Saturday, January 26, 2008
The babies did so well on the flight. We hardly heard a peep from any of them, and they have done very well adjusting to being the centers of attention for more than just three people. As for Monica and I, we have done very well NOT being the centers of attention anymore. It is okay though, and we are gladly ready to share the spotlight with the little squirts. Monica and I have had all four of them by ourselves for the first two nights home. We have done well handling the feedings and changings, only having about 9 arguments. The kids are trying to divide Team Parent, but they are failing as we are doing a nice job of teamwork. However, after being alone with them for 6-8 hours it is a welcome sound to hear the door opening in the morning with reinforcements.
Sorry it is such a quick post, but the feedings are calling. We promise more updates and pictures to come. As far as the question about any media, The Wichita Eagle came out yesterday to interview us and take pictures for the newspaper. The story will run on Sunday. Thanks for all the prayers.
Billy, Monica, Pius, Forrest, Danna, and Laine
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Becky holding Pius and Forrest one evening at home.
Next we need to mention the second most helpful person we have had down here. Mark Moore has been our tour guide, our computer tech, our "cook", and so much more. Despite not really knowing either of us before this ordeal, he has never hesitated when we have asked a favor. He has helped us out more than he will ever know and we will be forever grateful. We will really miss spending time with him, and hopefully he will be up to "the Dub" to see our squad soon.
Mark is actively looking for babysitting jobs after he completes the 12-step program for fear of babies.
Another set of people that we need to mention are all of our physicians and nurses, beginning with Dr. Tjaden and his staff. They got us started on our journey by helping us create our little miracles. Our Wichita ob, Dr. Feuille, and Moni's primary care physician, Dr. Nickel, were also instrumental in getting us to Phoenix for care and understanding that we needed the most experienced high risk pregnancy care. The next set of medical professionals that we need to mention are the Phoenix Perinatal Associates. Drs. Elliott, Strong, and Edwards were all amazing, extremely knowledgeable, and so reassuring for us. They were always in our corner and did what was best for Moni and the babies. Another group that we would like to thank are the neonatalogists for the babies. Drs. Slater-Meyer, Leonard, Amar, and Martin have been unwavering in their baby-first mentality. Whether we wanted to hear certain things or not, they always told us what was happening with our children and the plans for their care.
Monica made sure not to let me forget the nurses. Starting with Moni's first visit to the hospital, she always had excellent nurses. There were so many, but she had a few that consistently took care of her including Tallie, Cherise, and Crystal from Banner Good Samaritan 5-B. They spoiled all of us including our visitors, and were always supportive through the good days and the bad. As for the kids, they also always had great nurses. Their primary care nurses, Gwen and Peggy, were especially good to all of us and we will never forget everything they did for us. Although not a nurse, we had the BEST sonotech of all time. Olava, who we always requested and waited for, was such a positive person. She always seemed to have a way with the babies when they were still in utero and they really seemed to behave for her.
Peggy and Danna have lots of secrets they won't tell mom and dad.
Gwen cuddling with Danna and Laine before Laine busts out.
Another set of nurses and medical personnel who took care of us, albeit from afar, were those at Wesley. It seemed that we had a new care package from them all the time, and they donated PTO hours and kept Moni up on all the latest Wesley gossip. We can't wait to get back to see all of them.
We would also like to thank our insurance company. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas has been extremely helpful and understanding of our situation. Thank you especially to our RN case manager, Jenny. Thank you so much for decreasing any possible headaches that could have arisen.
We also need to thank Quik Trip. They were so flexible and so supportive of our unique situation, and even more so, after the kids arrived. My store manager for all but one week, Dan, was so understanding and helpful all of the time. I plan on working at the QT back home, and the people down here have helped to make the transition very smooth.
We also had so many wonderful visitors. Everybody really helped to ease the homesickness. Moni's friends Karen, Deb, and Melody made for wonderful guests. Our friends Yaeger, Goertz, Snook, and Donna really helped us feel like we were back home for awhile. My cousins Steph and Kelly helped make my birthday weekend awesome even though Moni was on house arrest. Moni's brother Paul and his girlfriend Shawnda and sisters Emily, Rachel, and Mollie made special visits to see us. They were wonderful low maintenance visitors knowing that with four children we were unable to entertain too much. My aunt Rosie who was down to visit her buddy, took us out to dinner and spent a fun evening with us. We will take credit for Moni's Uncle Phil and Aunt Cathy even though they came to see Becky. Without all of them our kids would be without proxy Godparents. Our family (Roger, Marsha, Mike, Vicki, Bucko, Ryno, and Lainie) coming over Thanksgiving was home away from home. They definitely made us feel comfortable and special through the holidays.
