Weekend in pictures

We’ve had a busy few weeks.

Sebastien is working his second tooth — should be fully out in just a couple more days. Cranial Tech told us he should only need the helmet for about two more weeks. We’re still working on building up the arm strength for crawling — but right now if Sebastien can use his feet for anything, he will! Sebastien went to his first birthday party for a set of twin girls. He had a lot of fun watching them. Today we went to a Halloween party where we rode a train and the merry-go-round.

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Milk donation

It’s been 9 months and I’m still pumping. Wow.

My original goal was to pump until Sam came home. That didn’t happen. After Sam passed, and we returned from our trip, I put Sebastien on a frozen milk diet to start using the frozen milk stash. We bought a chest freezer that’s now full of milk….and this is after I’ve dumped countless number of ounces for various reasons.

Sebastien refused the drink the defrosted milk…turns out I’m one of the unlucky ones with excess lipase in the milk. There’s no fix once the milk is frozen, but if the milk is scalded when it’s still fresh and then frozen, the lipase taste doesn’t exist. Well, that doesn’t help me any. I was beyond upset….I’d pumped for 5 months for what?! At the same time, I was glad I didn’t know. If I had know the frozen milk would taste bad, would I have continued? Probably not.

At this point I just decided that I’d keep pumping, keep providing fresh milk for Sebastien. So now we’re at 9 months, towards the end of when frozen milk is still considered safe. What do I do with it?

When Sam was in the NICU, at one point he couldn’t have my own milk, so he was given donor milk provided by Prolacta. Prolacta collects  human milk from various milk banks and creates milk products specifically for preemies and sick babies. At the time Sam was one of only a handful of babies at our hospital who was given a Prolacta product as they’re very expensive, insurance doesn’t cover it, but the hospital instead absorbs the cost. Once my milk was available for him again, he was switched to mine (he was given the donor milk since the doctors did not want to feed him formula).

One of my preemie mom friends recently decided to donate her frozen milk to a milk bank. She no longer needed it after her son passed away from SIDS. Donating it to other babies in need made her feel better. Previously I had looked up milk donation but then brushed it off because I didn’t have the time to go through the qualification procedure, get tested, etc.

But what am I going to do with this freezer of milk? Toss it?! I just can’t. I worked so hard for that milk. When the boys were still in the NICU, providing that milk was my job, it was the best thing for them. It’s still the best thing for Sebastien, but the frozen milk he doesn’t like.

Milk with lipase isn’t an issue for a milk bank. After all the milk itself is fine. A milk bank pools together milk from multiple donors, pasteurizes it, and makes it into the milk product for babies. (and if there is a funny taste, most babies won’t even notice because it’s being fed to them directly into their stomachs).

So I’m donating my frozen stash. I’ve contacted a milk bank, I’ve done the initial screening. They’ve sent me paperwork that I need to get various signatures on, and I’ll go have a blood test. And my milk will be used to help other babies like Sam. We benefitted from this; others will be able to benefit.

Flashback Friday

These photos are from the boys first week. I got to hold Sebastien for the first time at 6 days of age. And Samuel started packing on the pounds.

Blessed

One day after the boys were born I heard the Elton John song “Blessed.” I wasn’t paying much attention, but then I noticed a lyric and played it again. Tears came rolling. I just always felt this song was perfect for Sam. So much so that every time I drove to the hospital, I played it.

Hey you, you’re a child in my head
You haven’t walked yet
Your first words have yet to be said
But I swear you’ll be blessed

I know you’re still just a dream
Your eyes might be green
Or the bluest that I’ve ever seen
Anyway you’ll be blessed

And you, you’ll be blessed
You’ll have the best
I promise you that
I’ll pick a star from the sky
Pull your name from a hat
I promise you that
I promise you that
Promise you that
You’ll be blessed

I need you before I’m too old
To have and to hold
To walk with you and watch you grow
And know that you’re blessed

And you, you’ll be blessed
You’ll have the best
I promise you that
I’ll pick a star from the sky
Pull your name from a hat
I promise you that
Promise you that you

It took me a while after his death to be able to listen to it again. Sometimes still the song makes me cry because I remember how much hope I had.

One year ago

Just over a year ago, my life changed. My ob at the time only scheduled an ultrasound for week 20. But as a first time mom, I was dying to know more about the baby. I requested an NT scan simply for the ultrasound. This scan must occur by week 13 of pregnancy and measures the amount of fluid in the nuchal fold.

While lying on the table seeing my baby for the first time, my emotions were through the roof, pure excitement. But wait, that looks funny. Am I seeing a reflection?

No.

Ms. Stambaugh, here’s Baby A. And here’s Baby B. And here’s the very thin membrane separating them. What? Excuse me?

Yes, identical twins. My heart dropped. My heart flew. Twins! Twins! OMG, twins. Tears just started streaming down my face. Twins!

At that appointment I learned the term mono-di (Monochorionic-Diamniotic) twins. My twins were identical twins, each in his own sac but sharing a placenta. At this time, week 13, Baby B was measuring a week behind. I realized from the doctor’s tone that this was concerning to be seen so early, but I remember barely processing it at the time. Hello, TWINS! I do remember him referring to a syndrome, remember him describing a potential complication. I also remember him telling me that Baby A’s umbilical cord was implanted into the placenta in the center, while Baby B’s was on the edge of the placenta. I barely paid attention.

I remember leaving the appointment shaking, excited, elated. I couldn’t contain the happiness, and we immediately started telling friends the news. How could we hold it in any longer?

Later that evening, into the next day, I started to remember what the doctor told me, his concern. I turned to Dr. Google. That’s where I learned the term Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) and learned about intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). At this point I didn’t know what I was dealing with of course, but I was scared. My doctor returned my frantic phone call, and her advice was to relax, that I needed to not worry about things.

I tried to take her advice, but it was hard. I was scared.

Flashback Friday

I saw this on another blog and thought I’d do the same. On Fridays, I’ll flashback to the NICU photos.

This is Sebastien and Samuel on their birthday, January 27, 2011.

Names in the Sand

There are many, many ways to remember a lost child. One site I found recently belongs to a woman in Australia who had a stillborn child. One day she went to the beach and wrote her child’s name in the sand, and since then she’s written over 10K names in the sand.

I submitted a request for Sam, forgot about it, and remembered again this morning when another preemie mom who had lost a son posted her photo. Here’s Sam’s page: http://namesinthesand.blogspot.com/2011/10/samuel-bradford-stambaugh.html

I took a screenshot, but when I get the high res photo, it’ll be printed, framed, and hung in my upcoming gallery wall photo at our home.