Friday, November 30, 2012

'Tis the Season for Sharing

Holidays are hard for so many. Not enough finances, worried about not getting the right gifts or enough gifts for our children and family, entertaining, many fighting depression, and so many people that are remembering loved ones rather it be a love one that lived a long life or an pregnancy, infant, or child loss.
November-February are hard months for our family. As these months pass it  me of Logan's struggles and how his tiny body suffered and struggled to live until the Lord called him home on January 30, 2009.
This year is no different for us. We are a 1 income family now instead of 2. We have added another member to our family this year and the budget is tight. I've been planning my children's Christmas since August to avoid from having to ask for help. I am trying to teach my children what Christmas is about and not teach them that it is the time of year to get expensive presents and cheap gifts that will be in the garbage in a month. This being said, God has provided for us and I have been able to keep up with all our bills (for the most part) and I am near finished with Christmas for my children.

I found myself on facebook this morning and read a post about buying gifts for children off the local Angel Trees. This reminded me that I have not done anything in Honor of Logan this holiday season yet. I honestly can't remember what I have done that past few years. I know I have thought about it and I have donated small amounts of money or a few presents to Toys for Tots, but not much else. I emailed one of Logan's nurses and asked what parents do for the NICU or NICU parents around the holidays. I haven't received a reply yet, but another friend mention a local woman that donates to the hospital I worked at for needy mothers and babies. I thought how perfect would that be to give a gift of baby boy items in honor of my Baby Boy this year. Though this mother will  know nothing about me she will read his name and know this is a gift of love from one mother to another.

Oh My Baby on Facebook is the organization I donated though today. She will take any donations to make bags. I know not everyone has the funds to do a complete bag, but every little bit helps. Even though we do not know these ladies circumstances and many may judge why these woman need this help or why they are having babies they can't afford, but just remember that it is NOT that child's fault and I feel good know that a child will get to receive these very basic items to get these newborns though their 1st weeks of life. I'm honored to been blessed to donate our bag today and hope that I can do several of these bags throughout the year.

This was the picture that was posted on the facebook site of our donation. Just one more way I can honor my son's life while helping others. I'm really excited I was able to do this and hope some more local families can remember these babies during the holiday season alone with all the other needy children that need a toy to open up on Christmas to celebrate our Saviors birth.

My heart was so blessed today by a beautiful young Mom, @Jennifer Keigans-Gunter, who donated a complete bag for a brand-new baby boy in honor of Logan Christopher Gunter, the baby her family lost a few years ago. Thank you Jennifer for allowing Logan's short life to bless so many other lives today!!
Anyone interested in doing this contract your local hospitals social worker and see if they are willing to accept these type donations. I hope everyone has a blessed Holiday season. We already have our tree up and the yard decorated. Trying to stay active and keep the children busy. Everyone is doing well except for the colds they keep spreading to each other. Hannah is almost 7 months old. She is threatening to crawl at any moment. She has 2 teeth now. Jacob is staying healthy and become a chubby little boy these days. So happy and alert now after coming off all the meds he has been on for so long. I'm hoping 2013 will bring great things for our Family and pray that we can learn how to get Jacob to communicate with us better.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Our Thanksgiving

We went to my friend Hills house since Jack worked. Usually we are in Alabama with my parents. This year we are home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Story of an Exclusively Pumping Mom

I haven't talked a whole lot about our latest addition to our household, our Hannah Rose. She is 6 months old today. Anyone interested, I blog about her here. I've kept this blog as my own personal journal to her since I found out I was pregnant and all the fears that went along with it after the pregnancy with out triplets.

Hannah has by far been the most well behaved baby out of my 5 children. Andrew would be 2nd runner up and look at him now. He is a NAUGHTY boy...I'm kinda concerned LOL. I was really thinking this time around I would actually be able to breast feed her and be "normal." With Ava I had flat, inverted nipples and due to my own frustration and her lack of latching even with nipple shields I resorted to pumping breast milk. She breastfed at the breast more than any of my children. My problem was that from pumping, I overstimulated my breast to make to much milk and when I letdown she would chock as the milk overflowed from the nipple shield (the only way I could get her to the breast) I would have milk all down my cloths, the nipple shield would slide out of place. It was a mess. After several months of attempts to breastfeed without bottles I resorted to exclusively pumping and bottle feeding breast milk. I had so much extra milk I had to buy a deep freezer. I ran out of room at one point and started dumping extra milk...I had no clue there were donation programs out there at this point. My breast dried up on their own, despite my desperate attempts to keep pumping and by 10 months I could no longer produce any milk. She was still given breast milk until her 1st birthday with some formula introduce at 10 months.

