‘Tis the Season (for sneezing & wheezing)

Before our babies were born, we started taking precautions to protect their fragile respiratory systems.  All newborns are susceptible to respiratory illness such as the flu, RSV, and pneumonia, but preemies are at an even greater risk, and when they become ill it is often severe.   George and I both received our flu and tDAP vaccines, and asked anyone who wanted to visit the babies during the first year to do the same.  After the babies’ birth we were diligent about things such as hand washing, not wearing shoes inside, staying away from people who had been sick, and not taking the babies into public.  Though difficult, our efforts proved successful.  We did not have a sick visit for any of the babies until after their first year, and have had only a handful in their four years of life.  After a seven week NICU stint, we had no hopes of returning.

Last month, our healthy track record was blemished.  The kids all demonstrated allergy symptoms: runny noses, drainage coughs, and itchy/ watery eyes, but all went to bed seemingly healthy.   The next morning, both George and I left for work early while the kids slept and my mom babysat.  About halfway into my commute, Mom called telling me Sydney was having a hard time breathing.  I presumed her allergies were worsening and she just needed Zyrtec, but I called the pediatrician and got an early appointment anyways.  Because my workday was booked with meetings, I sent George back home to take Sydney.  During my meeting, texts starting pinging and I started struggling with not being there.  Sydney had a nebulizer treatment for low blood oxygen something in the 70’s.  I remained hopeful the nebulizer was all she needed.  After a second treatment, things weren’t improving.  With two liters of oxygen Sydney’s oxygen saturation was only in the 80’s.  This meant an ambulance ride to the emergency room.  Feeling helpless, I rushed to the ER to meet the ambulance, but I beat it by nearly an hour.  I knew she was in good hands, but waiting to meet your child at the ER is painstaking.  As Sydney’s gurney wheeled through the waiting room, I knew she felt awful.  She barely noticed me.  Her face was pale and she appeared limp as she clutched a small tan-colored teddy.

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My usually garrulous little girl sat silently in bed as nurses buzzed about her room. After having an X-ray and multiple lab panels run, we waited for answers.  Sydney dozed off trying to steal some rest as the hours passed.   Meanwhile, my mom dutifully held down the fort at home.

Before the dinner hour, Sydney’s attending physician came in with the final result: pneumonia.  Though her symptoms presented as pneumonia, it was somewhat surprising considering she hadn’t been sick prior.  No fever, no changes in appetite or sleep.  Just mild allergies.  There are two types of pneumonia: community acquired (e.g. contagious resulting from infection in public place) or aspiration (e.g. foreign matter such as food, liquid, saliva, or vomit is inhaled into the lungs).  The only way to determine and appropriately treat pneumonia is from lab work that indicates if microplasmas are present.  Though the type wasn’t yet known, Sydney was immediately put on IV antibiotics as a precaution.  She was still very sick, but within several hours, Sydney started talking again and could sit up for short periods.   Despite marked improvement, Sydney still needed oxygen to maintain healthy levels of oxygen saturation so we were in for an overnight stay.

Once settled into our room, Sydney was excited to choose her meal from room service (she hadn’t eaten in over 24 hours).  We had one slight problem when ordering: her egg allergy.  Last year, a mild egg allergy showed up on Sydney’s panel along with dogs and cats.  She doesn’t demonstrate any symptoms after eating foods containing cooked eggs, but we always disclose the allergy in case medication is derived from eggs.  If you have a food allergy of any type, you are given a rather restricted hospital menu.  An egg allergy means NO baked goods of any type and NO pasta, which are among Sydney’s favorites.  She finally settled on French fries and chicken nuggets though she filled up on Oreos snuck in by her nurses instead.   Sydney happily passed the evening hours watching movies from bed and listening to stories.  The night was difficult with hourly nurse’s checks, IV adjustments, and general hospital noises.  I managed to get a little shut-eye curled up next to Sydney while George snoozed on the oh so comfy hospital sofa.  After breakfast, Sydney finally needed to use the restroom and when we unhooked her oxygen tank, noticed her oxygen was in the 90’s!  This meant we could start the clock towards release.  She could go home after six hours without oxygen and no other concerns with her vitals.  We still didn’t know which variety of pneumonia little bit had so a mask was necessary for us to leave the room.  Sydney was not pleased with this, but she clamored to get out of her bed.  The little tan teddy who comforted Sydney during the ambulance ride helped convince her to wear a mask as well as take medication and cope with hospital life.

