Monday, August 31, 2009

Grandpa Bob in the Land of Twins

My parents bought a van when I was in sixth grade, and I immediately commented on how clunky and enormous the thing was. I climbed into the back seat and envisioned riding along on the road, being the only teenager in an awful, massive, gas guzzling, RV/camper monstrosity. By the time we drove the van off the lot, I was convinced I was a member of the lamest family around. However, on that ride home, I began to notice something puzzling. There were several other vans on the road. In fact, there were tons of vans all through the traffic snarls we meandered that day. By the time I was home, I was no longer convinced that we were the lamest family around, only that there were a lot of lame-o's on the road that day.

Anyway, my van story illustrates a phenomenon that I find happening in my life once again. Once a reality is noted in your brain, from that moment on your mind will go out of it's way to note all the occurrences of that reality. Case in point: since Rachel gave birth to the twins, I have found other parents of twins at every turn. This morning in the doctor's office we waited next to a mother of eight-month-old twins in the waiting room. The stylist that cut my hair on Saturday, the crazy Asian lady who gave Rachel a pedicure last week, a woman in my MBA group, and a Navy co-worker: all parents of twins. Even last night, as I fed Malorie and watched the news, a story came on CNN about "The Land of Twins," an Argentinian village where ten percent of all births are twins (compared to one percent in the general population). Twins, like vans, are everywhere I tell you! Everywhere!

The simple truth is that the vans, and the twins for that matter, have been all around us from the start. All apologies to author Malcolm Gladwell, but there has been no Tipping Point here, I was always just too oblivious to notice. But once I did notice, and the veil was lifted, I got to see a new aspect of our American culture.

Also getting firsthand knowledge of the twin phenomenon is my father-in-law, Bob. He arrived Saturday to meet Micah and Malorie, and has been doting over them ever since. Micah decided to show off for Grandpa, so he lifted and turned his head for the first time during tummy-time. Malorie, ever the princess, just likes to be held by Grandpa and look adorable. And now it's Bob, the first time Grandfather, who is becoming keen to another aspect of parenthood. This morning, while he was reading his newspaper, Grandpa Bob stumbled across a picture of tennis star Roger Federer that under normal circumstances, he likely would have ignored. However, the new grandfather of twins took note of Federer, who was holding his children, a set of twins. Consider another veil lifted.

Beards for Babies is beginning to taper off, but if you are still inclined, the donation page is still active from the link on the upper right of the page. Just click on my bearded face, read our story, and then donate some money to the very worthy Wolfson's Children's Hospital NICU. As for Mal-staches, they just keep poring in, so I'll keep posting them. These are the children of my co-worker I spoke of above, Forrest Pendleton and his lovely wife Shannon. They are sporting the pencil thin Mal-stache, made popular by villains since the turn of the century. Nobody let these kids near a train, because if they can find pistols or a bandana, they may just hold that train up.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chaos is the Word

I remember the first time I heard the word Chaos. It was the name of a comic book character in a Sega video game my friend Cliff and I rented. That character turned everything around him into disarray, a fevered frenzy of activity that could not be admired unless slowed down by the slow motion replay feature of the game. I thought chaos was neat.

Chaos is actually anything but neat. Chaos has turned my bedroom into a chemistry lab where I combine beakers of human milk and Enfamil, and then try to get a tiny creature to eat it without throwing it back up onto my face. Chaos has made my spare bedroom into a late night dumping ground for tiny laundry soiled with pee, poop, vomit, or any combination therein. Chaos has turned my mother-in-law into a short order cook and wife and me into zombies at times. We couldn't be happier for chaos, but it is surely not neat.

I guess chaos might seem like a strong term to you - it implies lack of structure. Actually, we have structure. There is a recipe for our mayhem, and we follow it well. There have just been fires to stomp out every little while over the course of the first week. Here is a sample of one of our three hour cycles.

1:55 a.m: I wake Micah and take him to change his diaper prior to feeding. Rachel prepares bottles for supplemental feedings.

1:59 a.m: While having his lower half raised to clean his backside, Micah pees on his own shirt and face, necessitating change of clothes. Rachel comes into the room to see what is taking so long.

2:04 a.m: Micah begins nursing. I tell Rachel to wake me if she needs anything.

2:05 a.m: Rachel wakes me to tell me that Micah is farting a lot.

2:10 a.m: Rachel and I decide to nickname Micah. He will now be referred to as Fester, for his strong resemblance to Fester Adams.

2:20 a.m: I wake Malorie and take her to change her diaper prior to feeding.

2:22 a.m: Rachel comes to the changing table carrying a screaming Fester. He has burped up milk and needs to be changed prior to continuing his meal. She leaves with Malorie.

