Friday, January 30, 2009

It's Moni Day!!!

It's finally my day...I hope Billy doesn't do anything stupid.

Four of my favorite ladies in the world.

Look what she put herself through!

Hi everyone. We finally have the grand finale of our family's big month of January. Moni is the only one who can actually claim a real ownership on a day in January. On January 30, 1981 the Good Lord sent the best little girl down to the world. Monica Deann Haag was born at (I have no idea of her birth weight or birth time that is just how I started out the kids' posts). From all accounts, Moni has been a very good person throughout her life. She has always received straight A's and had almost perfect attendance and behavior marks. I am hoping our kids get Monica's gene of determination and hard work.
Getting ready to become a scholastic stud.

Moni's 8th Birthday. Twenty years ago today...

Paul, Moni, Mollie, and Brandon

Can you believe she was already that hot when she was six?

Happy Birthday to Moni.

I think I am going to basically tell the Moni and Billy story. Monica came to Bishop Carroll our sophomore year. I met her on the first day because her locker was caddy-corner below mine. She was gorgeous, outgoing, funny, and tall. As we got to know each other better I started to look forward to passing period more and more. I hoped she would go to her locker in between classes. Towards the end of our sophomore year together, I really started to put on what I thought were the charms. She completely ignored me.

Sooooo HOT! She is beautiful.

The summer in between my sophomore and junior year of high school I told A.J. (who was and still is my best friend) that I was going to go after Monica Haag hard the following school year. A.J. can vouch for me. At summer weights I talked to Moni's little sister, Emily, constantly...about Moni.

When the school year started up I was so pumped to have Moni in a couple classes with me. The one I remember best was religion class with Sr. Mary Ann. Since our names were so close (Haag-Graf) I sat right behind her. I was ALWAYS asking her to go out with me. She was ALWAYS turning me down. Now...some of you are new to the pictures of us, but I have to say that back in the day, 75 pounds ago, I was what one would call a "hottie." I was NOT used to being turned down, especially two and three and fifty-seven times. I decided to take matters into someone else's hands...Garth Brooks.

Garth Brooks was doing a concert in Wichita and had been sold out for a couple of weeks. I asked Moni, in Sr. Mary Ann's class, if she would go out with me. She said no...again. I said, "What if I can get tickets to Garth Brooks?" She said, these were her exact words, "If you can get tickets to Garth Brooks I will go out with you. There is no way you can get tickets to Garth Brooks, so I guess there is no way I will go out with you." My man Brad Goertz, a.k.a. Frank the Tank, a.k.a. Fun Bobby, a.k.a. Goertzie, a.k.a. Pedro made it happen. I took the tickets to class with me, showed them to Moni, asked her again if she would go out with me, and she finally said yes. I had to bribe her to go out with me. What is that?

We went on the date, I charmed her socks off, and the rest is history...Well, kind of. You see, Moni and I are A TON alike. We don't pull any punches. We don't care who sees us get pissed. If one of us thinks we got wronged we are going to throw down. It doesn't matter where. The hallways, the parking lots, the gym, the weightroom, our friends' houses, our houses, church, Buffalo Park, and on and on and on. For that reason people thought that we were too volatile a couple to ever make it. Our parents, our friends, our siblings, our grandparents, our cousins, and on and on and on. Moni and I always knew. The rest was history.

Everybody claims Forrest and I are look-alikes, but after seeing this picture I think Moni had a hand in Forrest's good looks, too.

Let's just go ahead and fast forward to two years ago. It was mid-May when we found out we were pregnant. We had tried and missed a couple times (I don't use the term failed because we hope to meet our first two that we missed on at some point). Moni woke me up to take the test. Let me just say that Moni NEVER wakes up early, but she was so excited. We went into our sonogram when Moni was six weeks along to find out "how pregnant." We found out. I was excited, Moni was realistic. The doctor who helped us to conceive (Dr. Tjaden) was terrific with helping get us set up in Phoenix. He wrote the necessary letters, told us who to call, and even set us up with a family who had already used the Phoenix Perinatal Associates. Everything just kept falling into place.

Dr. Tjaden meeting our "Twin Towers"

When we got down to Phoenix I fell in love with Moni all over again. Becky, Moni, and I kind of felt like the three amigos when we first got down there. None of us knew anybody else there (we met and got to know my mom's cousin Mark and he took the best care of the three of us and Moni and I, and I'm sure Becky, have made a friend for life). There were some nights when Becky would get called in and it would just be Moni and me, against the world. She was incredibly strong while we were down there. She NEVER complained too much. She didn't whine, she didn't feel sorry for herself, she always had the babies on the top of her priority list, and she was a spectacular football watching buddy for me. Monica amazed me so much while we were down there with how much she knew me. She knows that I extremely tight with my family and friends and I really think she made it a point to take their place. She always knew when my teams played and she watched every down of every game with me. What an incredible person to have in my life.