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By late afternoon Sydney passed her six-hour test, and we learned she developed pneumonia from aspiration.  This meant she was not contagious (HOORAY) and we were headed home with a round of antibiotics.  Going to the hospital is always a humbling experience.  We are grateful Sydney’s stay was brief and that we managed to go four years without anyone going to the hospital.  Though we do not hope to repeat this ever again, we admittedly savored the individual time with Sydney.

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Sydney was soooooo happy to be discharged she struck this pose with the enormous hospital toy teddy.  After coming home, Lovey, has been instrumental getting Sydney to finish her medicines.  Lovey takes a tiny bit then Sydney hesitantly finishes it.

A week after this hospital stint, Sydney returned to the pediatrician for a follow-up visit and got a clean bill of health.  In addition to being a preemie, having pneumonia puts Sydney at risk for further respiratory illness.  Therefore, all four kids, mom, and dad got flu shots.  Exactly one week following discharge, Sydney was covered in hives.  Thankfully, a friend warned us that it was possible.  Apparently following serious illness, the body can have a histamine reaction resulting in hives.  Sydney handled the itchiness well and tolerated a few rounds of Claritin and clear calamine lotion.  Within three days they disappeared as quickly as they appeared.

We are oh so happy to be home and healthy again, and are taking as many precautions to keep things this way as we can.  I’ve since gotten a pulse oximeter to help us monitor oxygen saturation should there be another scare.

Hugs!

Amber


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Tiny Feet, Big Impressions

Since I was expecting quadruplets I knew my babies would have a NICU stay, and I knew it would be difficult. In the months that led up to delivery, I communicated with other moms of quadruplets and braced myself for the inevitable.  In the first week or so, I was managing NICU life relatively well, but as the days and weeks passed, it wore on my heart. Seeing my babies struggle each day hurt.  About that time, our hospital’s resident art therapist, Diana, paid us a visit and the timing was impeccable.  Diana bonded with our family immediately and quickly began working on a masterpiece.   As the years pass and NICU life fades into memories, this piece of art remains as a salient reminder of just how much our babies have grown.  Right now, the painting is housed in our study’s curio cabinet, but at every birthday celebration, it’s a centerpiece of the party decor.

we got a bath and clothes016

Sydney was so tiny that preemie sized clothes were far too large.  Her foot was about the length of my thumb.

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we got a bath and clothes022

©FourtoAdore.com

Exactly three years and two days after meeting Diana, the kids and I returned to the hospital for a specialist appointment.  The appointment was at 8:30 am and I was running solo, which meant it was a huge undertaking to get everyone ready.  I decided for the amount of effort required to go to this appointment, we’d make it into a day long field trip.  Following the appointment, we stopped by the Build a Bear workshop where the quads beloved teddy bears were born.  There, each of the kids bought undies for their bear.  Next, we popped by Starbucks where I treated myself to a caramel frapuccino to sip while the kids darted about the play area.  The kids had a blast exploring the hospital where they were once long term residents.

©FourtoAdore.com

build a bear undies

  

Just as it was time to head home, I spotted the smiling face of a woman clad in splatter paint from head to toe.  It was none other than Diana herself!  Though it had been three years and the quads had grown, she remembered us immediately.  I am forever grateful for the gift of art Diana gave us at a difficult time, and I can only imagine the many hearts she’s touched and will touch.   Reuniting with Diana was the perfect opportunity to thank her for the impression she made years prior. Sometimes it really is the little things that leave the biggest impression on us.

Hugs!