2:25 a.m: Malorie begins nursing by pursing her lips and arching her back to reject the boob as I give Fester his bottle.

2:30 a.m: Rachel and I nickname Malorie. She is now called Mal Pal, because it rhymes and it's tough to be creative at this hour. Mal Pal has now decided to take the milk, but not because we want her to, only because she wants it.

2:32 a.m: Mal Pal falls asleep nursing.

2:33 a.m: Mal Pal cries because Rachel used a wet cloth to wake her back up.

2:50 a.m: I ask Rachel if we can watch Sportscenter. I tell her Mal Pal might want an update on the National League wild card standings. Request denied.

2:52 a.m: Rachel begins bottle feeding Mal Pal. I can't take her because I can't get Fester to burp.

3:00 a.m: I decide Fester must not need to burp since he hasn't done so yet, and so I return him to his crib and take Mal Pal, who is now sleeping again. I reintroduce the idea of Sportscenter as Rachel begins to pump. Request denied.

3:03 a.m: Fester burps up milk all over his bassinet. Rachel now takes Malorie, who we will no longer call Mal Pal because we are tired and annoyed. We still call Micah Fester because it is a slightly demeaning nickname and he is causing us extra work. Tyson leaves the room in disgust.

3:10 a.m: Fester's in new clothes, bed linens are replaced and Malorie is finishing her bottle. All is right with the world, except I don't know who won the Dodgers-Rockies game.

3:15 a.m: Malorie and Micah are now back in the bassinet asleep. Rachel restarts the extraction. I write down feeding information into our log and then go to get a piece of cake from the fridge because if Rachel won't let me watch Sportscenter, I will punish her by getting fat. In addition to creativity, logic also apparently not my strong suit at this hour.

3:35 a.m: Rachel wraps up the pumping and goes to clean the materials. I take product to fridge and return to find Malorie fussing in crib.

3:45 a.m: We get Malorie settled and returned to bed. Tyson, somehow knowing the entire evolution is nearing an end, returns to the bedroom and promptly attempts to take my spot in the bed as I set the alarm for 4:55 a.m.

OK, so not every evolution goes quite this rough. But, not every evolution goes quite this well either. All I will say is that Rachel and I are tired, frustrated at times, and absolutely loving every minute of the chaos. It has already given us reason to laugh, cry and yell at each other - but it has also given us a stockpile of memories: First time holding both babies at once, first doctor visit, first bath, first family picture, gifts, baby songs and nicknames galore. Now we just have to figure out how to work the slow motion replay feature of life so we can marvel at it all. Never mind, no time for that... the alarm is going off.

As for Beards for Babies, the charity is still plugging along. On Monday I was informed that the total was up to $565 in online donations. Thanks for all the great support, and keep it coming to the deserving people at Wolfson's NICU. As for the Mal-stache of the day, we have my friend Jimmy and his son Ethan modeling the Yosimite Sam Mal-stache, common in parts of South Dakota, the Dominican Republic, and seedy 1980's movies. Lookin' good gents, lookin' good.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fashionably Late

There are several traits my daughter inherited from me. She has my dark hair, my worry wrinkles on her forehead and the same birth frame I came out on - a long skinny body that is all arms and legs. However, that is not to say she got nothing from her mom. She certainly inherited Rachel's tendency to run a bit late. She likes to wait to eat until a few minutes after her brother, and she preferred to come home a day later as well. We'll just say she wanted to make her own entrance. That's right, Malorie came home today!

This morning, after running through our overnight routine for the first time with Micah, I got up to take my Master's classes finals via the Internet. While I was busy flunking Finance, Rachel got Micah fed and then hitched a ride to the hospital to nurse Malorie. When she arrived, the doctor told her, "She is still a lazy eater, but she's holding her temperature, and has no gastrointestinal problems. I see no reason to keep her here. I have made an appointment for you to go see your pediatrician first thing Monday morning."

Rachel called to interrupt my final with the best question I had been posed all day, "What time do you want to come pick up your daughter?" We got Malorie home mid-afternoon, and again I will let the pictures do the talking. We loved having her meet her brother for the first time in over a week, and we are busy establishing a feed/wake/sleep routine for the twins. I'll let you all know when that is done... probably in about 18 years.

As for the beard, this photo will be it's defining moment. If I were a March Madness videographer, I would play "One Shining Moment" for my triumphant beard. Alas, I am not, so I am going to let Micah and Malorie feel it tomorrow morning and then unceremoniously shave it off. Unsentimental, I know, but the thing makes my face feel as if it were rubbed in that Pink Panther fiberglass insulation.