We would also like to thank St. Gregory's Catholic Church. Frs. Dougherty and Sandberg and Deacon Carmen really helped us to stay connected with our faith. They were also there for us with getting the babies their emergency baptisms.
The Tubres have been our saving grace on more than one occasion. From telling us what questions to ask, to giving us a heads up on the adventures of parenting quadruplets, to letting us gripe about certain policies and people that we crossed at the hospital, they were a supportive outlet for us so many times. They also gave us a good start on our preemie clothes even though Pius and Forrest are already too big for them. We cherish the friendship we have developed and thank God that He put them in our lives. We are even thankful for DeeDee despite the poor gambling karma shared between us.
We would also like to thank our family and friends who have already signed up to help when we get home. Kelly said that she has already started receiving emails from many family members and friends letting her know what and when they can do things. The schedule is going to be a great way to make sure that everyone is getting time to visit and we aren't getting too overwhelmed with people. Thanks again.
And finally, to all of you, our faithful commenters and supporters. You guys have kept us entertained throughout the worries and the joys. You helped us stay positive and helped the slow time before the babies came pass quickly. We are so thankful for all of your thoughts and prayers.
Well...another new chapter now begins. We are so excited to be home and see what surprises these guys have in store for us. As long as you guys are interested we will keep our little blog going. Until next time...
Billy, Monica, Pius, Forrest, Danna, and Laine Graf
Sunday, January 20, 2008
As for the little hellions that are living with us now, they are doing well. They keep Mommy and Daddy up all night, and are hungry again first thing in the morning. Funny how you actually need to feed them all the time. More to come in the next couple days. Forrest is hungry...imagine that.
B, M, P, F, D, and L
P.S. Thank you to Mom, Bucko, Lainie, Rachel, Terri, and Bertie for cleaning our house in preparation for our homecoming. We will be home to destroy it shortly.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Now onto more current news...We now have the three boys home. Danna (the cheese) is left alone at the hospital. It didn't take long and she had a new roommate. Her roommate is a triplet and Danna let her know that triplets are no big deal, really.
Moni and I really think that Laine might be an angel sent from the Good Lord. Between Pius and Forrest, we were running pretty ragged. Pius would NOT sleep from around 2 in the morning until about 6. Forrest could not be consoled from around 1 in the afternoon until around 4. Laine, our little calming influence, came in and seemed to straighten things up. Moni and I probably had our best night of sleep since we had ANY of them home (we average about 3-4 hours a day). All three of them were perfect angels and required just a little maintenance throughout the night. We hope this trend continues and Laine isn't just masking his true intentions. We really think it might be for real because all of his nurses told us that he was one of the sweetest babies they had cared for.
Big Poppa: He had his first doctor's appointment yesterday and he passed with flying colors. As a matter of fact, his doctor said that he is at the top of the growth chart for babies born at his gestational age (31 weeks). He weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces. You can see the doctor wasn't lying. He has been spitting up a little bit after feeds, but the doctor said it is nothing to worry about and gave us a few tips for trying to prevent it. His first two nights at home were a little scary for mommy and daddy, but we have since got into the groove with him and we did well with the adjustment.
Frosty: Just when we started to figure out Forrest, Pius came to join the party. You know those little onesies that say, "Party at my crib, 2 a.m.?" Well if the shoe fits...Forrest was doing a nice job with the sleep until Pius showed up. Those two together formed quite a team of a little terrorists. He has continued to thrive at home, and yesterday at Pius's doctor appointment he weighed in at 7 pounds, 13 ounces. Just so you guys know kind of what we are dealing with, Monica weighed him with all of his clothes on the first time and he weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces. We knew that couldn't be right so we stripped him down and found the culprit in his diaper for the weight. Ryno, since math wasn't your strong subject, that means that there was 6 ounces of "Forrest goodness" in britches.