The triplets, I was rather proud of myself for providing breast milk to all 3 babies as long as I did considering what we were going through. Even though the 1st months after their birth before their due date they were taking tiny amounts of milk, I was able to keep them on mostly breast milk until 6 1/2 months before once again I stopped producing. I had to fortify with formula to add calories and if there was ever a breast milk shortage Logan always got the breast milk 1st since he was the sickest. I will never forget the day Logan died how the only thing I had to take from the hospital that day besides his belongings was a blue plastic bin of the last bags of milk I had pumped for him. It was bitter sweet peeling the hospital labels off the bottles for Baby Boy A Gunter and giving the last of that milk to our survivors Baby Boy B Gunter Baby Boy C Gunter at home. I don't know why that memory is so much clearer than others, but it is. I'm still concerned that my supply will suddenly drop again. Then I remember with the triplets the STRESS I was under. 3 sick babies in the hospital, ventilators, brain damage, feeding tubes, the hospital being an hour drive each way, taking care of a 2 year old, juggling work after the 1st few months, taking care of 2 preemies at home, pumping, toddler, and still driving back and forth to the nicu everyday while working, and trying to keep it all together. Ha! I think of how lazy I am now and wonder how I found the energy and patience to do it all. Only answer is that God's people truly lifted us up in prayer and His Grace was over us. I don't think back to those 6 1/2 months of my life as much as I used to. When I do it reminds me of the good and the bad and how so many people cared about my family still do, just in different ways now.

Breastfeeding and possibly having to pump this time around with Hannah was the one thing I was NOT looking forward to. After all the pumping from the previous births, my nipples I felt were no longer as flat nor was the one side inverted anymore (just in case anyone really wanted to know about my nipples) I had high expectations I could get a full term healthy baby to latch and breastfeed well. I swore I would not even take the breast pump out of it bag. Nothing started off right. I was not awake when she was born. It was over 3 hours after her birth before I seen her and she was already given a bottle of formula. NO ONE encouraged me to breastfeed in the hospital and no one came to help (never once seen the lactation consultant after asking several times) a few nurses tried to help with latching. Once my milk came in my nipples were as flat as ever, she would root and never latch. She even refused the nipple shield. Hannah screamed and cried if I tried to get her to breastfeed....this gave me major anxiety along with dealing with 3 other children at home and a big vertical c-section incision. I resorted to what I was used to. Pumping 20-30 minutes ever 2-3 hours. After a week or so I had enough supply built up to start storing breast milk 4oz at a time. By the time Hannah was 3 months old. I had filled my small deep freezer full and started to fill a 2nd deep freezer. I think fresh milk is best, so I did not really want to thaw milk if I did not have to. This is when I was introduced to the facebook group Human Milk 4 Human Babies. There is a page for every state. There is another group I am aware of called Eats on Feets. These are groups of breastfeeding moms that choose to share their breast milk with other mothers who can not produce enough milk on their own for whatever reason without the cost of going though a MilkBank. Personally when I was offered breast milk from an old high school friend I thought it was views have changed slightly and I definitely don't mind donating, but I guess most mom go off the indication that if the breastfeeding mother is willing to give the milk to their own children, then it should be safe for their children. I think it is great that the mothers of this donor milk go out of their way to get this milk for their babies vs. just giving there children formula. I'm not here to start a debate on why or why not to give your child untested donated milk. I personally have connected with another mom of multiples who DOES pump for her twins, but does not produce enough for them. She was having to supplement with formula and her boys were not doing well on formula and needed a special formula when not fed breast milk. If you are over income for WIC this can be VERY expensive.  So, she buys my milk stoage bags and I fill them up with milk for her. Hannah being 6 months old now, I have given her June, July, August, and part of September's pumped milk thus far. I kept May's milk because it was mostly pumped in the 50 or so breast milk storage bottles I had collected over the past 5 years. I did thaw and give this milk to Hannah it took me 3 months to give her all of May's milk. Now I don't bother thawing milk for her. Hannah always gets fresh and the rest is frozen for my recipient mom. Because I am afraid of loosing my supply suddenly like I did the last 2 times, I try to keep at least 1-2 months worth of milk in my freezer. Hannah will not take formula at all. I've tried in a pinch at a doctors office and she kept pushing the bottle away.
This time around pumping has not been horrible. It does become quite an addiction for me. I can't stand my breast feeling full so I never go more than 6 hours without pumping at night and usually pump at least every 3-4 hour during the day sometimes more often sometimes less. I am usually able to store a minimum of 32 oz of breast milk in the freezer on top of what I feed Hannah every day. Each time I pump I am normally able to to get at least 16oz in 15-20 minutes. Often, I don't feel empty and wait 30 minutes and I am able to get another 8oz if I have time to pump again.