I would like to invite anyone who is fashionably late like my baby girl to contribute to Beards for Babies benefiting The Wolfson's Children's Hospital NICU. Our ten day odyssey is over, but there are plenty more parents who are there, hurting just like Rachel and I were. Our situation was never grave, and is by no means unique, but I am proud that before my babies even came home from the hospital, they were able to inspire people to do some good in this world. Thanks for helping us do that for them. I will continue to put up Mal-staches as long as they keep rolling in. So feel free to shave yours off, but before you do, send a picture to me at This one comes to us from my second Godson, Kaileb. It's not often you see a six month old rocking a soul patch. Great work, buddy.

Thank you all again for all your prayers, wonderful thoughts, and time spent reading about my kids. Stay tuned for less frequent, but equally irreverent and thought-provoking posts in the future.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Homecoming King

My favorite band is Guster. They have this great song on their fourth album named "Homecoming King," and it's all about... Ah, skip the mildly amusing anecdote tonight. MICAH CAME HOME!!!

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, so have fun reading all that is said by these pics. We are thoroughly excited to have him home so I will not waste much time writing words. By the way, the beard scratch happening in the second picture is unintentional. That thing itches as if it were made of poison oak.

Mal is on an open crib and has maintained her temperature well so far. She has 24 more hours of observation left and if she can eat well and stay warm without setbacks, she will get to meet her brother for the first time soon. If she does stumble, Grandma Judy has promised to bake her a cake with a nail file in it to bust her out of the jail... err, I mean hospital.

There have been some great Mal-staches rolling in over the past few days so I had to make today's "Mal-stache of the Day" a montage. Here is my mom, my wonderful sister Maggie, their dog Belle and my brother Mike modeling the "scrub-type Mal-stache.". This variation of 'stache is typically found in Midwestern trailer parks, Nickleback concerts and Neon Lighted Bowling Alleys. Please continue all the great support, both via Mal-staches and donations to Wolfsons's NICU. My beard will come off when my baby girl gets home. Then we can all talk about another one of my favorite Guster songs, "Two at a Time."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stinky and Burpo

Remember the Marx Brothers? You know, the classic slapstick film actors who made dozens of movies and shorts. Well, they all had cool nicknames that described their personalities. There was Groucho, who was the master of quips and one-liners. And Harpo, who said nothing but used sounds to describe his moods. There was Wacko, and Karl and Richard as well... OK, so I think that Wacko was an Animaniac, and Karl was a revolutionary, and Richard was a silky-smooth soft rock virtuoso with a stone washed denim jacket and flowing locks of wavy hair.

Anyway, today prompted me to give my two NICU cuties Marx Brothers nicknames to describe their personalities. Malorie was dubbed Stinky, mostly because she stunk. The poor girl is still in the incubator, and needs all the heat her little body can generate. So, she had not been allowed to bathe in several days, because she would lose precious heat. Dimples over there finally did get a bath early this morning, but her incubator still smelled like week old formula. Regardless, Mal had a great day and really seems to have made some gains in her feedings. She is still without her NG tube, and is being slowly weened off the incubator with hopes that she will be ready for open crib test attempt number four tomorrow.

Burpo is the moniker I gave to Micah, who is incredibly difficult to burp. You can sit with him for ten minutes patting and rubbing his back, shifting positions and rubbing his head with no burp. Then, as soon as you lay him in his crib, he rips off a mammoth wet burp that requires changing his clothes. He has done this to me. He has done this to Rachel. And he has done this to several nurses. The best news of the day concerns ole Burpo, who has gone almost 48 hours without any significant health incidents. He is eating well, staying warm, and breathing on his own. The nurses asked us to bring in his car seat for a test overnight and ordered his circumcision - two sure signs that he is close to coming home.

On the home front, Rachel and her mother were in paradise after fellow twin mother Beth dropped off a big box of premie clothes. The girls gushed over just about every outfit. The entire scene was so sweet I think I got a cavity in a tooth just watching it. If I were to give myself a Marx Brothers name, it would be Itchy; because my beard feels like an infuriating swarm of mosquitoes. Finally, our pal Tyson has been waiting for the kids arrival for 8 days now. He has been wearing this Big Brother shirt the whole time, which is beginning to border on animal cruelty.

As for Beards for Babies, I was contacted by a Wolfson's Children's Hospital representative today who told me that $450 has come in during the first 24 hours in online donations alone. Please keep up the incredible support for this worthy cause, and spread the word. This NICU and the staff here are saving lives of wonderful babies everyday, just like Micah's and Malorie's. Finally, the Mal-stache of the Day comes from my Godson Jackson and his father, my Navy buddy Paul. Come to think of it, Jackson has long flowing hair, and as far as I remember he has a silky smooth voice... someone get this child a denim jacket and teach him to sing "Right Here Waiting," I have found mustachioed Richard Marx reincarnate!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No Swines For Mines

Busy day at the NICU, but all you need to know upfront is that the worker who contracted an influenza virus was negative for H1N1. Some of the restrictions that have been in place for days will be lifted for Micah, including the use of masks. He will remain in isolation because of the flu and MRSA exposure, but we are fine with that. As long as he doesn't get sick, we can deal with scares.