Little Man Laine: Before we delve into Laine, we would like to preface our thoughts with the reminder that we get to change our minds about him or any of them at any time. As we said before, our angel got to come home last night. He really has been a great addition to the other two stooges. He must have said something in "infant language" to the Twin Towers about behaving. When he got home, the behavior really did straighten up. Before we left the hospital he was weighing 6 pounds, 1 ounce. They told us that he was eating between 55-65 cc's (30 cc's equals 1 ounce) at each feeding and we can easily attest. The three boys are eating Moni out of breast and home. So far we have been lucky and Moni has been able to keep up with all four of their appetites with her pumping. Hopefully that will continue.
Danna Banana: She continues to amaze us and the professionals with her capabilities. She is off all oxygen and taking all of her feeds (and then some) at each feeding. She received her 2 month shots tonight and did very well. We are hoping to bring our little "Diva" home on Friday or Saturday. If she doesn't have any setbacks and she passes her carseat test, our family will be complete by the weekend. She weighs 3 pounds, 14 ounces now and is steadily climbing up the scales. It is hard to picture her being Pius's birthweight, but the scale doesn't lie. She is still being politely called "feisty" by all of her nurses. That makes daddy grin and mommy grimace.
This is how they were acting most of the time we were trying to pose them.
We definitely need to let everyone know about the help that Becky has provided. Not only has she made it possible for us to come down here in the first place, she has babysat for us a couple of times so that we can run errands. She is our guardian angel and we thank God so much for her.
We also needed to mention another rule that we forgot (our NICU friend, Melody, reminded us about it). If you are over at our house and need to smoke please bring something to cover up with or change into while you smoke. Like EVERY other rule, it is not pointed at anyone in particular and non-negotiable. That rule goes for everybody, including ourselves if we are in that kind of mood.
One more thing before we wrap this one up is about the scheduling. Kelly has received a couple of your emails and they are duly noted. She does have a job that requires 40-60 hours a week, and may not have time to respond right away. Please trust that she is getting them, and she will be in touch when she gets a second. Thanks again, Kelly, for orchestrating our helpers.
Graf Quad Squad
P.S. Now, not only are mom and dad reading the comments, but the three boys are looking at them too. They have been a little disappointed with the responses thus far, but Moni and I are telling them to keep the faith. The commenters always come through.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Thought you'd all enjoy a little video of the boys being cute. We'll post more pictures sometime later, being that Laine is scheduled to come home tomorrow!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The two little ones are thinking about coming to join the party shortly. They are both off oxygen and their feeding tubes, and taking their feeds "ad lib." This means that they can be fed as much as they want whenever they show signs of hunger. They have continued to gain weight well with Danna weighing almost 4 pounds, and Laine weighing around 5 and a half pounds. As far as the big fellas weights, we will get updated weights tomorrow at Pius's appointment.
Now, as for the big homecoming we feel like we need to present you all with the regulations suggested to us by the kids' doctors:
1. In order to meet the kids you will have to have had your flu shot at least 7 days prior to visiting. You can visit the health department or your doctor should be able to give you one.
2. We are going to ask that if you are wanting to come over you please give Moni or me a call first just in case we have something else going on, or too many visitors over already.
3. If you are coming from your work, we ask that you either bring a change of clothes or stop by home to clean up. We will also be asking people to remove their shoes at the front door. So Ryno, at least bring a change of socks and your velcro shoes so it is easy for you.
4. Please do not bring children that are not in high school yet. We HATE to make this a rule, but it is actually a hospital-wide rule as well. It is only temporary until the babies get bigger, and we feel that the RSV season is over (RSV in immunocompromised preemies can make them very sick or can even be deadly).
5. Obviously, if you are not feeling 100% healthy, or if someone in your house is sick PLEASE wait a little longer before you visit us.
6. When you do visit, you will be asked to wash your hands thoroughly on arrival, before handling a baby, and throughout your visit. We will have some hand sanitizer at the house, but feel free to bring your own and apply whenever the thought crosses your mind. It is amazing how much infection can be prevented through hand washing.
7. While we will need help with baby holding, feeding, and diapering, please remember that there may be days when Mom or Dad have been unable to spend necessary bonding time due EACH baby. We may want to be the ones handling the babies at the time of your visit, but don't worry I am sure we will be able to put you to work somehow.
