a guy and a bee

a collection of random thoughts and ideas from me, her, and sometimes us

all the updating I have. 

PT: we are making some progress and, most notably, now have a second stander in the hopes that we can get him upright at school more. He is able to prop himself up on his forearms and engage from the floor more.

EIS: eye gaze is an amazing thing. He continues to prove that he knows what is going on around him and that he is able to make choices.  We continue to find ways to acknowledge those choices. 

OT: whole milk!!  He continues to just eat purées, but we have increased quantity and variety, now including chicken, turkey, and mac and cheese. If anyone has a recipe for puréed pizza, please send it our way. 

Neurology: we finally got a complete breakdown of our September MRI, pieced together more fully with the genetic results.  BBA is making progress developmentally, but at a slower pace than his peers.  He is now 20 months (19 corrected for prematurity) and hitting developmental stages of a six month old. The MRI shows, as we have known, a symmetrical white matter volume loss.  The symmetry is good; it leads to one assumption of cause and path forward: a post-birth injury/event directly linked to his plummeting blood sugar and the attempts to address it.  This would mean that he would continue to progress on his own pace, not less than at a third the pace of his peers (longitudinally, for example, when he was 9, he would act as a 3 year old). Only time will tell if he would gain independence or develop more quickly than that pace. Option two would be a leukodystrophy which would be catastrophic. We aren’t going down this path of thinking because he continues to develop; it makes this option even less likely than before. We will do a repeat MRI in September and see from there what the answer is. 
BBB: he is fearless and fast!  BBB loves wrestling, much to the annoyance of his sister. He is continuing to learn how to communicate and can say, “more,” “all done,” and “ball.”  For a kid who loves food, most specifically gold fish, what more does he need to say?!?  He is the sweetest of our kiddos…quiet and calm when no one else is. He falls asleep on his own. He loves hugs.  

@littlepund: she is smart.  Too smart.  And she pays too much attention.  She has discovered bows (BIG hair bows) and jeans (and belts…let’s talk about how much additional time this has added to the morning routine). She never tires of coloring or reading books. And if you let her outside she won’t ever want to come back in. Oh, and she’s fast. She continues to practice listening and tries her very best.  

BBA: the crystal ball

Please read to the end.

BBA finally had his long-awaited MRI on September 26, 2016.  It was going to give us the answers we needed to chart a course forward.  The answer was never going to be perfect, but it presented hope.  The results of the MRI showed a white matter volume loss (predictive of neurocognitive outcome; you cannot regrow white matter) that was either associated with a post-birth injury (a one-time event, not an actual “injury”) or a degenerative disease.  On October 12, 2016, we learned we had 90 days until we would find out BBA’s fate.  There would be three possible outcomes.

  1. BBA would maintain his current cognition, but would most likely never gain additional neurologic ability.
  2. BBA would maintain his current cognition, most likely never gaining additional neurologic ability, plus he has an unrelated genetic condition that would have an impact on his ability to develop.
  3. BBA has a neuro-degenerative  or other multi-system degenerative disease which would significantly further impact his life.

Note: current cognition would not preclude him from learning how to adapt, engage, and develop, he would simply do so at an abnormal pace.

Everyone asks for the crystal ball with which they will learn the answers.  We feel fortunate to have been given the chance to know our moment was coming and to prepare for it.  We have spent the last 90 days living our lives, telling few about these three options.  The options were not the end; we had no answers.  Our children are so happy; we wanted to hold on to that reality for as long as we could.

BBA officially received the best and worst from us.  Long eye lashes, giant cheeks, a smile that makes you stop complaining, a great laugh, and everything we have together that tears us apart.  It is a moment as a parent when you stop and reflect on how perfect and imperfect everything can be at a single moment.

Today, January 13, 2017, we learned the path we are headed towards.  As always, it is complicated and unclear.  BBA has three genetic mutations that could result in the myriad symptoms he is experiencing.  He could, technically, have all three disorders or only one.  Each is rare.  The two most common diagnoses are experienced either in only 10 families world-wide or in mouse research.  We have a long way to go before we understand the long-term prognosis, but today there is no degenerative nature of the options (that’s good news!).