Amber

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Ice Cream {Summer Bucket List}

By Texas standards, or summer has been mild with temperatures in the 90’s. The past week or so triple digits have arrived and it’s feeling like Texas in July. That meant time for ice cream! There’s a McDonald’s not far from our house so one afternoon we hit up the drive through for the $1 hot fudge sundaes. When we got home, we enjoyed every last drip of the creamy, cold stuff on our front porch.

Ice cream is a lovely summer treat, but going to McDonald’s meant we also needed some golden French fries.  Sydney decided ice cream was too cold and gobbled the fries instead…

golden french fries

ice cream

ice cream

ice cream

Believe it or not, we’ve tackled nearly every item on our summer bucket list.  It looks like I’ve got some posts to publish!

  1. Movies
  2. Sea Life Aquarium
  3. Train ride
  4. Fire station tour
  5. Library story time
  6. Sprayground
  7. Zoo
  8. Bahama Buck’s
  9. Frozen yogurt
  10. Community pool
  11. Grill dinner outside
  12. Water Table
  13. Inflatable Pool
  14. Sprinklers
  15. Ice Cream
  16. Indoor playgrounds
  17. Lee’s Grilled Cheese
  18. Blow bubbles
  19. Chalk drawings
  20. Board games
  21. Play dates
  22. Summer Reading Club
  23. Dance classes
  24. Fireworks
  25. Sleep over with grandparents
  26. Nature Walks
  27. Bounce house
  28. Popsicles
  29. S’mores
  30. Sparklers
  31. Water pistol duels

hugs,

Amber

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Hello, three year olds!

Three days ago, our “babies” turned THREE!!!!  Last week my friend, Jen, came over and snapped a few three-year photos of the crew to mark this milestone.  On their birthday I asked them a few interview questions about their favorite things.  I plan to ask the same questions every year, perhaps adding a question each year.  One thing I’m loving about this age is the conversations we have, especially when I get insight into their perception of the world.

Shawver family

Rylin age 3 interview

Harper age 3 interview

Sydney age 3 interview

Mason age 3 interview

quads

Harper and Mason

Harper & Mason

Stay tuned for the quadventres of our three-year olds!

hugs,

Amber


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Board Games {Summer Bucket List}

As part of our summer bucket list, we’ve been introducing preschool board games.  They are ideal for teaching social skills such as turn taking, winning and losing appropriately, problem solving, and following directions/ rules.  Our favorite preschool games include:

Four player games such as Hungry Hungry Hippos are absolutely perfect for quads.

Tea Party game

Hungry Hungry Hippos

Yippee!  We accomplished another of our bucket list items.

  1. Movies
  2. Sea Life Aquarium
  3. Train ride
  4. Fire station tour
  5. Library story time
  6. Sprayground
  7. Zoo
  8. Bahama Buck’s
  9. Frozen yogurt
  10. Community pool
  11. Grill dinner outside
  12. Water Table
  13. Inflatable Pool
  14. Sprinklers
  15. Ice Cream
  16. Indoor playgrounds
  17. Lee’s Grilled Cheese
  18. Blow bubbles
  19. Chalk drawings
  20. Board games
  21. Play dates
  22. Summer Reading Club
  23. Dance classes
  24. Fireworks
  25. Sleep over with grandparents
  26. Nature Walks
  27. Bounce house
  28. Popsicles
  29. S’mores
  30. Sparklers
  31. Water pistol duels

hugs,

Amber

PS- If you can’t get enough of Four to Adore, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Four TOGETHER!

Today was a very special day at the NICU. Of course it was the babies’ four week birthday, which was special. Even better….they all united for the first time since birth. There have been the occasional jailbreaks with one baby, but we’ve never been able to unite them due to oxygen tanks. However, today Sydney and Mason both came off oxygen. YAY!

Anyways, while I was feeding Mason our darling primary nurse, Lisa, took Rylin for a jailbreak to see him. Mason and Rylin touched hands and had such a sweet moment together. We realized that everyone had gone on a jailbreak except Mason so we unhooked him to visit Harper. Well, then we had Rylin, Harper and Mason together. How could we have three together and not four? So…Sydney got loose too. We stuffed the four of them all in Harper’s crib and had a mini photo shoot.

