Last Year’s Valetines Day and This Years…

•February 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Last year Mark took me on an overnight stay at  Terranea.  An oceanfront resort in Palos Verdes.  it was absolutely beautiful and most definitely a romantic night.  We got to our room to see truffles and a bottle of champagne.  We then went to dinner and drinks and came back to the room to a drawn bath with rose pedals leading up to the tub and in it.  It was BY FAR, the most romantic and nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.  Some girls claim that they don’t need to be wined and dined to feel good and I think I fall under that category, but I could sure get used to that.  It was exciting, sweet, and did I mention romantic?

Sunrise view from our room

This year…  hhuuuummm, how two babies really mix things up…. I didn’t even think about Valentine’s Day.  No thought went into today, nor did I want anything out of it.  Mark came home with a single rose and a sweet card from him and the boys and we ate chocolate chip pancakes for dinner.  Besides being sleep deprived, it’s all I need.  My family here with me.  Mark and I have been so overwhelmed with babies and him with work and trying to do EVERYTHING I ask of him (or demand, whichever way you wish to look at it) that stopping to pick up a rose let’s me know he will never forget about me.  I got Mark nothing.  I somewhat feel like a schmuck although he will say he doesn’t need anything and he loves that I’m the mother of his boys.  (By far the greatest compliment in the world.)

A perfect example of how life can change very quickly.  I wouldn’t change a thing and I know one day in the future Mark and I will take many more romantic trips…for now, we’re enjoying us a family.  I love them.  I love Mark as a future husband, a dad, and a man.  He is, my valentine.

Two Months!

•February 10, 2011 • 1 Comment

We're Growing!

The boys-

Cooper – HOLY MOLY high maintenance Cooper!  He’s gassy and fussy.  I’m in the process of attempting to transition to formula because the boobie sucking machine is taking up way too much time and it’s hard to manage the boys while being attached to it.  Well Cooper hates all formula and he lets me know.  It’s a chore to get him to take formula bottles and I usually pay for it later while he is screaming with a tummy ache.  He loves to be cuddled and will let anyone have the honor.  So far I’ve noticed that he loves to sleep on his tummy and if it wasn’t so taboo I would let him.  He sleeps so much better and I do think he has the head strength to do it. He also puts weight on his legs, we can stand him up and he bounces a little.  Pretty good for his age.  We’re still working on the weight gain, I tend to stress about it so I had Mark go buy me a baby scale. According to that scale, he’s just under 8 lbs.  He really enjoys the swing and of course hates being naked and getting his diaper changed.

Cannon- My mother nicknamed him M&M for Mini Mark.  Many people are starting to say he looks like Mark.  I don’t really see anyone in either of them but okay.  Cannon is like a garbage disposal, he’s a GREAT eater!  Taking 100 mls every 2-3 hours.  I am also guilty of giving him anything Cooper didn’t finish. (I hate wasting my milk)  So if Cannon has weight issues in the future, yup that’s my fault.  Cannon is (most days) my low maintenance child.  He will sit in the swing, the bouncy, the boppy.  He’s a pretty chill kid.  He also ROLLED OVER last week.  From belly to back…NOT fond of tummy time.

Both boys are puckering their lips like they’re about to coo any day and I’m waiting excitedly.  They make little smiles here and there and I’m still not sure if its gas or real. They’re BEYOND gassy, but they’re such beautiful babies (of course I would say that, they’re mine).  They both have colds as I finish typing this post (cause it’s taken me two days, like most posts do.)  I’m actually waiting to hear from the doctors to see if it’s RSV which would mean a hospital visit.  I hate seeing them sick, it’s no fun at all.

It’s scary how fast this is going.  Do I want it to slow down right now?  I’m not gonna lie, NOPE.  This is tough, very tough.  I was just telling my sister the other day that if I had a fast forward button I would be very tempted to push it.  I am constantly reminding myself that I’ll never get these days back and one day I’ll look back and wish I could rewind time but SHIT, I don’t know that I care right now.  However I will say that I’m adapting.  Things may not be getting easier, but it’s easier to deal.  I’m learning the boys cries and I’m better at assessing their needs, so I guess that makes the process of baby care a little less stressful.  I’m also beginning to realize that this is for keeps, they’re not going back inside my belly, this is for keeps.  For KEEPS, FOREVER!  The lack of sleep still sucks.  I’ll never get those nights back.  Mark and I are still adjusting in our new added roles to our lives, while attempting to make time for one another. (Probably the hardest part of it all.)  I want to set a good example for these boys and in order to do that, mom and dad must be on the same page, reading at the same pace.  We’re working on it.

