Thursday, October 27, 2011

GREAT NEWS!

Asher had a wonderful Pediatric Gastroenterologist appointment this morning! Dr. Tyson was so attentive, even as I went into detail with every symptom and concern. She sat down and looked me in the eye as I spoke, rather than rushing me and forming her own conclusions in her head before hearing me out, as I have had other doctors do with Asher's situation. We were seen in a timely manner, and she was even giving me advice for Eli even though I only made the appointment for Asher. I couldn't have asked for a better appointment; our prayers were answered.

Here's what went down. Basically, she think it's normal but severe acid reflux. This is definitely what I think too; I don't think there are any underlying, more serious problems. However, of course she wants to look into other problems, just in case! So Asher has an ultrasound on November 9th to look for any thickness in the stomach that may be causing him to spit up so much. Immediately after, he has a modified barium swallow study, in which a speech therapist will watch how he sucks when he eats his bottle, to make sure something with that isn't causing him to gag and throw up. Like I said, I really don't think these are the problem, especially since Eli spits up the same amount but just seems less affected by the pain. Also, while Asher's growth is near the bottom of the charts, he still seems to be growing well and is otherwise gaining weight and healthy! He weighed 14lbs even at the appointment today. But, since we've come this far and even the strongest medicine out there isn't helping 100%, we might as well check to be safe.

In the meantime, we are to switch formulas. Again. This will be our eighth formula to try! It's Similac Alimentum, which is essentially the same as Enfamil Nutramigen, which we have already tried. However, we tried the Nutramigen before we knew the culprit was acid reflux, and we switched off of it as soon as we saw Asher's problem was not an allergy to his other formulas. Basically, Alimentum is worth another shot since we know more about what is going on now. This formula should be a little easier for him to digest, and we are to mix it with rice cereal to make it thicker so he's less likely to spit it up. This is pretty much what we already do by using Enfamil AR, but this will make the bottle even thicker and should give us better results. We're going to continue with the Nexium because it does seem to be helping as of recently!

We'll try these things and see Dr. Tyson back in 3 weeks, along with the results of his ultrasound and swallow study! I'm so pleased with the visit today, and can't wait to see more healing for little Asher (and Eli!) in the next few weeks! :)


This is a video of me trying to feed Asher on a bad reflux day. You can see how red his eyes are from crying from just trying to eat :( Notice how he arches his back in pain, classic reflux sign. Also, the screeching you hear is Eli, and yes, that is reflux-related too :( ! It's like he's trying to clear his throat or something to get the pain out of his chest. Makes it very hard to take them anywhere because they would do that CONSTANTLY before the meds starting working! This video was taken even after a week on Nexium :(
video

Hopefully we will go from this:

 ...to THIS soon, with help from Dr. Tyson! :)



 For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 30:17

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Spontaneous Fall Photoshoot

When the boys are being  fussy, taking them outside calms them down instantly 90% of the time. So one fussy afternoon, I took the boys on the front porch and put them in their bumbo chairs. Instant mellow-ness! I couldn't help but notice they had a fall "backdrop" behind them with our recently-made pumpkins, so out came my iPhone and we had us a nice little photo session :) Here are the results!

(Warning: This might get long if I can't decide on which pics to use! ;)

TWINS TOGETHER:





ASHER MAN:









ELI BUDDY:








A LITTLE LAGNIAPPE:

just hangin' out :)

first cold weather stroll

HAPPY FALL Y'ALL!

 Fall is here, and with it brings cooler temperatures (on random days), fall festivities, and happy babies! The reflux has really made an improvement lately, and the boys are just like new babies! So happy and playful! These days, they love sucking their hands, holding their toes, and of course, ROLLING! Their laughs are getting stronger (SO cute!) Eli loves kisses and Asher loves peek-a-boo!

I have TONS of fall pictures already to share with you! First, the babies' first Halloween pumpkins! Check out this adorableness:


Fall-ish overalls :)


Getting our supplies ready:

Here we go!


That feels squishy!


Footprint on a pumpkin.....


(Asher's on left, Eli's on right)


.....Ghosts!!!


The 1st annual Hembree family of pumpkins


 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Reflux Monsters

The Reflux Monsters. Two live at our house. They live inside of sweet, smiling, happy babies and make them unhappy, screaming, hurting babies. They make babies cry; they make mommies cry.