Malorie had a strong day today in support of her little brother. She yanked out her own NG tube this morning, and the nurses decided not to replace it unless she doesn't take a feeding. I am happy to report that she has taken all of her feedings today, three feedings via nursing and one from a bottle, and is still sans tube. She gained about an ounce since yesterday, and should she not regress, is one step closer to coming home. She also disgraced me by allowing herself to be dressed in this garish St. Louis Cardinals bib. She has been spending way too much time with her mother. Notice my face, breaking contact with the camera lens. I learned that passive resistance technique from a P.O.W. documentary I watched on PBS. After the bib came off, I sang her "Go Cubs Go" to reverse the brainwashing that had just occurred.

Micah celebrated being free from the stigma of swine flu by pooping all over himself, and then peeing on me while I was trying to change his diaper. The kid is just plain great - can't talk, chase women or drive and yet still finds ways to embarrass me in public. He was able to make his first attempt at nursing tonight, and was awesome at it from the start. They have relaxed the "no touching" rule for Rachel, provided she goes home and showers after contact, so we will make Micah's breast feeding the last of the day. Micah and Malorie also got pictures of their siblings in their cribs today, and Micah is fascinated by looking at his big sis.

Rachel, while secluded from me over the last few days, has developed such a strong bond with the nurses caring for Malorie that they brought my girl a present today. Julie and Mary bought six onesies for Malorie to wear, and were wonderful enough to include six outfits for Micah as well, even though they have never been assigned to care for him. Again, it is a testament to what wonderful people work in Wolfson's NICU.

We are thankful for a day where no crazy new maladies popped up, and that our kids are working hard to come home. Now, I am exhausted from several consecutive long days and restless nights. I'm done thinking about H1N1 for the night. In fact, I would declare a swine free childhood for my kids if it weren't for Charlotte's Web, Miss Piggy and bacon.
Our first ever "Mal-Stache of the Day" comes from my great friend Pickle. He got a head start because he lives in Texas, and mustaches are mandatory in Texas. Thanks for the kind thoughts, encourage everyone out there to keep giving and growing terrible facial hair like this.

Micah's Daddy's Beard and Mal-Staches (How You Can Help)

I have discussed at length Micah's potential H1N1 problems, and his subsequent quarantine. I am delighted to report that he has shown no signs of sickness as of yet, and we find out tonight if the worker was positive for Swine flu or a different Type A virus. In the meantime, Rachel and I have been working with our good friend Nicole to start "Micah's Daddy's Beard." I decided that if I can't have skin to skin contact with my son until he comes home, I wanted to give him something special to look forward to. So, I will not shave my face until both my babies come home.

So, here is where you all come in... Rachel and I promise to keep everyone updated on the kids, make learning about their adventures as fun and educational as possible and to post a video of Micah's first encounter with my grotesque beard. In return, I'd like to ask each of you who are able, to make a donation under Micah and Malorie Klug's names to the Wolfson's Children's Hospital NICU. Click on the following link, then click "Donate Now." Or you can feel free send checks to the following address.

Wolfson's Children's Hospital
841 Prudential Drive
Suite 1300
Jacksonville, FL 32207

Please ensure you specify in either a personal note or the memo line of the check that the donation is for Micah and Malorie Klug, so it will count towards the grand total raised. You can also donate through a link on Nicole's website, We will tally the totals after the kids come home, and post it here as well as on Nicole's website. If you ar so inclined, invite your friends, co-workers, aquaintances and your Great Aunt Laverne to give as well.

For anyone else who would like to join in my follicular crusade, I'd like to challenge you to grow a "Mal-stache." That is my unbelievably clever/cheesy name for a mustache or beard that you will grow until the kids come home. Think of it as the play at home version of Micah's Daddy's Beard. Every day you look in the mirror and decide not to shave, and every time someone comments on your brand new facial hair, you will be reminded to think and pray about the brand new babies who are struggling to survive. Sorry to the girls out there, you probably will not be very good at this game. Once the kids come home, you can email me pics of your Mal-stache and I will post them on the blog. Girls, feel free to make fake mustaches for the pics - ingenuity is not cheating.