8. When you do hold the babies we ask that you refrain from kissing them on the face. We know that they are irresistible and all, but this is just another way to prevent the spread of germs.
We do reserve the right to alter or add to the rule list if we think of anything else. We hate to make all the rules because we are as excited to show them off as you are to meet them. However, after talking with the doctors and with each other we have decided that we have invested too much time, effort, and money into our children to put them at any unnecessary risk. Please do not take offense to anything we are asking. We are not directing any of these rules at anybody in particular, and we can assure you all that the rules will be the same for everyone. We are planning to have an open house when the weather warms up, and their doctor and we feel they are ready.
After we have been home for a week or two, and have figured out what we are going to need, we will start scheduling helpers. We were a little bit afraid of having 26 people one day and nobody the next so we have asked Kelly Graf to be the "Graf Quad Care Coordinator". She will be in charge of who is going to come over to help and when and what they are going to be doing. She will be in direct contact with us so please work with her and let her know when and what you would be willing to help us out with. Like we said before, we know we will need more than baby holders, so please don't be offended if Kelly asks you if you would like to do something other than hold. Kelly has set up an email address for the helpers. Please use this to set up your times. It is firstname.lastname@example.org. Kelly will make sure that all of you are getting to come over and be a part of it, but please remember that there are SO many Graf Quad Squad supporters that want to help so please don't be like Pius, and have a little patience. We are planning to keep our blog going upon our return home so you all will be able to keep track in between visits.
It is so exciting to be talking about coming home with four healthy babies. We can't wait to see everyone, and would like to say in advance how much we appreciate all of your help and patience on our return. We promise pictures and maybe a video in the next couple days.
The Graf Quad Squad
B, M, P, F, D, and L
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
All four of them continue to eat well and are doing remarkable considering they aren't even supposed to be born yet. They would have been due on January 21st. As for their names, many are probably wondering where we came up with such "odd" names. We agree, they are kind of different. We thought that we would use this post to enlighten everyone on the childrens' namesakes. Pius James is named after my maternal grandfather, Pius (Papa) Selenke, and Moni's father, Roger (Papa) James Haag. Forrest Michael is named after Moni's maternal granddad, Forrest Dewey, and my father, Michael (Gampy Stubby) Graf. Danna Lynn is named after Moni's maternal grandma whom they called "Dana", Doris Dewey, and my mother Vicki Lynn Graf. And FYI, Danna is pronounced like "Anna" with a D. Laine Ryan is named after my maternal grandmother, Elaine "GG Bucko" Selenke, Aunt Lainie and Ryan Seacrest (we really love American Idol, it has NOTHING to do with Uncle Ryno Graf). Just kidding...I hate American Idol.
Forrest is finally warming up to him, little does he know of Pius's dinner plans.
Thank you to everyone who has left comments. Even those who we don't know that have commented, it is good to know we have thoughts and prayers coming to us from all over the world (don't worry German peeps Tina and Maik, and Emmy and Andy, we know who you are).
We can't think of anyway to end this other than to say what we have already said and MEANT a thousand times. We love everyone, thank everyone, and can't wait to get home.
The Graf Quad Squad
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
We had a little surprise the other day when we walked into the babies' rooms. Danna lost her roommate and Laine not only acquired a new roommate, but got a bedmate as well (he moves quickly. Watch out, Abbey). Pius and Laine are now co-bedding (at least until Pius is discharged). It was so amazing to see them together and interacting with each other. Their size difference is incredible! I think Laine was worried Pius would eat him for lunch, and Pius was probably thinking, "Hmm, that looks like a tasty little morsel!" How cute.
Danna was just chillin' in her isolette, looking around. She's been very active and alert from about 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm each day, and she expects to be played with at that time. Just another one of her many demands.
This is a short post, but it's better than just posting the pictures. More to come later!
The Graf Gang
P.S. Way to geaux LSU! Because Billy and Forrest predicted the win (and the overs) we can go buy groceries! Woo-Hoo! LSU.....Championship!!!
Pius licking his chops. Laine oblivious to the danger.
Danna Banana....Does she look like a Dewey?
Here, Laine. Let me help you out with removing that feeding tube.