Here's the whole feeding and reflux story, from the very beginning.
First, just the general chaos of feeding twins:

You can't imagine the challenges of twins, especially in those early days, unless you've had twins yourself. The hardest part in the beginning was getting both of them FED. Before I actually had Asher and Eli, it seemed simple enough to me: When one was hungry, feed him, and then wake the other to feed him, too. Simple, right? NOT. For starters, feeding just ONE tiny baby early on would take at least 30 minutes, sometimes as much as 45 minutes, since they were little and still learning to suck. So I'd get the "hungry one" up, start feeding him, and like clockwork, "the other one" would wake and start crying. Now what? I can't get to him since I'm feeding his brother! My solution was this crazy little dance, where I'd have a 7lb baby in one arm, holding a bottle in his mouth with my face, while holding a paci in the mouth of baby #2 with my "free hand", trying to hold him over (for up to 45 minutes!!) until I could finish feeding #1 (and start the 45 minute feeding process over with #2, even at 3am). Seems comical looking back on it, but I haven't forgotten how consumily stressful it was to do this every 3 hours of every day for the first month of their lives.

The moral of the story is, I can now very much appreciate how much those tiny babies have grown in these last 4 months! They are now experts at feeding themselves with the help of bottle proppers, and will soon enough be holding their own bottles. I can also appreciate the 10 hours at night where there are no feedings. Crazy to think that a few shorts months ago, they had 4 feedings in the time they now have just one! When we first brought our babies home, I recorded how much they ate to make sure they were getting enough nutrition and so we could report it to the pediatrician if we saw any problems. They ate about 1/2 an ounce at each feeding in the first week (and it took them 40 minutes)! They now drink 6oz in one feeding, only about 15 mins! Big boys!!

But, the reflux monsters are trying to ruin this progress for us.

The one thing that really hasn't gotten easier for all 4 of us is the acid reflux :( My poor angels. It's been a long road already, and they aren't showing signs of growing out of it anytime soon. This might get long, but I want to write down their story to keep as a record and to be able to share with anyone else struggling with a reflux baby (or two!), because I know hearing other peoples' stories is something that's really helping me get through it.

The first 2 months or so of feeding our babies was hard since they had trouble sucking, and we hadn't yet figured out how to feed two babies at once, as I described earlier; but all-in-all it wasn't so bad. However, starting around 2 months old, we really noticed some changes for the worse when feeding Asher and Eli. It started out as simple crying while being fed. We didn't think much of it, just maybe that since they were awake more that we were starting to see their fussy side. We didn't really notice it was only at feeding time since they were usually only awake long enough to eat and go right back to sleep anyway.

However, it progressively got worse, and I started to make the connection that it must be something wrong with their food. Gas maybe? So we got those mylicon gasdrops. This seemed to work for maybe a day or two, then right back to crying while eating. Although the "crying" while eating had now grown to screaming, pushing away their bottle, refusing to eat, etc. We then tried "gripe water" and "colic calm," both promising to soothe fussy babies, especially due to gas and tummy troubles. Neither of these helped, and I was just convinced that they had the worst gas ever. So we started switching up their formula. The babies came home on Similac Sensitive and some breastmilk (when I found time to pump- ha!). They seemed to do fine on both, but the more I switched over to formula, the more constipated they got. So we switched to formula #2: Enfamil newborn, which is supposed to be sensitive for the little newborn tummy as well. We didn't see a difference, so we tried #3: Enfamil Gentlease, promising to reduce fussiness and gas in just 24 hours! Woot! But, as with the other medicines and formula switches, we'd get a "honeymoon" period where we saw a change for the better for maybe 1-3 days, then it was right back to horrible crying and trouble eating. We tried burping them more (a LOT more, like after every ounce!) to elimiate the "gas," but little did I know, gas wasn't the culprit, so it was doing no good!

The pediatrician recommended trying soy formula because it might be easier to digest, but he swore up and down that it was the mysterious "colic" and could do nothing but promise it would disappear by 4 months. While I believed him, I also wasn't going to wait around for the next 2 months to "see" if it would go away. The fact was, my babies were hurting and I'd try anything out there to help them until the four months was up. Formulas #4 and 5 were Enfamil ProSoBee (soy) and GoodStart Soy. No luck.