It is an odd gift.  We had time to prepare for today.  We had clear options within which we would fall.  We knew on what day our world would change.  To have all of those things is remarkable.  We could shape our lives around this time.  We are figuring out what this means for BBA and our family.  We appreciate your love and support and hope you understand why we did not say anything in the past few months and are, instead, typing this out now.

Our friends and family are amazing.  You have let us be ridiculous, counseled us, loved our children, shown us affection and tough love, texted us individually while we are sitting next to eachother, let us steal your time to gain a few minutes of quiet.  We cannot thank you enough for all you do for us on a single day, let alone the compilation of days we have experienced since July 2, 2015.

BP and ZP

BBA: July and August

At the beginning of July, we took the boys to their one year pediatricians appointment . . . a rite of passage almost.  Everyone has told us that making it through the first year of twins is the hardest.  We took our pediatrician cupcakes to celebrate because of how crazy the year has been and how impactful she has been on our lives.  The visit did not disappoint . . . BBA is almost 19 pounds and his head circumference charted in the 9th percentile (a marked improvement on past readings and a good thing – you want your head circumference to grow as you grow).  BBB is almost 25 pounds and thriving.

Yesterday, we had an appointment with neurology and learned the following:

  • BBA has a chromosome 2 duplication not previously reported in research (a variance of unknown significance).  Essentially, the duplication either means nothing or it is so rare there is not a large enough cohort of patients to do research yet.  Additional testing is necessary and we will glean more information next week at our genetics follow-up appointment.
  • We are scheduling an MRI to get a better look at his brain and optic nerve.  For his brain, we are looking for growth abnormalities to assess areas for caution/concern as he develops.  They think his challenges lie in the basal ganglia which, overall, reduces his risk for seizures and large-scale development issues moving forward.  For his optic nerve, we are looking for strength and size which would help to determine intervention ranging from patching his eyes to glasses to surgery.
  • BBA continues to have amazing cognitive recognition and development and even with the new information, his progress is remarkable.

In other news, BBA’s physical therapist has him standing now (picture below) which gives him a chance to development muscle memory, strengthen his hip sockets with the hope that he gains strength, and PLAY WITH BBB and @littlepund!  The three of them have loved interacting on a different level.  It is amazing!!!

IMG_3495

The last two months. 

I don’t remember much of last summer. I know it came and went but it was buried in the hardest, darkest, worst months of my life that maybe it is best not remembered. Maybe one day the summer of 2015 will be looked back on fondly, but still today I take only two minutes of light from those days. 2:53 and 2:54pm on July 2. To say that the past year has been challenging is the greatest understatement of our lives. We have fought for every moment of calm we have gotten, and we have learned more about our five, and those who support and do not support us, than we ever could have imagined. We got to May and simply had a blur of 10 months of preceding crazy behind us. And so, we decided to commit to fun. To having memories that were not rooted in hard decisions, unfair choices, and anxiety. And in these two months alone we have remembered all that we committed to as people when we met, got married, and had kiddos….that for good or bad we are in this together and it is so much better that way. So, my recap of the last two months…..

Aunt and Uncle weekend: still unknown to us why, K&J offered to take everyone for the weekend. We said yes and spent three days laughing and crossing things off our to do list (the things that are difficult to accomplish when you have tiny hands helping) and sleeping. And, reflecting on how quiet our lives were without our kiddos.

Genetics: we finally got to see the geneticist, and BBA had every feature of his person measured, remeasured, and triple checked. We learned a lot and were left with an inordinate amount of questions. So, an average afternoon for us. We should get the results in early July.

Wedding weekend: another weekend with no kiddos, and in an odd circumstance of events at two weddings in two separate states on the same day. They were each weddings we could not think about missing, so we split up.

Memorial Day: spent at home for the first time in a long time. BBA had been doing better and we wanted to give him more calm before we put him on the car for six hours. It was a good choice.

June 1: we made it through Memorial Day weekend, but BBA was being odd so we took him in for a weight check and ended up at the JHU ER. Long story short, he was fine. He received a steroid shot for his panting and was observed for three hours. We got to go home. Winning!

Ophthalmology: back for our follow-up visit. BBA is far sighted, has astigmatism, and crosses his left eye out and his right eye in. Considering patching or glasses, but he needs more time before they decide. They support the August MRI so maybe we’ll have some more answers by the end of the summer.