Another shot of Pius in all his chubby glory.
This is a VERY short video of Forrest getting a bath. My camera ran out of memory while recording it. He started screaming just after this little snippit.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Our "big Poppa" Pius was scheduled to come home on Sat or Sun, but he decided he wasn't ready to leave his favorite nurses in the NICU. On Friday, he had an episode of bradycardia when he was sleeping. He stopped breathing long enough to cause his heart rate to drop (that's the bradycardia) and the nurse had to leave Danna's bedside to go stimulate Pius to breath. Because of this, the docs wanted to watch him a little longer, and he'll have to go 5 days without any more red marks. If he has any more episodes, they'll have to start the 5 day count over again. He's still doing great, along with all the others and gaining weight like crazy. He is also still oxygen and feeding tube free and it's great to be able to see his whole face without all the tape and tubes! He has dimples to go along with his little "butt chin" and fat head. He currently weighs 7 pounds, 3 ounces and has outgrown all the preemie clothes. The nurse squeezed him into one yesterday and it looked like a muscle shirt.
Frosty had his first doctor appointment last Friday and passed with flying colors. The docs said he looks great (which Forrest is fully aware of already) and we just need to keep doing what we're doing, including giving him a baby mohawk every time we brush his long, blond hair (I just can't resist it). He does have a small umbilical hernia that is pretty common in preemies. His belly button just looks like a big outtie. Between Billy, Becky and me, he is being fed every 2-3 hours on average. He takes breast milk mixed with some higher calorie formula called EnfaCare, and he can also breastfeed up to 2 times a day. He has gained weight since his hospital discharge and is probably around 6 pounds, 15 ounces, or so. Not really sure since we don't have a scale at the apartment, but he was about 6 pounds 13 ounces at his Friday appointment. Also, I'm proud to say that he has peed all over Billy's face a couple times now. I told him he should have been using the pee-pee tee-pees that Mary sent, but I guess it'll take a few more squirts to the face before Billy starts to listen.
See, Jac, the pants don't ALWAYS have to be hiked to their neck!
Forrest showing off his lil' mohawk after a bath
Ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin' alive, stayin' alive....
Too close, mom, too close! My girlfriend, Emma, will see all 3 of my chins!
The little stinker after giving Miss Becky such a hard time
Little man Laine got a bath yesterday and enjoyed some snuggle time with mom. He took 30 of his 40 mL bottle and then tuckered out. I think the bath before the feed may have taken the energy he needed to finish those last 10 mLs. He's still such a sweet little boy and usually only cries when it's warranted. I keep waiting for him to throw a fit for no good reason, but he just lays there and stares at you like, "What more do you want from me? Back flips and cartwheels?" He continues to gain weight like he should and is now up to 4 pounds, 15 ounces. He's really starting to fill out and even has those big, beautiful Selenke lips like Grandma Vicki and Uncle Ryno.
Mom and dad are still doing just fine. Enjoying our first baby at home, as well as the time away from the baby at home in the beautiful 70 degree Phoenix weather. Billy and I have done a good job of taking turns with feeds and getting up or staying up 'til all hours of the night with Forrest.
In our last post, I forgot to say congrats to Bob and Janeen Smith on the arrival of their little girl, Erin Noel. Wish we could've stopped in to see you all when we were in town, but it was good to at least see Bob at Players. Hope things are going well with all 5 of the kiddos!Jaclyn, hope the "boob infection" is getting better. It sucks, I know. Thanks for all the tips and advice from our last conversation. I'll call you about what I found out about the formula measurements.
Thanks for all the continued support and prayers! A huge thanks to all my Wesley friends who were able to donate some of their PTO hours to me. That helps SO much with the insurance dilemma we have been facing! We really can't thank you enough.
For those of you who we've talked to that say, "Oh, I check your website all the time!" but never comment (you know who you are), you'd better start giving us shout-outs, even if it's just a quick note to say hi and you're reading! Your comments are sustenance for us!
Also, we'll be getting more recent pictures of Laine and Pius when I visit them after church today. We'll post them as soon as we can.
Billy, Moni, Pius, Forrest, Danna and Laine
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Forrest getting ready to pass his car seat trial
Paul and Shawnda at the restaurant, Z Tejas