Sunday, September 27, 2015

family picture, by chet.

chet drew the cutest picture of our family while we were sitting in sacrament meeting today.
from left to right: matt, holden, me (with the longer girl hair), tad (the really small one!), and chet.
tank is in the front row.

i think that going to school has inspired him to want to learn how to write/draw/hold a pencil properly, and that makes me very happy.
i have tried to show chet how to do those things a whole lot in the past, but he just wasn't very interested.
and he can be stubborn!
lately, i have loved watching him practice his letters, practice printing in between the lines, drawing things other then smiley faces (although, he does make a pretty adorable smily face!), and being creative.
i loooove kid art. it is so dang cute.
i love plastering our fridge with things that our boys have created.

Friday, September 25, 2015

tad is home!

we got to bring tad home on friday, september 18.
he spent a total of 27 days in the hospital.
and, even though he keeps us up at night more then we would like, we are thrilled to have him home!

despite the fact that we are now well versed in NICU stays, i didn't handle this one all that well.
i'm not sure i have handled any of them that 'well', but this time i have cried the most.
i know that there are families out there who have to endure much longer hospital stays - my heart goes out to them - but 27 days seemed pretty long to me.
thankfully, matt was able to take lots of time off work that month. that helped me a ton.

i didn't keep an official count but, i would assume, we made 80+ trips back and forth to the hospital in those days.
(thank heaven for our parking pass!)
(and thank heaven that we got to deliver at the hospital closest to our home!)
although, the 10 minute drive to and from the hospital still managed to be such a sad one.. i was always leaving someone.
the hardest part with tad's stay was being torn between spending time with tad or with chet and holden.
we took the big boys to visit tad every 2 or 3 days, but their attention span is short in a place where there are oodles of rules (holden especially).
so that meant all the other trips were without them.
tad doesn't necessarily care if i am with him - he sleeps 95% of the time and, whether i am at the hospital or not, he was well taken care of.
we even signed him up for the volunteer cuddlers to spend time with him when we weren't around!
but i cared if i was with him.
it's weird when you have a baby that you don't get to take home - all of a sudden, you don't have a baby inside you, but you also don't have a baby to hold.
i felt very anxious when i was away from him.
and, at the same time, i wanted to be around my big boys (the ones who actually care if i am around or not).
they were very good sports about being bounced around between babysitters but, by the end, they were ready to just spend a whole day at home. and i don't blame them.
thankfully, they always got to spend time people they love (grandparents/cousins/friends).
my goodness, we were seriously so blessed in the babysitting department.
i owe a lot of people a lot of thank yous!

the last week of tad's stay was frustrating.
up until that point, we only really ever got good news. tad constantly progressed.
but we spent the last week discouraged by that darn carseat test.
the doctors at this hospital preferred to call it a 'challenge' rather then a 'test'.
but they still used the words 'pass' and 'fail'... so i think that classifies it as a test!
either way, tad is still quite young and the task of sitting in his carseat aaand maintaining his oxygen levels was tricky for him.
after 4 unsuccessful attempts, the neonatologist decided to start tad on caffeine.
the caffeine is a stimulant that should prevent the episodes of low oxygen saturation.
i was sad to start him on the caffeine because 1.) i am not a big fan of medications and 2.) i knew that there were some side effects to it.
but the caffeine worked like a charm. he aced his carseat test after that.
and then... we got to bring him home!

tad is such a handsome little fellow.
oh man, we love him.
(even if i do feel as though death is upon me some times when he wakes us up in the middle of the night!)
in all honesty, he does sleep a whole lot longer then he would've had we brought him home on day 1, so i suppose i shouldn't complain too much.
we are even getting into a pretty good eat & sleep routine.

i am still more teary-eyed then i have been after our other two pregnancies but, thankfully, i am also able to see how blessed i am to have 3 adorable boys, an incredibly helpful family, thoughtful friends, and a husband who has been patient and loving as he has put up with more emotional messes in the last 5 weeks then most husbands probably deal with in a lifetime.
i am one lucky girl.

(leaving the hospital)
(we now fill up every seat in our car. oh dear!)
(the first thing we did when we got him home was hang out on the floor with him - something that would have been frowned upon at the hospital!)
(angry elf.)
(he fits perfectly in my crossed legs.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

our poor garden.

the last couple months, our garden has really been neglected.
we had really good intentions for bring great gardeners again this year, but the early arrival of tad made that tricky.
we went and harvested the majority of our garden the other weekend, before things got too out of hand.
we got a whole lot of potatoes, carrots, beans, zucchini, and tomatoes.
it has been fun to be eating what we grew.
we still need to go back and harvest our pumpkins when it gets closer to halloween.
the pumpkins are what chet and holden are most excited about.
they were also pretty pumped about our watermelons.. until we cut into one and it was all white inside! dang it.

here are the boys with our biggest zucchini.
when we picked it, it was at least twice as heavy as their baby brother!

other then that, i was terrible at taking pictures :(


we get asked if chet and holden are twins a lot.
and, by a lot, i mean A LOT.
i swear, every time we are in public someone asks us!

and, now that tad is here, everyone likes to point out how he looks just like his brothers too.
perhaps, once tad has grow a bit bunch more, we will be asked if the boys are all triplets!

just for kicks, here are picture of chet, holden, and tad when they were all just a couple weeks old.
although they do have their own look, it is obvious that they are brothers!