I was doing some MAJOR Google searches at this point, desperate to find out what was "wrong" with my babies. Lots of crazy things went through my head during these hard times, being that I was in a desperate place. Why were my babies "broken," why am *I* the one with colicky babies when twins are already so hard as it is, what if I'm stuck in this "colic H-E-double hockey sticks" forever (obviously this wouldn't be true, but like I said, I was desperate, and it was hard!) I got the idea that maybe they had some sort of milk or soy allergy, so we switched to Nutramigen because we've heard from several people that this seemed to "cure" their babies. That was formula #6, didn't work a bit. It was just expensive and smelled bad. I scheduled multiple pediatrician appointments only to get told over and over that it was colic. I cried to our doctor, who just reassured me that my hormones were crazy at this time, and I was still adjusting to life with twins. While I knew something more was going on, he had been a pediatrician for 30 years and probably had seen this 100 times, so I just took his advice and took one day at a time.

A break came during one of my Google searches when I found a mom's story that was eerily similar to mine (although she was only going through this with one baby ;). Turns out, her baby had silent reflux! Same pain and feeding troubles, without all the spit up! AH-HA! This had to be it! Along with her story also came her explanation of how long it took her baby to get diagnosed because there were no real outward symptoms, just her word to her baby's pediatrician that he cried during feedings. The doctor kept proclaiming it was colic. That's when I knew I was in her boat; all this time I thought I was dealing with gas or "colic" and it was REFLUX! I did some more Google searches, and found that Dr. Sears believes most "colic" cases are actually mis-diagnosed silent reflux cases.

For our next step, I got a prescription for Zantac from Eli and Asher's pediatrician when they were around 3 months old. (Well actually, I broke down, cried, and Dan basically begged for Zantac even though our doc was still in the mindset that this was all just colic and stressed out new parents. And why would he not think this, since Eli was eating his bottle like a little angel in the office that day, of course! Luckily, our pedi just left the decision for meds up to us so it worked out). The FIRST DAY on Zantac we were noticing a difference, even though the medicine can take up to a week to work! PRAISE. THE. LORD! Seriously! I finally had normal, happy babies! We also switched to Enfamil AR, which is thicker for reflux babies, but mixed it with Gentlease to keep gas at bay as well (formula #7). Those first 3 weeks on Zantac and AR were awesome. Asher and Eli really started smiling and playing during that time, I could go places with them, and we felt like this is what things were *supposed* to be like with 2 cute, sweet babies.

However, as the days passed, the symptoms slowly crept back up. They crept up so slowly that I didn't notice it had gotten bad again until all 3 of us were having a meltdown during a feeding time, and I realized we were back to how it was a few months prior. And by now, the reflux was no longer "silent." These babies were now full blown "milk fountains" as Dan called them. The spit up just never stopped. So I called the doctor and got the prescription doubled. This didn't work either. I then called the get the meds changed to something else since Zantac was no longer having an effect. After being told that "there's nothing we can do for spit up," I replied that this isn't about the blasted spit up. I don't care how many times we go through outfits and burp cloths, we need some healing for these babies. After 4 months, who knows how raw their poor little throats must be. The babies are now on Nexium. It does seem to work fairly well most of the time, but they are still having trouble with grunting and always seem to try to "clear their throats" by screeching. I have an appointment with a Pediatric Gastroenterologist for Asher (his reflux is worse) in 3 weeks. While the Nexium is somewhat working, I'm not sure what this doctor will do. Maybe Nexium is all he can do for now until they grow out of it; maybe he can work some miracle and get them feeling even better. It's just been a super tough 4 months for babies and parents, so pray that we'll get some real answers at this appointment so we can continue to enjoy our happy, otherwise healthy babies!

So in case you've been wondering why I haven't blogged in the last 3 months, there's your answer! We've been quite busy and overwhelmed, but fortunately have managed to have some great times with the boys in the meantime. I'll be sure to make sure the next post full of happies and smiles and rainbows and....PICTURES, rather than this sad reflux business. But like I said, it's important to me to document this time so we can see how far we've come as a family and to possibly help others with undiagnosed reflux babies!

Love you all!

“O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You have healed me.” Psalm 30:2

(^ I chose that verse because, boy, have I done some crying out to the Lord over this reflux! And He continues to help heal my babies!)