I like pumping because I can often feed Hannah a bottle of breast milk while I pump or someone else can feed her. I think she eats less often and stay fuller more so than a normal breast fed baby because she does not work as hard to get the milk. (just my option) This makes a less tired mommy that does not have to get up for late night and early morning feeds, well I'm up pumping at 6:15 and she eats then. I can feed her in the car and in pubic without having to find a private area to feed her by breast. I am NOT locked into being home to pump. I have a hospital grade Ameda Elite pump set up at home in my pumping spot and I have a battery operated double Ameda Purley Yours Pump that is small enough to fit in my purse that I can take on the go.

Yes, pumping requires time, sometimes I have a screaming baby while I pump milk if her previous bottle is empty. I have bottles to clean and pump parts to take apart, but I don't mind at all. I actually think I prefer to pump. I can leave my baby with my husband and run errands without worrying if my baby is hungry. I don't have the baby that won't take a bottle and only likes boobies. I feel like I am just as bonded with my baby. We still lay in bed together while I feed her. I still do not have to heat bottles as breast milk is good at room temperature for hours so she always has a bottle for fresh milk out.

I must say I am rather proud of the moms who have exclusively breastfed their babies and don't pump or bottle feed. I honestly feel like it is way harder than pumping.

No matter how you give breast milk to your babies rather it be by the breast, pumped into a bottle, or donated milk from another mom.  Kuddos for giving your babies the best! Best of all it is FREE!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Vanishing "friends" of a Special Needs Parent

I've been feeling rather bitter lately thinking about all the so-called friends I used to have. As I look though my phone's contact list where I used to have a list to scroll down of people's contact info. People I used to hang out with, go shopping with, dinner together etc. Now those names slowly one by one have been deleted from my life and replaced with doctors offices, schools, and therapists' numbers. Where I used to have someone I could call upon at anytime when I was bored, feeling the need to go blow money etc, there is only a small handful of 3-4 people that have stuck by me and listen to my rants about my daily struggles.

In recent months I have really looked at who my friends really are.
  • You have the true hard core friends that will go out of the way for you as I would for them dragging there 2,3,4 kids along with them. Your lucky to have 1 of this type friend in your life I am lucky to have 2 not counting my family members.
  • You have your convenience friends...these "friends" new and old that only call or talk to you if they want something from you or have a question. Rather it be money, free food, extra medical supplies, baby sitter, etc.
  • Friends of similar circumstance...I have made a lot of these friends local and distant. These for me are mothers of multiples or of a disabled child. Great for support, but most are not ones I call and talk to...mainly we all have to many children combine to see each other in person. LOL
  • Co-worker friends. Yeah I was really disappointed in this area. I had a lot of co-worker friends. Used to go out and have a good time after work on the weekends, get invited to each others kids parties and various other activities. I was really hurt when I delivered my baby at the same hospital I worked at and not ONE person went out of their way that I worked with to visit or even call. I did get a baby shower before I left so I know they do care. I have little to no contact with most of these "friends" since I left my job 6 months ago. I do have a select few that lurk(on facebook) but we don't talk like we used to. I did feel good that I got invited to one of my old co-workers good-bye lunch after she was laid off. For the most part outside of a few facebook lurking old co-worker friends I have been abandon.
  • Then there are the facebook only friends. I have people I have given a lot of myself to in the past that have friended me on facebook, and comment, but basically want to know your business but really nothing to do with you personally. I'm guilty of this myself. I enjoy seeing updates of old high school friends etc and staying connected. I have facebook friends that I talk to more on FB, texting and phone more so than some of my local "friends".
  • Then there are those friends that just flat out abandon you...people that you once thought of as family, people that you used to talk to on a regular near daily bases, that just stop calling and respond to text etc. This hurts. Makes me wonder what I did wrong. I feel like I am in a different "class" than some of these people now. I don't fit in their click because our incomes are different, to many children, children that aren't "normal", mainly just feel unimportant to them anymore. They have taken what they could from me and no longer have a need to talk to me.
This being said. I recently went down my facebook list of "friends" I have really NO friends that are not of facebook. It really opened my eyes to how many people have been in my life and moved on at one point. I have had a lot of people come in and out of my life. I realized then how little true LOCAL friends I really had. I have made quite a few friends from different parts of the country that have shared like stories as my own, that I can talk to about everyday life of for support. Tons of people friended me for updates on the triplets and Jacob in general mostly. I spent hours weeding though people, deciding who really should see what I post and pictures I post. The point of my blogs was to update on my family, so I don't really see a need for strangers to see everything in my social network. I unfriended a lot of high school people that I was never really friends with in high school, I unfriended lots of people that I had no freaking clue who they were, I unfriended people I once loved as my own family, but realized they don't really care about me or my children. My list of 250 people is down to a mere 100 or mere 100 he he...I think it is weird that I can actually tell you how I know each and every one of those people if their name popped up, but no way I could name 100 people I know off the top of my head.