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

carseat test.

this little piece of perfection officially reached the 5 pound mark.
it's crazy to think that he has almost gained a whole pound already.
his nurse today even said he looks 'chubbier' then the last time she took care of him.
i am very happy that he is growing stronger each day but, i'm not gonna lie, i am kind of sad he is growing up so much before he has even set foot outside unit 76.
when i think about how much he has changed since he was born, it seems like time is going by way too fast.
but, when i think about how badly i want him home, it seems like time is going painfully slow.
i honestly don't know how parents deal with their children being in the hospital for much longer stays.

tad is now 35 + 5 weeks gestation and has been in the NICU for 25 days.

the last thing tad needs to do before he can go home is pass a 'carseat test'.
unfortunately, he has taken it 4 times.. and failed every time.
dang it.
the carseat test is pretty simple. all tad has to do is sit in a carseat for 90 minutes while keeping his oxygen levels above 85%.
when he is laying in a bed, tad's oxygen level easily sits around 90%, or higher.
but, the second we put him in a carseat, his levels drop off.
the first test was the worst - they dropped into the 60% and his lips turned blue.
i am beyond excited to take tad home. i can hardly wait to snuggle with him on our couch without any wires, but i certainly don't want him home if he isn't capable of maintaining those levels - that would be so stressful.
after our 4th failed attempt last night, the doctors have come up with a new game plan.
tad is now taking a low dosage of caffeine to (hopefully) help his keep his levels up.
he will be re-tested on friday.
feel free to cross your fingers that tad will pass that time :)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

another tad update.

this is a late night family selfie at the hospital.
it almost looks like tad is smiling too!
we have spent so much time at the hospital/driving to the hospital/dropping & picking up kids so we can go to the hospital/organizing babysitters so we can go to the hospital.
tad is just 3 weeks old today, but i am so done with the hospital.
we were originally told that tad won't be released until he is 36 gestation (today he is 35 + 2), but we are hoping that he will get sent home in the next couple days.
the doctors have said they don't really have anything to do for him - he is eating and breathing all on his own, and he hasn't set off any alarms in days - so how about we just send him home?!
he is, by far, doing better then both of his big brothers. thanks tad, we needed that!
our fingers are crossed reeeal tight that we get kicked out of the NICU soon.
i think the meltdown i had last night might help.
ugh, i had been doing really good with my emotions the last couple days.
but, last night, when i went to visit tad, there was something that sent me right back to my embarrassing sobbing-in-public state.
unfortunately, i think the hospital staff all think i am crazy now.
but, if that happens to make them want to send us home sooner, they can think i am a total nut!

since tad doesn't do a whole lot these days, most of the pictures of him are pretty similar. haha
but man, he is cute. enjoy!
(passed out after a big bottle)


i had such good intentions of making a big deal of matt's 30th birthday but, due to Tad's early arrival, that just did not happen.
matt didn't care -  he isn't the party type - but i still felt kinda guilty for not fussing over him more.
perhaps next year we can spoil him a bit more!

i am pretty bummed that matt and i are getting so old. where is time going?!
were we not just dorky 18 year olds?

matt is my favorite.. even is he has crossed over into the thirties.
i love him more then he knows.
there is not a chance i would have made it through the past weeks without his sweetness and patience.
happy birthday matt!

(matt requested a cake covered in chewy candies for his birthday this year. apparently you can never be too old for chewy candy!)

Friday, September 4, 2015


we told chet school would start when summer was over.
and today, when we woke up, it definitely felt like summer was over! it was so cold.
so we weren't kidding!

chet has been waiting for school to start for months.
he has been so excited to be a kindergartner.
and today was *finally* his day to begin.

last night, he laid out his clothes, packed up his backpack with all the things his teacher told his to bring, and got to bed early so he wouldn't be tired in the morning.
i thought (and maybe hoped?) that he would be a little sad to go this morning... but he wasn't.
he was such a brave little guy as we walked into school for the first time today.
(thankfully, he wasn't so brave that he didn't want to hold my hand though!)
i showed him the way to his class and his teacher took over from there.
i watched from a distance as he hung up his backpack, put on his indoor shoes, found his name tag, and made his way to the rug.
my goodness, my little chetty seemed so grown up when i walked out of the classroom.
and, in the ridiculously emotional state i am in these days, it was sure hard on my heart.
but i am so happy for him. i know he will love it.
i sure am going to miss him though.
and holden too!
when we went to pick him up, holden ran to chet and gave him a hug.
it was seriously the sweetest thing.
those boys are honestly BEST friends.