I know Rachel and my situation is not ideal, but we are all right and so are the twins. We are fortunate to live close enough to the hospital to visit daily, and have Rachel's mother and a terrific support network helping us locally right now. There are other parents, and more importantly very sick babies that need the help you all are offering. We want to make sure these sweet babies can benefit from all of your generosity, kind thoughts and prayers. Thanks in advance for all your gifts of donations, kind words, and for helping me distract myself and Rachel from our current situation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reporting on the Front Lines, From the Sidelines

Rachel and I just got home from visiting the babies in the hospital. I am still trying to work out some details on my mission that I discussed earlier today, so please be patient. I will have it up soon.

Today we split the visits up, with Rachel and her mom spending the day with Malorie to facilitate nursing, and me sitting with my buddy Micah. Rachel got to come over to tell Micah goodnight, and I gave Mal a big good morning hug and kiss, but aside from that we were separated all day.

The H1N1 test results are expected back tomorrow night. Several parents, ourselves obviously included, are praying that the worker tests negative. Should that happen, we may get a relaxed policy on the quarantine, but no one is getting their hopes up quite yet. Oblivious to the hoopla that surrounds him, Micah is making great strides. He quietly ditched the oxygen tube and IV tube for a while, but was back on the O2 by the end of the day. He had only one Brady episode today, but is still struggling with desats. Yet another blow for Micah today was that he tested positive for the MRSA bacteria. I will not spend time addressing this bug that causes staph infections, mostly because Rachel and I are still doing our homework on it. However, we do know that just because Micah tested positive, doesn't mean he has an active infection. He will be treated with antibiotics for the next five days, and kept in quarantine. Following his release, whenever that may be, he will have a low immune system and may be a carrier for the bacteria, and therefore will not be visiting anyone other than family for a while.
Malorie is still just as cute as a baby doll, and is getting stronger now that she is back in an incubator. They finally got a tube that would go down her nose last night after we left, and she has been alternating bottle feedings and tube feedings. Today she had a very positive nursing session with Rachel, and we are hoping for more progress tomorrow. She tested negative for the MRSA strain, but will likely be exposed once she comes into contact with her brother. Again, exposure does not mean infection, so we are researching information about proactive measures to keep her, and her little bitty immune system safe.

Rachel is coping well. We appreciate all the calls and well wishes that have been streaming our way, but I'd like to reiterate that right now is a very chaotic and stressful time. If you'd like to contact us, please post a comment on the blog, as we read the comments nightly (Glad to see you on there Mom and Grandpa). If you need to talk with us sooner, please send us a text message, and we will return it when able.

I'd also like to give a quick thanks to Nicole, Jenna, Natalie and Kat, who have all had a hand in posting updates for my family this past week. Your help, and more importantly your friendship, is invaluable to us.
Here is a quick link from WebMD concerning MRSA that Rachel and I found very helpful.

Fighting Back

*The following post was just emailed to me (Nicole) from Billy. He asked that I post it for you all so that you are updated.*

As I lay awake last night, agonizing over not being there for my children while I was there for my wife, I struggled to find a way to put a positive light on our utterly bogus situation. I told you, I need to feel like I am fighting back. Sure, I now have to wear a freakin spaceman suit to see my son, but things could be so much worse. Every time we walk through the NICU we see parents hanging on to hope. Catheters, respirators, IVs and incubators replace baseball, Britney Spears and American Idol as the topics of conversation. Rachel only looks straight ahead now because we have seen enough resuscitations. People hang on every beep that comes out of the plethora of machines that are hooked onto the babies, craning their neck to the right to see if their child is the next one the nurses will rush to.
The way of life is tough, with extreme highs and lows daily. The medical staffers work long hours dealing with difficult work. I used to think my job was important. Now I know how silly I can be. The parents are resilient, hopeful and more stressed out by the minute. So many others are worse off than Rachel and me. We should get our kids out in a few days, maybe weeks. Malorie's roommate Abe has been here for over three months.
I have come up with a way to make something good come from our time here, and plan on unveiling it later today. For all of you who have asked what you can do to help, I'm here to say that Rach and I don't need food, phone calls or visits right now. Please just check the blog later today for how you can help Mal, Micah and some other really terrific kids here in the NICU.


That is the sound that someone makes when they are punched in the gut... right in the stomach and all the air comes whooshing out, doubling them over in pain and making tears swell up in their eyes. That is a noise I feel very familiar with tonight.

Tonight we learned that our five day old son Micah has come into secondary contact with a serious strain of the influenza virus. He is in quarantine in the NICU, and will have to remain there for at least the next ten days. Anytime we want to see him, we have to put on a surgical gown, mask and gloves. He is allowed no skin contact with anyone during his time in quarantine, and what's worse is that once we have been in Micah's room, we are no longer allowed to go see his sister, Malorie, for the rest of the day.