I still can’t believe I’m a mother. What’s even more crazy, I already know this soon that I want to do this again….I see more kids in our future.  🙂

We are thankful for…

•February 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The boys would like to take a moment to share their appreciation for all the help and visitors they’ve had.  They feel very blessed.

First and foremost:

Our dad.  He is the most amazing dad in the entire world.  Our dad gets up every morning and goes to work for his family.  We know that we are his number one and we know he loves our crazy mom too.  He checks on us throughout the day and sometimes even comes home early when we’re too much for mom to handle.  When he gets home he takes no time for himself and gets right into taking care of us.  He even gets up with us at night.  We can see in his face how much he loves us.  We really see how selfless he is and appreciate all of his hard work.  We can’t wait to get advice from him as we grow and learn.  We love you daddy.

Dad feeding Cannon in the NICU

Grammy and Papa James:

She came and stayed with us for a few days.  She didn’t stop the whole time she was here. Always taking care of us or cleaning or organizing or cooking.  It let mom relax and feel like she was able to enjoy us and not have to worry about all that day-to-day not fun stuff.  She still comes over often and just starts doing laundry or cleaning and we can tell mom loves the help. (Even though she wouldn’t mind if she just sat and held one of us either.)  She also let us stay at her house so she could help mom out with the night feedings and let her sleep.  Mom LOVED it.  We love our Grammy James.  We love Papa too.  One time, Papa was keeping an eye on us while mom and dad were trying to get ready for a brunch and we both decided to get real fussy and cry at the same time and Papa didn’t know what to do so he laughed.  🙂

Grammy and Papa - visiting us at home

Grandma Tonette and Papa Frank:

Wow, Grandma Tonette is the food lady!  She has brought mom and dad soooo many dinners they can just put in the freezer and thaw out.  She stops by on her way home from work sometimes and hangs out with mom and holds us.  She makes those late afternoons that drag go by a lot faster and keeps mom from calling dad and bugging him about what time he’ll be home.  Papa Frank has also stopped by to come hang out with us.  We love them like crazy. We enjoying hanging at their place on the weekends with all of our family.

Papa Frank

Grandma Tonette

Erin & Patti:

Our second cousins are nurses! Erin is a L&D nurse and Patti is a NICU nurse.  Mom loves this.  They have come over many times and mom feels at ease knowing we are in good hands.  Thank you cousins!

Cousins!

More Family Visitors:

Auntie Devon is now coming over on Mondays to hang with us.  It frees mommy up to work or take care of any errands or housework that needs to be done.  (She usually brings us over a yummy dinner too!)  She loves to cuddle us.

Auntie Devon

uncle Drake & Shannon

Auntie Darcy & Uncle Lincoln

Auntie Candace

Auntie Jess and Great Grandma GG

The Gurrs - they brought us dinner!!!

Cousin Jeff

MORE Visitors and helpers:

Alexis comes on Thursdays so mom can go into work.  She is TOO MUCH….  😉

Alexis

Keri is mom’s best friend.  She stayed the whole time mom was in labor with us and rubbed her back when we were giving her pain.  She comes down to see us whenever she can.  Last time she even brought mom some food, the cake was amazing!  She visited us in the NICU too.  Mom has known her since high school and wishes she lived closer to us. Keri’s mom Diane also came to visit and brought three dinners over!! She’s sorry she forgot to take a picture.

KERI!!

Kellie- she brought us dinner too!

(We do not like her sweatshirt though…shhh don’t tell)

Kimberly has offered mom to come over to help out too.  Mom thinks she is the baby whisperer.  Must be those years of nanny experience.  She’s gonna be an awesome mom one day.

Kimberly

Andilene

JuJu

JuJu

Wendy and Christine

Wendy and Christine

 

Jenny and Sue

Minh!

As you can see we are loved by many! For the sake of not letting this post get crazy long, mom will not post more pictures.  Many people have gone above and beyond to help out our family and show us the love.  We are truly blessed and grateful for all the people in our life.  Thank you everyone for your love and support!