i am excited to see chet learn and grow this year, he will do great.

tad update.

tad is 34 weeks today.
he was born 12 days ago.
he has passed his birth weight and now tips the scales at 4 pounds 5 ounces.
he is breathing all on his own.
he takes 50-100% of his feeds by bottle and what he doesn't take by bottle he takes through a feeding tube.
he had his first bath when he was 10 days old.
he had a head ultrasound on tuesday that found a 3mm cyst in his brain. apparently we aren't supposed to worry about that. a follow-up ultrasound was scheduled for 3 weeks later.
all the hospital staff are impressed with how well he is doing - we are often told he is 'mature for his age'.
we anticipate him coming home sometime around his 36 week mark (september 18)
between matt and i, we spend about 9 hours/day visiting him.
he shared a room for 1 night with matt's junior high girlfriend, justine's, baby girl. haha what are the odds?!
he is so. stinkin'. cute.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Tad Herschel Leavitt.

i really thought this pregnancy was going so well.
i really thought this time i might actually make it to full term.
but, alas, i was wrong.
Tad Herschel Leavitt is here. 8 weeks early and adorable as ever.

The Story:

On Wednesday, August 19 the boys and I were all dressed and ready to spend the day at the lake. We just had to stop to run one errand along the way. As we left the store, I picked up Holden and we all started walking to the car. And, along the way, my water broke. Total surprise. I hurried the boys to the car and buckled them in in a panic. When my water broke with Holden, I had literally just a couple minutes before he came out, and I was terrified that was what was going to happen there in that parking lot. But the minutes passed by and I felt nothing. I called Matt at work and he hopped in  his truck and headed home to meet me. When I got home, I plopped the boys in front of a show, got changed, and threw a couple things in my purse for a possible hospital stay. And, when Matt got home, we headed out. Matt's parents took the boys for us while we went to the hospital.

When we got to the hospital, I still wasn't showing any signs of labor. They checked me into triage and began interrogating me asking me a billion questions about what just happened. And after a little while, I started questioning if my water had actually even broken after all! Perhaps I had just peed my pants!? Shoot.. that would be embarrassing. They did an official test to make sure my water had, indeed, broken and knew immediately that I wasn't lying after all. Phew!

I was admitted and, since I was still not in labor, the plan was to do everything we could to help the baby before it arrived. I was given 48 hours of antibiotics by IV to prevent infections that can occur after prematurely rupturing your water, and 2 doses of steroids to help the babies lungs develop. Those 48 were boring and I longed to go home. But I survived, and on Friday, August 21, I was released. The plan now was to try and keep the baby in for 2 more weeks. At 34 weeks gestation, the baby is developed enough that a premature birth is less dangerous then the baby staying inside a ruptured sack. I would be visited daily by an at-home nurse and would follow some basic rules to take it easy.

The day I was released, we finally bought a carseat for baby, new seats for our boys, and a stroller - something that I had been meaning to do for months!

On Saturday, I had my first visit from the at-home nurse. She got me all set up with the paperwork and gear I needed to monitor the baby. It was kinda weird having a checkup on your couch.. but it sure beats being stuck in a hospital. Little did I know, that first checkup would also be my last!

I woke up on Sunday, August 23 at 7:00am to contractions. Real ones. I hadn't felt those in a while! I snuck out of bed and counted them on our couch. They were very consistent but not too uncomfortable. I counted them for just over an hour before going to tell Matt the bad news. I really didn't want to head back the hospital.. I just got home! As soon as I told Matt, he was up and getting things ready for us to leave. I, on the other hand, was taking my sweet time. I guess I was in denial and hoped that things might turn around... but the opposite happened. As I was dilly-dallying along, the contractions instantly became more uncomfortable, and I was all of a sudden more motivated to pick up my pace! Matt woke up the boys, packed them a bag, and organized for his parents to take them.. again. We dropped them off at about 9:40am and got to the hospital by 10:00am. The boys were so sad being dropped off that time. They always have a blast with grandparents and cousins (which was the plan for them that day) but they were worried about me and our goodbye had lots of tears. Not what I needed! But, of course, we were told that that they recovered from that very quickly!

Back to triage we went. This time, I was definitely in labor. I was only about 2cm and 70% along, but they were not sending me home. I was moved to labor and delivery room #1, and the fun officially began.