I want to stress to all of our families and friends that Micah is not sick. However, a health care professional treated his roommate, and then went home sick. Today, that health care professional came down with a Type A flu, and is now being tested to see if it is the H1N1 or any other strain of Type A flu. The hospital administrator who spoke with us told us that if Micah is going to get sick, he will likely do so in the next 3-5 days.

Obviously this news is devastating to us. Our child is not ill, and we thank God with all our hearts for that. However, we are now faced with several days of fear, anxiety and tension. Every time he sneezes or burps up some milk we will wonder if it is the first signs. We have been praying for him to keep his body temp up. Now we will pray he does not run a fever. We can not touch him, stroke his face, hug him or kiss him goodnight without a barrier. For at least the next ten days, every time he reaches out to grab my finger, all he will feel is latex. And then, we are left to wonder if we are putting his sister at risk just by being near him.

If that news weren't hard enough, Malorie was unable to maintain her body temp, and has gone back onto the warming bed. This time, it will be for at least a few days. She was not taking full meals and began to fight against the bottle. When it came time to weigh her, she had dropped too much of her precious little weight, and so she was given an NG tube. After several failed attempts to place the tube, the nurse concluded that the smallest tube available was still just too large to make it down her tiny nose. The ideal placement for the tube now out of the picture, it was instead inserted through her mouth. Now, she will be offered a bottle, but if she resists or is unable to eat her minimum amount of milk, the milk will be pumped into her stomach.

Finally, Rachel was discharged from the hospital today. She is still recovering from her Cesarean section delivery, and obviously distraught about coming home empty handed. Pile on top of that the news about each child, and the possible infection caused by an unforeseen metal allergy to the staples used on her incision, and is hurting literally and figuratively. All of the good vibes from this morning have seemed to just vaporize like dew off the morning grass. If you haven't made the "ooooooof" sound yet, feel free to do so now.

OK, now that we all have that out of our systems... Tomorrow is a new day. Rachel, her mother and I will wake up and praise God for all the wonderous blessings He has given us, and will then support each other through what will likely be a difficult day. However, I am convinced that tomorrow will be a better day, because where I come from, you can only get punched in the stomach so many times before you start to fight back.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Good Morning

Everyone in the Klug Crew is on a bit of a high this morning, with both kids having a great Monday so far. I've been scarfing the cookies Chris sent, sometimes for breakfast because I'm a grown up, and grown ups can have cookies for breakfast if they want. Do you see the wild look in my eyes? If you see a man that looks like this wandering the halls of your hospital at 3 a.m, get him a cookie.
Rachel gets discharged from the hospital today and her milk is starting to come in. She is feeling really top-heavy, and asked me to feel her chest... in front of her mom. That wasn’t weird at all for me (heavy sarcasm there folks). She has lost all modesty in front of the nurses as well, often leading me to comment that our hospital room is like a Girls Gone Wild commercial. Although neither child will likely be going home with us today, we are both optimistic that Mal will be home very soon.

Speaking of our cold-blooded cutie, she finally passed her open crib test, meaning that she is off of the incubator bed. Third time seems to have been a charm, as she has held her body temp steady all night. She struggled to take a full feeding throughout the night last night, and kept falling asleep while trying to feed. I think her body was worn out from keeping herself warm for the first time. Anyway, she had emptied a bottle this morning at 8, so all hopes are that she will continue to feed well today and come home soon.

As for mighty Micah, he has been off of the oxygen tube for over 12 hours now and breathing great, and is maintaining his body temp as well. He has taken all his feedings like a champ, and is going to be a veritable wildman once he gets to nurse. However, he is still fighting the Brady’s (explained yesterday), as well as having some low oxygen saturation problems. The nurses call it a “Desat” every time the level of oxygen in his blood falls below a certain percentile. I took a video yesterday to try to help explain it all, so you can watch it below, as it might help you all to understand if you can see what we see here. They have him sleeping in a box top bed to reduce noises and put a cover over it to reduce the light, because they think his problems with the Brady’s and Desat's may be a product of being over-stimulated by all the new experiences. The nurses have informed us that Micah will need to stop having any Brady’s and Desat’s for a few days before he will be able to come home.

Rachel told me this post is good because it is, “Short, and to the sweet.” Based on her feedback, I’d say she probably doesn’t need any more Percocet for a while. But I'll take another cookie please.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Scrub In For Updates

Every time we go to see the babies in the NICU, we have to "scrub in." "Scrubbing In" reminds me of the doctor shows on TV where all the doctors and nurses have fascinating conversations about cars, women and football, and then go operate on a patient. Here, we have to start a timer, then wet our hands and open a sanitary packet. Inside the packet is a half sponge, half skin-ripper-offer that we use to forcefully brush our skin from hands up to elbows. After the three minute timer is over, we can rinse and go see our babies. I have scrubbed in roughly 1.7 million times since Thursday, and I have yet to hear any fascinating conversations about cars, women or football. Mostly, people just talk about how cold the water is or how their baby is doing.

