Sunday, January 20, 2013

Quad Update: How Are We Doing?

I didn't realize how long it's been since I wrote an update about the kids' health until...well, until at least ten people asked me specifically how they are doing physically and developmentally. So, this is going to be one, rather long, hopefully not-too-boring, quad update. Hang tight!
We are about one month out from the kids second birthday. That is so hard to believe! Every now and again I look back through "old" photos from six months ago and it seems a ridiculously long time ago and yet just yesterday. Whoa.

Caleb:
Socially, Mr. Caleb has really started to come out of his shell in the last few months. He used to hang in the corner by himself and not really get involved with the other kids. He is now rambunctious and wants to be in the middle of the excitement. I was so worried about his reticence, so I'm super happy to see him joining the group.

Developmentally, his motivation hasn't changed much. Caleb's thought process goes a lot like this, "Why would I walk over there if I can just crawl?" Granted, through lots of therapy, we finally got him walking, but he was the last kid to do so. He needs a lot of encouragement to try new things. He is making strides developmentally, it's just a bit on the slow going side with him.

Verbally, Caleb speaks the second most words with his vocabulary consisting of, "oh," "no," and "uh-oh." By the age of two, kids should have somewhere between 100-250 words and small phrases in their vocabulary. We obviously have a ways to go. At the end of January, all of the kids will start seeing a Speech Therapist to help them learn how to talk.

Physically, Caleb sees a Cardiologist, Occupational Therapist, and Physical Therapist. The therapists are helping him catch up as he is consider 16 months old skill-wise on their chart. Right now, his cardiology appointments are once a year to follow the two holes in his heart. He still has a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) from when he was born and also has a hole between the top two chambers of his heart, called an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) that affects blood flow.

All kids have PDAs while in the womb, but normally they close by the time the child is born or just after. In the case of preemies, there often isn't enough cooking time in the womb for the hole to close.

The ASD is actually a bigger issue. ASD's effect blood flow causing oxygenated blood and unoxygenated blood to mingle instead of everything moving in the correct direction. What happens is that blood that leaves the heart pumps to the lungs with that mixture of oxygneated/unoxyengated blood and causing the heart to overwork. As a child, this isn't a huge issue because the body is small, but the bigger the person grows, the harder the heart has to work to make up for the inefficiency. Eventually it has to be fixed before adulthood (if you are an Arnold Swartzenagger fan, this is the same heart surgery he had as an adult...late in life!). Heart failure is a potential outcome if the hole isn't fixed. So, I don't know if that was clear as mud or what, but long story short, it was confirmed at his annual checkup in December that the holes have not closed at all and he will need heart surgery in the next couple of years. We have been told that we can make it another year with the holes in his heart and he will be reevaluated in December 2013 with a surgery date most likely set after that. If he had had this surgery as a baby, it would have been open heart. Instead, they will be able to go through his groin, insert two plugs to close both holes, and send him home the same day. We like this version a lot more!

I promise, I really am trying to make this as interesting as possible!

Abby:
Socially, Abby loves people! She is a flirt and always has been (Daddy needs to prepare himself!). We are pretty sure that Larry the Cucumber is her current crush. Haha! She prefers to play on her own, but interacts well with her siblings. She has no fear of new people or new places and takes off for the toys without saying goodbye to Mommy and Daddy when she goes to the church nursery to play (when it's not winter).

Developmentally, Abby does pretty well. She is still considered to be 16 months developmentally, but is willing to try new things. Given the opportunity, I'm sure she would climb straight up to the roof. I can hardly keep both of her feet on the ground! Motivation isn't an issue for her...unless we are talking about eating. Speaking of which, will feeding this child ever get easier?! From the beginning, she has been a very different feeder, and that really hasn't changed much now that she is a toddler. She makes every attempt to live on: milk, crackers, bread items, chips, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The problem is that there aren't enough calories or nutrients in those to keep her growing. The doctor now has her on Boost shakes to get her caloric intake up. Yep, she got slapped with the "failure to thrive" label. Thanks for making me feel like an awesome mom, Abby.

Verbally, Abby doesn't speak. She does babble but doesn't have any words yet.

Physically, Abby sees just the Occupational Therapist with the Speech Therapist starting this month as well. She has been discharged from seeing an Opthamologist regularly for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) and now just sees her yearly along with the other kids for regular eye exams.

Still with me? Two down, two to go!

Elijah:
Socially, Elijah is a huge snuggler. He loves people, loves laughing, loves making people laugh, loves helping...just generally loves being in the middle of everything and pleasing his parents, siblings, and therapists. One of the best parts of Elijah's personality is his sweet, sensitive heart. He visibly worries about his siblings when they are upset. He can run into a wall and not even notice, but if he feels like someone has slighted him, his feelings are incredibly hurt. He also gets upset if one of his siblings is upset. I so appreciate his sweet spirit and hope that I do a good job of guiding him to manhood without crushing his spirit.