At that point, contractions were still very doable. I was actually considering going without an epidural. I don't have anything against an epidural, but I had gone without one when Holden was born and thought I might be able to do that again. That changed quite quickly once the pain picked up though! By 12:00pm, I had decided that I did want the epidural. I was checked for progression at that point and had only gone from a 2cm to a 3cm in 1.5 hours. I felt like I had to be much further along, considering how uncomfortable I was, so they called in the anesthesiologist and she took away basically all my pain. What a saint!

When they sat me up to place the epidural, they had me lean on Matt (who stood beside the bed) for support. Neither of us had eaten at all that day, so we were hungry. And the hunger got to Matt in that moment! As they were inserting the epidural, Matt started to feel very queasy and ended up having to be helped to his special dad bed by the window for a lay down and some orange juice. He felt super embarrassed haha.. but I don't blame him for getting queasy, knowing how hungry I was!

Although the epidural didn't work 100%, it was such a blessing. It made me much less stressed. But it also made me soooo shakey. For the remainder of my time in labor I was shaking uncontrollably. 

During the rest of labor, they had to really monitor the baby's heart rate. Every time there would be a contraction, the heart rate would drop quite low. They tried filling my uterus back up with fluids, but that didn't seem to help much. So, instead, my nurse was just constantly rolling me from one side to the other when baby wasn't doing well.

Side note: I think the most common phrase I used this delivery was, "I'm not ready". Because.. well.. I wasn't. Neither of us were. And I was super stressed about how small this baby would be. I like teeny little newborns just as much as the next person, but they told me to anticipate him being less then 4 lbs, and that just seemed way too small.

Anyways, back to the delivery story.. When they first checked my progression, at 10:00am, I was 2cm. At 12:00pm, I was 3cm. So when they checked me at 2:30pm, I assumed they would tell me I was 4cm... but I was 10cm and apparently ready to push. What?! Umm.. I was so not ready for that news! But, despite the fact that I wasn't ready, things went incredibly fast at the point. All of a sudden my bed was transformed into something for me to deliver a baby on and the doctor, resident, nurses, and team of 6 from the NICU gathered in my room for a baby party. 2 pushes was all it took and our handsome boy was here. I suppose that is a perk of having a tiny baby - it sure doesn't take much to get them out! His official time of birth was 2:46pm on August 23, 2015. 4 pounds 1 ounce, 17 inches. He was crying when he came out - something neither of our others did - so that was pretty exciting for us. And, for the first time in 3 kids, there wasn't a huge panic to get him on some sort of machine to breath for him so Matt was able to cut the umbilical cord. After that, baby was handed over to the NICU team and toted off to the NICU.

Matt left for the NICU too. He came back to my room with pictures and details about how our little fellow was doing and then, about 2 hours later, I was able to go see him for myself. He spent the first day on a C-pap machine but since then he hasn't needed any help breathing. And he only needed to have feeds through his IV for the first 3 days. Since then, he has been taking all his feeds by bottle and gavage (feeding tube). He is such a trooper! He has done so much better then Chet and Holden did in their first week and we feel very blessed. Unfortunately, even though he is progressing very well, he will most likely be in the hospital for about 4 weeks. Tad was born at 32 weeks + 2 days gestation and babies don't usually get to go home until they are at least 36 weeks. Bummer. I want him home so bad it hurts.

We didn't officially decide on the name Tad until the next day. We are always a little slow to figure that part out. But Tad Herschel Leavitt is the perfect name for that sweet boy. Chet has cleverly give him the nickname Tadpole and we love it.

Recovery was pretty smooth. I had really bad cramping after, that I have no recollection of from my previous deliveries, but that's about it. I could totally do that again! Not that I am..

It has now been 1 week since Tad joined our family. Tad has been moving forward everyday. We have never had any bad news - it's nuts! And, heck, we are pretty 'good' at this whole NICU thing, in the sense that this is our THIRD round. We know the drill, and have mastered the art of being patient. But, despite all the good, this time around has definitely been filled with the most tears. And I have no idea why. I am pretty good at putting on a show when we are around others, but most of my time at home and at the hospital is very teary-eyed. I am sad, and frustrated, and ridiculously needy for Matt. Our boys used to ask why I was crying and now they just expect it! Hopefully it will pass soon. I decided to try going for my first post-baby run today (almost 1 week to the minute after Tad arrived!) in hopes of that cheering me up. Because, in the words of Elle Woods (Legally Blonde), "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don't shoot their husbands, they just don't." (Not that I have had any desire to shoot Matt.. quite the opposite!)

I am so grateful for our new family member. I was having serious doubts about wanting our family to change over the past couple months - I was scared to mess things up. But, as cliche as it may sound, our family wouldn't feel complete without him now. Tad is 100% sweetness. I love snuggling him and staring at him. I can do it for hours. And I have loved seeing the excitement and love that Chet and Holden have for him. It amazes me how tender their hearts are for him. It will be so much fun when they get to spend more time together.

Welcome to the world Tad Herschel Leavitt. It's a much cuter place with you in it!