Cannon and Cooper

Cannon Rolled Over 2-4-11

•February 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

He actually did it yesterday but I didn’t catch it.  Not the best video, I had to set my phone down to set Cooper down and I had to catch him cause he was on the ottoman.  🙂

Coop’s First Cranio Appointment

•January 18, 2011 • 3 Comments

For some reason this post is hard to start.  I knew from day one when I saw Cooper’s palate and gumline that he had a long road of surgeries ahead of him.  But what I knew and know even more is that my child is still a child and that he needs to be cared for and loved like every other child.  There was/is no time to dwell on the fact that it is harder for him to take a bottle then other babies and nursing is pretty much impossible from a nutrient stand point.  I look at him exactly the same as I do Cannon and both kids need to eat and grow.  So that has been my focus from day one.  With that being said, Cooper had his first appointment with his surgery team…

We met this team prenatally so I knew who were going to be seeing.  I absolutely love the team nurse Pam. She is has a ton of experience not only with cleft babies but is an OT and was a nurse in the NICU for many years.  Babies are her thing and you can tell in the way she talks about them.  She helped me understand what it is like for a baby with cleft palate to eat.  She explained it like this: It’s the same as someone trying to drink out of a straw with a hole in it.  Makes sense.  Pam came in and I asked her how her holidays were.  She had let me know not very good because her daughter just had a stillbirth.  There was a knot in the cord and it was wrapped around the neck three times.  As soon as they cut the cord, the babies heart stopped beating.  My heart goes out to Pam and her daughter.  This story made it a little hard to focus on the appointment because I could tell Pam was hurting.  She went on to weigh Cooper.  According to their scale Cooper lost a few ounces since his January 3rd pediatrician appointment.  This was very surprising to me and disappointing.  I thought for sure he was getting bigger.  They asked how much and what he was eating and I let them know he was eating two ounces every 2.5-3 hours and that he was eating well.  Also, that I was feeling very confident in my feeding skills using his special bottle called the haberman (a $27 bottle)  The team informed me that they weren’t concerned with his slight drop for two reasons, 1) Because it’s a different scale then at the doctor’s office, and 2) The amounts he eats seems more than enough.  But of course I was very bummed.  The plastic surgeon came in and went right to checking out his mouth.  He informed us he was going to talk around us for a minute while he discussed Cooper’s palate with what looked like a young new doctor.  He did not start up a conversation with us and give us the low down on Cooper so I just started asking questions.  He let me know his palate was pretty wide but just like the lip he will be able to use what’s in his mouth to pull everything together (so to speak).  Since Cooper was born at 34 weeks gestation his first surgery (the lip) will most likely be pushed back to April.  There is no “cookie-cutter” way about any cleft surgeries since they are all different cases, so for Cooper’s case he just needs to get bigger before he can be operated on.  We will go back in March to check on his weight progress and depending on that appointment, they will schedule a date for his lip repair.  Most likely it will be towards the end of April.  He will also straighten out his nose.

I’m gonna not be PC for a moment and say doctors are weird.  I’m sorry if I’m offending any doctors but even Mark felt the appointment was just odd.  I guess I just expected Cooper to be assessed and then you get explained to regarding his situation and the plan of attack.  That didn’t really happen but I still got those answers because I asked the right questions.  Cooper’s palate may need more than one surgery to repair and he will need some sort of bone grafting once his teeth come in (or don’t come in).  I also asked about speech issues and he again let me know it’s just something we won’t know until he starts talking.

I’m getting the hint that there’s just not much of a way to be proactive and that these issues are going to just have to be dealt with as they come up.  Cooper’s cleft is not as severe as others so for that I’m grateful, but it’s also not the best case.

This makes me reflect for a minute.  I have never been one to sit back and wait, I’ve always gone after anything and everything I’ve wanted usually succeeding (partly because of dedication and drive, partly because I’m spoiled and tend to get what I want.)  I also enjoy having control.  More like, I can’t stand NOT having control.  So here is God…giving me these obstacles out of my ordinary, testing my character, forcing me to learn, grow, and overcome.

Cooper’s journey for Cooper will be a big part of shaping his character as he grows and goes through each surgery.  He won’t know life any other way.  Cooper’s journey for mom is a testing one and a learning one.  One that I think so far…I’m doing okay.  Like I said, Cooper is still a boy, a child, he will be treated just the same.

Here’s to trusting in a higher power and the plan for all of us.

Coop-a-loop

One Month Old!!

•January 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

We're One Month

The weeks are still flying by.  I’m going to try to recap each month of the boy’s first year of life, let’s hope I can keep up.