Monday, October 10, 2011

The past 4 months....

At my last post, these little babies were 1 month and 6 days old. They are now 4 months and 18 days old. WHAT?!?! First of all, it's been too long since I posted; second of all babies grow up too fast!

On one hand, it's really sad how fast babies grow. On the other hand, I secretly cherish each day they get a little bigger because it's one step closer to my boys being more independent (which helps me a lot!) and hopefully a step closer to growing out of their acid reflux!!

I'll tell you just how much the boys have grown in these first 4 months of their lives:
Remember, Asher was born at 4 lb 10 oz, and Eli was 5 lb 2 oz. We brought them home when they were each less than 5 pounds at only 2 days old! :( At their 4 month appointment, Asher was 12 lb 9 oz and Eli was 13 lb 6 oz! My dad swears Eli's extra 13 oz is in his cheeks :)

MILESTONES: Asher rolled from his tummy to back the day he turned 3 months old, and Eli did the same the next day! Eli, however, was first with rolling from back to tummy, which he did a little before he turned 4 months. Asher didn't until a few weeks later, but he can now nearly out-roll Eli!

Both boys really are developing their own personalities! In the beginning, I thought I was "making up" their personalities in my head, and I probably was to some extent. But now they are becoming more and more of their own little people and not just helpless babies! Eli L.O.V.E.S. toys. Dan has to take them away sometimes because he gets too excited! He grabs at them, sticks them in his mouth, and kicks his legs everywhere at the sight of toys! Asher is much more subdued; I spend a lot of my day coaxing him to look and me and play. However, this gives Asher the nickname of the "sweet one," since he always looks happy, calm, and content, and never "too active." I also wonder if Asher will be shy, since Eli tends to smile straight at me waiting for more interaction, while Asher gives a small smile and turns his head away :) Both boys have given me very sweet giggles. They are so cute with their tiny personalities!

My favorite times of day with them are first thing in the morning, when they beam and giggle when I reach down to get them out of their cribs. Melt my heart. Also, I love their last feeding before mom and dad go to bed. They are fast asleep, steady sucking on their bottles. Their tiny hands wrap around my finger, their eyes flicker under their closed eyelids, and they make the sweetest sighing/breathing noises. I stare at them and rock them the whole time. I remember to get a good look at them, because they will never be that tiny ever again, even by the next morning. (Seriously, that's how fast they grow).

Well, before I tear up, I'll wrap this post up.

I want to say THANKS to just some of the best people ever who've been a major blessing during these first months!

Dan's parents-- Marianne and Dwight Hembree! Mrs. Marianne is always 1,000% willing to come help at the drop of a hat. She loves the boys just as much as I do (well, almost ;) - she delights in their every milestone and smile! She lets me go on and on about all of the hardships I've had in the early days. And Mr. Dwight was SUCH a trooper coming to spend the night with us in the first weeks of the babies' lives when I needed a b.r.e.a.k!

Melissa Eddy-- the best best friend in the world. What would I have done without you? I'm going to cry writing this; you were my everything during the most exciting and hardest time of my life! You got up at every 3 am feeding with me, you could feed those babies like a pro, you never ever complained! (Well, maybe about our hard couch, but I know you love it now!) You're the best Auntie Mel and we LOVE you!

Whitney Zylks-- I may not always call you for help, but I always know I can call you for help, which is sometimes all I need! You're the best babysitter, and I seriously learn from you sometimes of how to take care of my own children ;)

Eryn Wax (I mean Unglesby)-- Thanks for just listening sometimes; you're the closest person I have in a similar situation to mine, and when I have no one else to tell how excited I am that my baby pooped or how upset I am that yet another reflux med failed us, I can always text you! :)

Annemarie-- You're one of the only other twin moms I know with twin infants, and just knowing that someone else is going through these exciting yet tough times keeps me going sometimes! I love being able to just talk the twin talk with you, no matter what it may be that day! Can't wait for our bundles of joy to meet!

Anyone and everyone who brought us FOOD those first few weeks!-- There were a lot of you so I can't name everyone, but it helped us SO MUCH. Thank you!

Thanks to everyone who has thought about us, said kind and encouraging words to us, checked up on us, prayed for us, etc! We love you!

Ruth 1:8... May the Lord reward you for your kindness ...
-Beth