Speaking of how the babies are doing, Micah is an eating machine! He has responded well to feedings, and is now up to taking 30 ml per feed, just like his big sister. Here he is having a bit of skin-on-skin bonding time with Rachel, as he is not quite ready for nursing. Despite his successes in feeding, he is still fighting in some other areas. He did not maintain his body temp in the open crib test, so he will remain on the warming bed for another day, and he has also had several episodes of bradycardia. Bradycardia, or "Brady's" as they are referred to in the NICU, are short periods of slow heart rate. It is relatively common in premature babies, but nonetheless a setback. Micah will remain in the NICU until he can shake the Brady's - he has already had about five today. Since he is battling the Brady's, he will remain on oxygen despite an acceptable respiration rate.

Malorie is again trying to become the first Klug twin to pass the open crib test. This is her third day in a row attempting the test. My cold-blooded princess is sleeping all bundled up like a snow bunny; dreaming of butterflies, Jonas Brothers and prom night while trying to stay warm. She has been a reluctant feeder, but after two disappointing feeding sessions last night, she came around and took 44 ml from me at about 2 am. That saved her from having to be tube fed. She is being pokey about eating again today, but we are still hoping to keep her from getting the G-tube. The nurses think she may be tired from trying to nurse with Rachel, but are encouraging us to keep up our efforts, as Mal will eventually come around and by then she will already have good nursing habits.

Finally, my buddy Micah wore his first clothes today. He decided to wear a Cubs onesie since the Cubs had won two games in a row, cheering the team to go for a sweep of the Pirates. Dad approved of his outfit choice, and sang him, "Go Cubs Go."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Here I Come to Save the Day

Do you know how in the movies, at just the moment when all seems lost, the hero comes riding in on a proverbial white stead and saves the day... Well, apparently sometimes the hero rides into town on a Boeing M-90 non-stop flight from St. Louis. Grandma Finck arrived today, and none too soon to help Rachel and me split time between our beautiful daughter and tough little son. They are still in opposite wings in the NICU, and it is very tough to leave either of them, because once you are there you never want to leave their side. Anyway, Grandma is here, and now she can help us to find time for ourselves and not feel guilty for leaving the kids alone down in the NICU.

She got to meet both babies today, and got to see them both with their eyes wide open. Malorie showed Grandma her dimples, and Micah got held by Grandma Finck for a few minutes.

Both babies made great strides today as well, as if to show off for their Grandma. The big news of the day for Micah was that he got to eat his first meal. He had 9 ml of formula, and wolfed it down like a man possessed. Also, the heat in Micah's bed has been shut off because he can sustain his own body heat. he is still on oxygen for the time being, but may get a chance to try to come off of it again tonight, as his respiration rate has held within acceptable limits for most of the day.

Malorie passed her hearing test and her car-seat test today - two major landmarks showing that a baby is nearing being able to come home. Unfortunately, she is still fighting to stay warm, and is back on the heated bed. She will be re-evaluated in the morning to see if there may be something other than weight preventing her from maintaining her body heat. She is also being a difficult feeder, taking very slow, lazy gulps. If she does not start eating better, she may have to be tube fed to ensure nutrition, but we are hoping it doesn't come to that. OK, it's off to make the nightly rounds, hope to update the blog more tomorrow.

Malorie and the Mammary

Today Rachel and Mal are perfecting the art of pretending to nurse. Actually, they are bonding and working very hard to establish good nursing habits for Mal, so that she can exclusively nurse once Rachel’s milk comes in. We have been down twice today for her feedings, and will continue to try to be present to either bottle feed or nurse her throughout the rest of her stay in the NICU.

She is now wearing her first outfit her dad bought her, which is a purple butterfly nightgown and hat. She seems to be maintaining her body temp, and so the incubator she has been staying in has been turned off. She is still attached to a temp probe for the next few hours, and if she can sustain on her own, she will be moved from the incubator to a crib.

By the way, if anyone knows what the punishment is for slugging a registered nurse, please let me know. Because, if Malorie’s nurse makes one more condescending comment to Rachel, she may be eating a BK Knuckle Sandwich for lunch. It isn’t even noon and the woman has made Rach cry twice. She is just a bit too overwhelmingly smug and know-it-all for us today. By the way, every other nurse we have dealt with has been an angel, and we can not begin to express our appreciation for them. Debra, Liza, Veronica and Jill, you are all wonderful. The other nurse can bite a big one.

