it must be like for uninsured/unemployed parents facing such difficult circumstances. No one should have to worry about money or work when their little one is sick.
We return to the cardiologist in a month. Until then we’ll keep praying and adjusting to our new normal. Evan has no restrictions, so tomorrow we are taking all three kids on a hike. It’s time to introduce these little boos to nature!