The boys spent the first 8 days of their lives in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).  These 8 days were the toughest on me emotionally so far.  Any woman who has experienced caring a child for 9 months can somewhat understand.   Most women expect to leave the hospital with baby/babies in arms and well, I didn’t.  I left them with nurses.  I cried myself to sleep some of those nights, a few of them fighting with Mark cause I felt he did not and could not understand what I was going through.  He tried so hard to continue to explain that it was best for the boys, yada, yada but I knew all that already, I just wanted to be allowed to be sad.  I spent my days in the NICU with the nurses feeding the boys every three hours and pumping for them once done with the feedings.  One of the nurses who took great care of the boys name was Kim.  She was a pleasure to talk to.  I could feel her care and passion for her job and my sons.  While in the NICU, Cooper managed to pee on Kim before getting a bath.  It was pretty funny cause all Kim could do was stand there and let him finish peeing. Then to hear her say, “Ahh, Cooper, you peed on me!” in her Asian accent  was hilarious.  (Go ahead say it in your head, you’ll chuckle)  But anyways while in the NICU, the boys spent 4 or 5 days in the isolettes (they would have been out sooner but they became jaundiced and needed to stay warm while they laid naked under the photo-therapy lights.)  They started off on IVs but both came off within 4 days. They both spent the first 6 days losing weight every night which is normal for newborn babies.  But both had gained by the 7th night.  Cannon took a few days to get the hang of sucking, swallowing, then breathing.  But he figured it out and became a great eater.  All both boys really needed to do was to grow and eat.  And that they did.

They came home on Friday December 17th and it was crazy!  It was raining as we tried to get the boys into the car quickly, by the time the boys finally got discharged it was almost time for them to eat again and by the time we got home they were more then ready to eat.  It was our first chaotic moment of many to come.

Like I said in the three week old update, the next few weeks were a blur.  My time has been filled with changing diapers, feeding babies, cleaning bottles and pumping breast milk every 3 hours!  Mark took the first week off work and has helped a ton (even though we don’t see eye-to-eye) and then my mom was here with us the week after Christmas.  It was beyond awesome.  For Christmas we debated for days on whether or not to get out of the house to see family.  We ended up going to Mark’s parents and the boys did great.  New Year’s Eve we went and showed the boys off at my best friends Keri’s parents house and New Years Day we were back at Mark’s parents to hang and eat all day, again the boys are very content, and so far, they do great in cars.

Grandmas and boys on New Years Day 2011

Mom taking care of business

So month one was full of poop and milk and NO sleep.  Mark and I are running on fumes but we love our gifts from God.  I break down weeks by days and I break down days by 3 hour work sessions. And every morning I wake up looking forward to my cup of coffee and think to myself, it’s a new day, I made it.  (Corny but it works for me)

As I sit on the couch pumping my boobs, writing this blog (Mark’s out to go get us some McFlurries from McDonalds) it’s easy to get distracted by watching the boys sleep in their bouncy seats.  Their little personalities are starting to come out and I am truly enjoying every minute  with them.

As of 1/3/11

Cannon: 7.1

Cannon Alex Johnson

Cooper: 5.11

Cooper Anthony Johnson

My goal by the end of month 2: To get a few full nights sleep.

To my boys:  Welcome home.  Your dad and I are so excited for our future together as a family.  We of course like excited young parents have big plans for you guys.  Our hope is that you will grow to have big plans for yourselves as well.  Keep growing strong. (Even if it means you have to wake up every 2-2.5 hours to eat.)  I know one day you’ll let me sleep again (or buy me a Hawaii vacation)

<3,

Mom

3 Weeks Old

•December 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Time is flying and everything is a blur.  I’m trying to soak in every moment but the broken sleep and late night arguments with Mark and constant baby care weighs heavy on the brain.  What time is it? Who ate how much last and when? Did Cannon poo last diaper? When did I pump last? Did both boys get their vitamins? When’s the next doctor’s appointment?

With all the needed day-to-day stuff taking place I still think to myself, “I can’t believe I (and Mark of course) made these boys.  How did I get soooo lucky to be blessed with these little people?”

None of this is easy.  Nothing is the same as what it was before babies. Me and Mark, social life, work, plans I may have had.  But it’s still all good.  No scratch that, it’s all great.  I know the physical part of this will pass and when I hit my mini breaking points I remind myself that this is a blessing and there’s a reason I was given these kids.  The boys spent 8 days in the NICU and I do feel that those 8 days were the most difficult days emotionally for me that I have ever experienced in my 26 years.

Wow, I just realized this post is extremely random and all over the place but I guess that’s appropriate seeing that I, myself am all over the place these days.  I love life, I love my family….yes even Mark (except for the hours of 12am-3am). Life is here, it knocked on our door, we answered with smiles, fears, nerves, and joy.  I can’t possibly ask for anything else.  Wait, yes I can, for mine and Mark’s wedding to plan itself…. that’s a whole different post… 🙂

Dude! Scoot over, you're cramping my style.