As for Micah, he had a great night, and consistently kept his respiration rate in normal levels. I got to go sit with him late last night and then again for a while overnight. He gets his first bath later today, and may even get to come off oxygen for a while again today. If he does get to come off the O2, and he does keep his respiration rate at a good level, then he may even get to have his first meal! If Micah can stay off the oxygen permanently, he will become Malorie’s roommate in the level II NICU.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My New Favorite Micah Moment

Last night I got to go down and hold my son for over an hour while Rachel rested up in the room. She had just gotten to feed Malorie, and so I was feeling a little left out, and went down for some male bonding time. Micah’s nurse was the same woman as the night before, so she allowed me to change him and take his temperature, since she had already taught me how. Then I got to hold him.

When I held him, I was striving to keep talking and touching him, reassuring him that I was there and loved him. As the hour wore on, I was searching for more things to say, so I started talking about one of the things I know well, Cubs baseball.

I decided to take him around the horn, and teach him about the Cubs starting infield. I started at first base, with the Cubs captain and my favorite player, Derek Lee. I told him how Lee is a great hitter, both for power and average, and how he is a Gold Glove winning defender. I also told him what a stand-up guy he is, and I hope he learned that even people who seem to have everything can still manage to keep humble. I then proceeded to tell him about Aramis Ramirez, the clutch hitting All Star third baseman who is suffering through a miserable, injury plagued season. My hope is that he gleaned that even the best have a rough time occasionally. Then I told him about the catchers, Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill. I told him how Hill accidentally sawed off three fingers on his throwing hand in an accident a few years ago, and yet still manages to throw out forty percent of runners trying to steal on him, in hopes that Micah would learn that no one will ever feel sorry for him and so he must be strong despite his handicaps and mistakes. We also chatted about Soto, the National League Rookie of the Year last year who now finds himself just fighting for playing time, to teach him that nothing is guaranteed in this world. Next I moved onto shortstop, and Ryan Theriot. I told him how Theriot does nothing exceptionally but plays hard everyday and thus has become a fan favorite. My hope is that he recognizes the need to give his all, and then good things will come.

Finally, I started describing second base for the Cubs. I was searching for a positive thing to say about the Jeff Baker/Mike Fontenot/Aaron Miles platoon. I was dying to find a lesson in describing Baker, a middling prospect who is barely hitting his weight. And I was working hard to give a positive spin to Fontenot, a player who is better used off the bench than as a starter. And I was just trying not to curse when thinking about Aaron Miles, who I would like to see the Cubs trade for a bag of sunflower seeds and a pair of sneakers. It was then that Micah summed up my thoughts exactly by letting loose a monstrous, gassy poop. It was in Micah’s thunder-dump that I realized he had just taught me the best way to describe the Cubs pitiful second base play. How a child who has not eaten anything in his life found something to poop is beyond me, but all I can say is good talk, Micah, good talk. I’m glad you like baseball too.

Klugs - Party of Four

I'm back home from the Internet free zone known as Baptist Hospital to get some clothes for Malorie. As we speak, her first ten years allowance worth of clothes are being dried to take to her in the NICU. She is still having problems maintaining her body temperature because of her size, so the nurse said that some nice nighties and long sleeved body suits would be a must once she goes off the incubator. So, daddy ran to the nearest Babies R' Us and bought out the store of "premie" sized long sleeved stuff, and will be bringing her the loot in a few. Rachel got to breast feed Mal at 11 and will give another shot at 5. There was not much feeding going on, but there was plenty of bonding, and the seeds of the encounter will last in both mother and daughter for a long time.

As for Micah, he had a chest X-ray to see if there was anything that may be keeping him from breathing correctly, such as mucus, fluid or an obstruction of the lungs. Luckily the X-ray was negative, and so the doctors still believe all his troubles are just developmental. He is maintaining his core temp just fine, and is actually getting some tummy time in his bed in the NICU. Since the nurses are there non-stop and he is getting straight oxygen pumped straight into his lungs, there is really no risk to placing him on his stomach. Still no food for Mighty Micah, but he sure does show the signs of hunger. As soon as he can stabilize his breathing on his own he will be given the bottle or the breast.

Finally, I want to thank the great many well wishers and visitors we have had over the past 36 hours. Major thanks to Natalie, Kelleigh, Kat, Sheryl, Pastor Bob and Jodi for stopping by, many of them with more gifts than just their love. To Chris, Keith, Nicola and Kirsten, thanks for the gifts from afar. The bouquets is lovely, the mobile is perfect and the cookies will be my all-nighter power food. Finally, to all the family, friends and readers of Nicole's awesome blog - your prayers and support astound Rachel and me. My fingers can not text fast enough to reply to all of you, but please know your kind words, positive thoughts and supportive prayers have meant more than you'll ever know. It is people like you who give us the power to be strong in difficult times. OK, time to go see my wife and babies.