Developmentally, we had the same motivation issue with Elijah for awhile that we did with Caleb. Not quite to the same degree, but he still doesn't want to work harder than he absolutely has to.

Verbally, Elijah can make a few sounds, but I haven't heard him say any words. For the most part, he will mouth sounds, but doesn't like to say them out loud. However, he has developed a stand-up comedy routine and keeps Daddy, Mommy, and siblings in stitches all of the time. Now if we could just get him to use words instead of babbling so that we can understand what he is saying...

Physically, Elijah is doing what the others are: walking, running, and working on squatting. The therapists often have him do (modified) planks to strength his core since that's always been a week spot.


One kid left! If you've made it this far, you are seriously hard core!

Ellie:
Socially, Ellie can't get enough of people! It seems that every person that she meets is her new best friend. She hasn't met a stranger, which is somewhat concerning from a safety point of view, but ultimately so adorable!

Developmentally, Ellie is the furthest ahead cognitively. It's exciting to see her process what we are saying and respond with her actions. She also sees things that need to be done and fixes them herself: wipes up spilled milk with her stuffed animals, takes favorite loveys to siblings who are sad, finds little pieces of paper or trash that other siblings would eat and brings them straight to me. Such a sweet, helpful little girl! She is all about pleasing others. My hope for her is that I can encourage her kindness but make sure that she knows she is always loved even when she does something wrong. I see a lot of myself in her, and I know how easy it is to mix those two things up.

Verbally, Ellie has the most words in her vocabulary at this time: "Daddy," "Mommy," "please," "bye," "ball," and "pants." However, she doesn't use her words very often unless prompted. She will also be seeing the speech therapist in a few weeks. I hope that the speech therapist is ready for all of this!

Physically, Ellie has developed far beyond what we hoped. When she was in the hospital, we were told that because of the cysts on her brain, she was a very good candidate for cerebral palsy. She also had severely bowed legs and feet and we weren't sure how much work it would take for her to walk. We were prepared for boots, casting, extensive therapy, and the idea that she might not walk for a long time, or possibly at all. On top of that, there was also an issue while she was in the hospital with the breast milk that was given to her. The nurse on one of the night shifts mixed up my breast milk with another NICU mom's milk and gave Ellie the wrong bottle (scroll to the end of the linked post if you want more details). The other mom, through no fault of her own, had contracted some diseases prior to having her baby, and we were told that Ellie would need additional testing to make sure she hadn't contracted anything. All of her tests came back negative, but we were told that HIV can take up to six months to actually show up in a blood test once it's been contracted. Although HIV cells are considered to be to big too pass through breast milk, there was still a chance that Ellie could end up HIV positive.

All that to say, Ellie has overcome every hurdle by the grace of God! Ellie was our second baby who learned how to walk toward the end of May 2012. I will never forget the feeling of awe I had for God's provision for our baby on the day that she took her first steps. She was walking! We didn't even know if it would be possible! And in November 2012, she had a second blood test that showed she is HIV negative, and we can now cross any leftover fears from the breast milk mix-up off of our list.

Right now, the main thing that we are working on with her is her weight. Ellie has also been labeled by the pediatrician as a "failure to thrive" child. Hers is more severe than Abby's, so she has been going in for weight checks every other month. We've been able to get her back on the weight/growth curve, but she is still drinking Boost everyday to keep her weight moving in the right direction. Let me tell you, nothing makes you feel better as a mom than to hear that your child is failing to thrive. *sigh* I promise we feed these kids, and we feed them good, nutritious food too! Abby just doesn't like to eat, and Ellie is eating but burning more calories than she consumes.


In summary:
All of the kids are considered to be 16 months developmentally based on the skills they have. The two main things that they need to do to move up the curve is 1) jump with both feet leaving the floor, and 2) go up and down the stairs without assistance or crawling. Once they master those two things, they will be considered around 20 months developmentally. However, as of age 2, they will no longer be working under adjusted ages, and doctors will consider them officially their correct age.

We are also in the middle of our final winter lockdown. Our kids don't have immune systems or lungs that can withstand the severe illnesses that come during cold and flu season. By next year, they should be strong enough to be out in public.

So there you have it! A very, very long update on how the kids are doing. So many of you asked specifically for an update on the kids when you took the survey, and I have to tell you how very much that meant to me as a mom. That you all would still care so much about how they are doing even two years after they were born means the world to me. Sometimes I read back through comments that you all have left on previous posts and find them so encouraging on rough days.