The everyday fun: the boys have gotten in the pool and ZP and I have spent countless hours on the floor playing and having ‘tend tea (@littlepund style). We have taught our kids to laugh through it all, picked our first raspberries of the year, sent infinite funny face pictures to Mom Mom and Pop Pop, done FaceTime binges to anyone who answers, done a lot of arts and crafts (including homemade binoculars), stickered every person in our house (living and imaginary), and made a lot of pancakes (real and sand).

First birthdays: determined to celebrate making it through the hardest stuff (and in recognition that this is only the beginning of the hard), we partied the afternoon away today. A week early. It’s funny. You can laugh.

As ZP noted via Insta earlier, they say it takes a village. It’s been a year of ups and downs and all arounds. We have been surrounded this year by an inordinate amount of people who have shown us what friendship is about. Our lives are rarely easy, but it’s always us. That’s what counts.

Thank you.
BP

BBA: the first two weeks

BBA: four long weeks

To get released from the NICU, BBA had to make it six hours without his blood sugar dropping. It was an arduous process, with frustrating setbacks and a new diagnosis we will keep for a while. But he did it. At our endocrine appointment yesterday, we decided it’s time to wean off the medication that is supposedly helping to balance his insulin and glucose. 

We knew that we were going to ask the question yesterday but it is still a bit strange to think we can start this process. If we make it through, we will be down to one medication (for his thyroid) which we will be one until at least age two. We have been at a barely palliative dose of the insulin medication for months now and endocrine thinks his system does not need it. The way to find out: reduce the dose by half for two weeks, testing his blood sugar twice a day. If he makes it those two weeks without dropping his blood sugar, we go two more weeks with no medicine testing his blood sugar twice a day. If he makes it those two weeks, we are home free (theoretically) and just have to test if his behavior changes. So, for those of you with the wherewithal, cross your fingers for a while that we make it through. 

Next stop, pediatrician at the start of the new year. After that we could have a few months of normalcy without doctors appointments every week. Again, fingers crossed. 

BBA: December 

Hello again. We have been on an upswing for the past few weeks, just trying to get through to the end of the year. We have had some ups and downs, but are diligently working to figure out how to address the remaining challenges that exist. One to cross of the list: eyes. 

We met with the amazing pediatric ophthalmology team at the JHU Wilmer Eye Institute on Wednesday to address some concerns about focusing and overall ability to see. It is remarkable what they are able to do for a FIVE MONTH OLD BABY to assess eyesight, and to make repairs to eye structure at this point to eliminate future issues. The visit we long and arduous, but resulted in amazing news. His eyesight is great. There is no damage to his optic nerve. And the focusing issues we are having are most likely a result of his prematurity and he will grow out of them. High five BBA!  

Follow up with endocrine next week and hope for some medication adjustments. Updates on that to follow. 

123 days

I walked into our house this afternoon and was stunned. It was silent and empty. For the first time in four months.  It’s remarkable how loud silence can be.  We have craved it for so long and yet it did not hit me what it meant until today. 

I went back to work today. BBA and BBB started daycare. @littlepund was thrilled to have them “in school” with her. 
It’s strange. The last four months have been the most mentally challenging of our lives. Every day has been hard. While we have reached what has become our new normal, we are also acutely aware that we continue to hold our breaths for the tide to come in and make everything fresh again. @littlepund is thriving. BBA continues to improve, but also continues to struggle. BBB is one of the happiest babies alive…sitting calmly waiting for his turn. 

We have looked forward to today and yet it’s bittersweet. The return to our daily lives was not as momentous as we expected. But I suppose we are also waiting patiently for the day that the new normal washes away and we can confidently say all kiddos are thriving and well. For that we have some more time to wait. 

BBA: update on the past 7 days

Surgery went really well and was by all accounts a success. Since being home, BBA has been eating better, interacting more, and trying to understand what being more comfy is all about. Follow-up appointment this morning proved that he is healing well and can get a bath again (woohoo!). 

Now we can settle in to normal life for a bit. Next anticipated hurdle will come in December with our next endocrine follow-up. 

BBA: we’re off on our way. 

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