After over 3 years of battling depression and financial hardship, I think I am finally ready to stand up again and move forward. I have been living my life in idle since I was pregnant with the triplets. Once they were born early, I felt the world revolved around their health and well being. Then after Logan's death, the world revolved around Jacob's health and therapies. poor Andrew has always been the odd man out and now demands his attention. Now that Jacob is 3 and has lost home services. 3 of my 4 living children are in school now. I have had time to rest, time to think, time to regroup myself and wonder what is next. I still feel stuck, that I can't work and have lost my career for right now due to childcare and Jack's schedule. I'm ready to embrace my true friends, not enable people any longer that always wanted to take from me and were never there to just be my friend, maybe become more involved in my children's schools (though I think they hate me...true story), ready for walks in the park, lunch dates and to just live and enjoy life again with my children, my husband, my family, and my friends. I will no longer dwell on who I feel is not my friend anymore. I will simply delete them from my life. LOL I really spend to much time on facebook.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween mishap

Wednesday we took the children trick or treating. They all were pirates. About a 20 minute walk from our house or so Jacob got hurt. My husband was pushing him. He parked the wheel chair at the endge of the driveway at a house. Be put the left break on and took his hands of the chair I believe to catch Andrew. The right wheel rolled from the incline of the driveway and from the left wheel being locked, I guess the speed caused the chair parked on the incline to fall over on its side with Jacob (Thank God) strapped all the way in....we considered leaving the chest harness off so you could see his entire costume and decided against it. His head hit the IV pole and his knee hit the ground. He was crying a lot and his legs had tremors in both legs which he has not had since May when he got his 1st round of phenol and botox. I took him home and looked at him in he light. I gave him Valium and that stopped the tremors. When Jack got home with the rest of the kids I had him take him to the ER to get checked. All was well just some bumps. Almost 36 hours later he has a horrible black eye. It didn't look bad until In seen him after school on Friday. Looks like he was punched. Hope it starts to heal soon.

I fed Hannah "real food" for the 1st time last night outside of Jack and my friend Jill giving her things off their fingers before. She bad whole wheat rice mixed with breast milk and a little bit of banana. She really liked it and ate the entire amount I made. Today I made the same mix and fed Hannah and Jacob. Jacob did not appreciate this at all.

Jacob has been super moody. Can you blame him? His parents who should protect him accideny let his wheel chair flip...2nd wheel chair accident in less than a year. I really do not like that chair!

Ava is doing great learning to read and do math. She is picking up on her site words really fast at school now. Today she took her flash cards and made sentences for "fun". I was tickled by this.

Andrew is wild, but definaty learning at school. He comes to me and counts to 7 correctly and tells me most colors correctly. I am still concerned he has some sensory issues. I have rely cut back on the amount of pediasure he gets. He near lives on peanut butter sandwiches.

Hannah will be 6 months old in a few days. She can sit for a few minutes alone. Loves eating her feet and loves to scoot around on her belly on the floor.