Thank you for continuing to pray for and cheer my family on! 

42 comments:

  1. Michelle - New ZealandJanuary 20, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    That was a great post, it's good to hear how they are all doing! I tend to forget how much harder it is for premmies, they really do have a tough time catching up. I wish you all the best with the upcoming therapy :)

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    1. Thanks, Michelle! They have definitely had to work a little harder. I have high hopes that the speech therapy will help as well! Of course, then they will be able to talk and will probably never stop... :)

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    2. Yep, that's the goal of speech therapists, we getting them talking...then we hear parents say, they never stop. Yep, a job well done! ;-)

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  2. What a great update Bec!. Don't forget, You were waaay below the curve on the weight chart until you were over about 4 years old. They'll catch up in their own time. And yes,you feed them very well!

    Mama

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    1. I wish I still had that problem! Lol!

      I know they will catch up. I'm probably more fixated on it than most since weight was so important in the NICU. It would also be nice if their pants stayed up without me rolling the waistband. :)

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  3. Love your family! Praise God for amazing kiddos!!! Great job mom and dad!!! xoxo
    Love Kami Crisanti

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  4. Loved all the updates! Each one is so special and unique... now I know how to pray with more detail!

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    1. Thank you for continuing to pray for them, Mrs. Morgan! They are so precious...a lot of times I can't believe that they are actually ours! God is good!

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  5. What a great post and well done you for even finding the time to put that much detail into it!! :) It sounds like you have some babies who've done amazingly well and I'm sure will continue to do so.

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    1. It took me a couple of days to type it all out. Thanks for reading it!

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  6. Hey Beautiful Mama! :-)

    I LOVE reading updates like this one, 'cause it really shows me reality. Both in the "good and bad" senses. Like, I can see all of the ways that God has been working in these little lives even in their first 2 years. Things that might be overlooked or assumed in a "normal" situation I can see how important and amazing and miraculous these developmental stages are. And, also I can see that even though God has given you 4 amazing kiddos, and did it in such a crazy way (all at once ;-)), there are still significant challenges and hard things about doing it that crazy miraculous way. :) Thank you SO SO much for sharing your lives with us!! I love it!!!

    We got the official word on health insurance yesterday, so I am hopefully going to be able to go to the doc about my infertility issues. I am SO excited, but a little scared too. It's been 3.5 years of wondering why I don't have babies... but it's also been 3.5 years of NOT having babies, so if they CAN figure it out while I am ECSTATIC I am also scared, and if they caN'T then I'll be devastated. Craziness... This probably should have been an email rather than blog comment, but oh well. ;-) Love you!!

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    1. Hehe! No worries, Didi! I love blog comments of any length! :)

      Thank you for keeping up with us and reading through my long post!

      And I hope the doctor can give you some guidance on your infertility issues. It's a hard road to walk at times.

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  7. Thanks for the long (not really) update. It is so nice to see how they are doing and how individual each one is. Thanks for sharing that too. We love you all, and we'll keep praying for you.

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  8. You probably want to clarify the jumping with both fet leaving the ground milestone. After we talked, I brought this up at the developmental clinic and they told me that is a 3 year milestone.

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    1. Hmm...okay, I will. It did seem a little advanced to me, but the therapist has listed that as a milestone several times. But I'll double check to make sure.

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  9. I think that your little darlings are doing great! And they are probably right along with the development curve if you adjusted for them being premies. Thank you for the post - this is the best one yet.

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    1. Thanks for taking time to leave a comment! It helps me to know what you all like to read. :)

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  10. What a great updating post. I had been curious how your kiddos were doing, but didn't think to put it on the survey. I'm so glad to hear they are doing well overall, even though they do have a few things to catch up on. Thank you for sharing. :)

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  11. I love reading about other multiples! We had twins this year (yes, not a great comparison to your quads, lol) but it did add 4 children to our already 4 and 2 year old. One of our twins is just like your kiddos. He needs all the coaxing in the world to try to crawl. He's now 8 months old and would rather crawl his way (upside down on his head scooting with his bottom). --- I hate Winter lockdown! Hopefully you're not getting too bored! My friend has a website I use all the time called Toddler Boredom Busters. It's seriously a life saver when you have to stay at home all day. I love your blog and you are an awesome Mama! What kind of birthday theme are you doing this year? I know their birthday is coming up fast! : )

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    1. Ooo! Thank you for the tip on the website! I will most definitely have to check that out!

      Birthday theme: It's going to look a lot like last year's party. Little Monkey Bizness has invited us back for their second birthday, and we are excited to take them up on it!

      For the future though, I'd love to do a Candyland themed party, a Sugar and Spice/Snips and Snails party, or a Decorate Your Own Cupcake party!