It’s funny because many visitors that darken the doors of the quad suite tell me the babies look identical, but as Mom I see how different they are. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if I just see their uniqueness because I am Mom or if they truly look unique. Looking at pictures of them snuggled together I actually find it difficult to see similarities. Can you see their uniqueness or similarities?

Mason and Harper having brother time!

Rylin came to crash the party.

And then there were four!
Rylin, Harper, Sydney and Mason all together for the first time since birth.

I just have to kiss their sweet heads.

The babies and I with Aunt CiCi.

 

You have to be tiny like this to pull off wearing a strawberry or monkey on your butt.

Dog pile!

hugs!

 

Amber

 

 

 

 

Three Weeks of NICU Life

Today the babies are three weeks old so we have officially logged three weeks of NICU time. Our NICU is fantastic, but no matter how great the NICU is, the reality is that we still have four babies in the NICU. I am finding that being in the NICU is a bit taxing and I just want the babies to be big enough for home. (Obviously, I would be terrified to take them home right now as they are). I just have to keep in mind that just like bed rest, this will be a short time in the scheme of it all.

Since the babies are 33 weeks gestational age we started introducing bottles during feeding time. Up to this point, all of the babies have been fed via a tube every three hours. Before they are fed, “cares” are completed. This involves checking their body temperature, changing their diaper, moving their pulse ox to the other food, and oral care (swabbing their lips and mouth with a sponge dipped in peppermint water). If they cue (look alert, root, suck on a pacifier) during or right after cares, they are given a bottle to try. At this point, we don’t expect them to take the full bottle, but we want them to suck on it a few times and/ or at least hold the nipple in their mouth. While most people expect that eating is instinctual, it is not for preemies. They simply do not have the suck-swall0w-breath movements coordinated just yet. We closely monitor them while feeding to make sure they take a breath and don’t end up with a mouthful of milk they can’t swallow.

Early in our stay, nurses warned me that feeding was the most difficult part of the NICU and boy they were right! It is a slow and painful process. For the most part, Harper and Sydney do not cue (yet). They have few times, but not much. Mason has a few times, but Rylin has started to on a more consistent basis. When they have cued, Sydney, Harper and Mason have taken about 2-5 milliliters at a time. Rylin is figuring this out a little better and has taken up to 30 milliliters! That princess wants to learn how to eat. Whatever the babies don’t take in, goes into their gavage bag and they are tube fed the rest. Bottle feeding is literally exhausting to preemies so Harper, Sydney, and Mason have all gone on oxygen to help them a bit. I hated to see that tiny backslide, but really it is normal and not a huge deal. Nurses have told me that in the next few weeks it may click more for them. Let’s hope that is the case. In the meantime, I need prayers for patience and grace. I have to keep in mind that given their gestational age, the babies are really doing great.

Here are some pictures of events from the past week:

20120810-075807.jpg Harper jail broke to visit his siblings and got a little cuddle with Sydney. So sweet!

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George figured out how to use the Boppy pillow to feed Rylin. She took the most from him on the first day.

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Sydney and I gave bottle feeding a try. She took 3 ml that time. She may be tiny, but she tries just as hard as her brothers.

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George got a chance to feed Mason too. Notice we have a different Boppy for him? We actually have FOUR Boppy pillows 🙂

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The nurses are so cute and love to dress the babies to match their sheets and sometimes each other. One day I found Rylin and Sydney dressed in matching pajamas. Notice how Rylin fills them out, but Sydney pulled her right arm and leg in and curled up since she had extra space.

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Harper was the first to go on oxygen and soon after Sydney decided she wanted a puff too. Then, my breathing champ, Mason felt left out and also got some oxygen. At least they didn’t need to go back on CPAP. Oxygen is just delivered via a nasal cannula so we can still see their cute little faces.

20120810-082012.jpg Harper

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Sydney

20120810-082031.jpg Mason

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Rylin

 

hugs!

Amber