      And congrats on adding to your family so recently! It sounds like fun at your house! :)

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  12. Glad to hear their all doing well for the most part! I love reading your posts and seeing pics of the kiddos. While my girls weren't labeled failure to thrive, they've both always been super skinny so I know the mnom guilt that comes along with those issues. Just remember, you're doing everything you can (and then some) to help them grow so now you just have to wait and be patient :)

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement! It's hard when I'm doing everything I can and they just refuse to gain weight. But as my mom keeps trying to tell me, I was below the curve until I was three, so maybe they just have my issues. :)

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    2. I loved reading about your babies. My son was born at 32 wks (even after 6 weeks of bedrest). We prayed to God so often that he would "just grow" ... God listened... he is now 14 and a very healthy minor hockey player, who is 2 inches taller than his mama!!

      Keep doing what you are doing! Your children are beautiful - I can see their personalities in their pictures. You're doing a fabulous job - so attentive and present - and you will, in time, (maybe when they're 2" taller than their mama) wonder why you worried. :)

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  13. Thank you for the updates. Yes, I read every detail thru the end. It seems like I should know more working with Sean but sometimes work doesn't allow for catching up on family. It is so heart warming to see their progress. You both are doing an amazing job. Joyce W.

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  14. Thank you so much for this update! I feel like in just two months, so much has changed! It happens in a blink. I will see you soon.

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    1. It does change so quickly! Looking forward to seeing you as well!

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  15. Absolutely loved the update!! It's awesome to hear you describe some of their developing personalities! Your family is so richly blessed. I really want to come visit sometime. Also, keep me posted on the new speech therapy with all of them! :-)
    -Rachel K.

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    1. We'd love to have you come by sometime! I'm very excited for speech therapy to start, so I will certainly update everyone about it!

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  16. I don't know you personally, but a friend of mine brought you all up as a prayer request 2 years ago and I have been checking in now and again to see how you are doing. My son is 17 months old so I frequent mommy blogs more than I used to and is is encouraging to read from a godly woman how you deal with everything God has given you. Thank you for updating with how the kids are doing! Will continue to pray for you all.

    Haha, I just read the comment above mine and am pretty sure your Rachel K. is my Rachel who brought you up for prayer in the first place!

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    1. Aw, thanks for sticking with us and praying for so long! That means SO much to me! I love reading mommy blogs too. It's so nice to find someone else who "gets it."

      And I definitely appreciate Rachel K passing us on as a prayer request! :-)

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  17. Thanks for the great update. I'm a bit late in reading it, but wanted to leave a comment anyway. I didn't get bored at all. In fact it was so interesting and informative. I loved that you updated us in detail about each child along with the picture. We miss seeing you at Church. Am looking forward to the Sunday you are able to get out again. Before and after they were born I was praying for Elijah specifically and I remember praying that he would have a sweet spirit and would get along well with his spiblings as well as others. God is so good and has answered that prayer. Keep up the good work.

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    1. God has definitely answered that prayer! Elijah is sweet to the core. Thank you so much for praying for him!

      We miss attending church as well. Looking forward to lockdown being over!

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  18. I found your blog through Money Saving Mom. Your kids sounds precious!

    I'm wondering if you ever tried the Anat Baniel method? It's a brain/body movement sort of therapy. I'm not affiliated with it at all---just have had success with my own family and also a cousin's baby (who has Spina Bifida) and is seeing great results. If you Google it, you should be able to read up on it and watch some videos.

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    1. I haven't ever heard of that method. Thank you so much for taking a minute to let me know about it! I'll definitely do some research on it to see if it might help my little ones out!

      Thanks for jumping over from Money Saving Mom to visit! :)

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  19. I just discovered your blog today from Moneysavingmom. Incredible story! What a wonderful, real, strong mom you are! Kris

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    1. Thank you for the kind compliment! I'm honored you would visit us through Money Saving Mom. I hope to see you around! :)

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  20. Saw one of your recipe posts on Pinterest and decided to click on this link as well. :) Glad I did. I haven't read all about the quads and how early they were, but I wanted to reach out to you. I'm a mom of twins who were born preemie at 33 weeks. They were both diagnosed FTT at 13 months and also had speech issues ("twin speak"). Today, they are 11.5 years old. We still deal with some issues from prematurity, and they are never going to be the biggest kids on the block. One weighs 50 lbs and the other 60 lbs. But, they are healthy and smart and the greatest blessings. Our current pediatrician has no issues with their size; they are who they are and have huge, healthy appetites. Keep up the good work! God bless!

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    1. Thank you SO much for commenting! It's always so encouraging to hear how other multiples and preemies develop as they get older! Yay! It gives me so much hope!

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to say something. Blessings to you and your family!

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