When the day came for the babies to come she was so strong and confident. I know that she knew all of the risks that we were facing that day. I never saw her scared, though. Even when she was in the middle of the birth she was so strong and it gave me confidence. As we went through the ups and downs of having children in the NICU she was always upbeat. I think Monica knows how much I respect her medical opinion and I think there may have been times when she wouldn't tell me or her family the "bad-case scenarios."

As we started bringing the kids home Monica continued to amaze me. She always has been a "night owl" but the kids brought out a new energy. She woke up in the mornings when I went to work and stayed up late because I had to wake up early. She never complained or let me know what the "score" was at. Monica just did what had to be done and taught me how to do all of the things that had to be done, too.

When we got home it was more of the same. She taught me and others how to provide the kids with care that was specific to preemies. She teaches the kids almost all of their tricks and all four of them adore her. When she wakes up in the morning the kids just light up. Their favorite times seem to be when the six of us are together playing.

Monica works almost full-time. She is a mother overtime. She is a wife overtime. She is always supportive of me. I am a 28 year old college student and she doesn't look down on me or complain to me. She tells me to get it done and she offers help whenever she can. I love my wife so much. She is my best friend.
Happy Birthday Sweet Moni. We love you so much!!!
Daddy, Pius, Forrest, Danna, Laine

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's Danna Day!!!

"Strike a pose....It's MY day!"

Hi everyone. January 23 marks the day that Danna busted out of the NICU. Danna had the longest stay in the NICU but she probably had the smoothest ride out of all the babies. She, from the beginning, seemed to require the least oxygen, had the least bradycardia episodes, and picked up the bottle feeding probably the easiest of the four (even with that tiny little mouth of hers). The reason for her extended stay really had nothing to do with any health problems but was more because of her size.

Danna Lynn Graf was born at 4:41 p.m. on November 19, 2007. She tipped the scales at a whopping 1 pound, 10 ounces and measured a giant 12.25 inches (I want you to look at your hand and visualize her size. It helps put things in perspective).

From the beginning we knew we had quite the little princess on our hands. While the squad was still in the womb, Danna was always curled into a ball right next to Pius. Our biggest complication during the pregnancy was the fact that Danna had IUGR or"intra-uterine growth restriction." We found out at 25 weeks that Danna's umbilical cord and placenta were not functioning correctly. It had nothing to do with anything else. The boys weren't hogging all of the nutrients, Danna just couldn't receive what she needed because of her faulty cord. This condition can happen just as easily with one baby as it could with four. It was at this time Dr Elliott told us of decisions we would have to make in the near future. He informed us that we needed to think about and discuss with each other what we would want to do if Danna took a turn for the worse. We could: A) Deliver all the babies the moment she hit that crucial point, even if we were only in our 26th or 27th week of the pregnancy, or B) Continue with the pregnancy for the sake of the other 3 and let nature take it's course with our baby girl. Obviously not a decision ANY parent EVER wants to make. We told him right there and then that we came to Phoenix to have FOUR babies and we'd put our faith, our trust, and our babies' lives in God's hands. NO ONE LEFT BEHIND.

I must apologize if any of this is repetitive....but the story of their delivery (which was completely on "Danna Time") went a little sumpin' like this: I went to work on November 19th like normal, I got off around 2 and called Monica to see how things were going. She said to stop by the apartment to grab our Broncos gear (Denver played a Monday night game against the Titans) and then we could notify the staff that we were ready to do the daily ultrasound. Because of Danna's pint-size condition, they were checking her Biophysical Profile daily and would get all their heart rates at the same time. When I got to Banner Good Sam hospital that afternoon, they wheeled us down to sono. We began everything like normal. The tech checked the boys' rates and then went to do our routine "Danna watch." Up to this point Danna had always passed with flying colors, receiving 6 or 8 out of 8 on her "daily quiz". However, as soon as we started monitoring Danna that day, we knew she wasn't going to pass this one. Things didn't look right from the get-go. She was moving VERY little, she wasn't "practicing" her breathing, and her heart rate was beginning to slow. Dr. Edwards immediately came down and told us it was time to go if that was our decision. There wasn't even a pause in our response, as we had talked about this "worst-case scenario" already. Like I said before, "no man left behind". So, 45 minutes later, we went from a family of 2 to a family of 6.

I've GOTTA get this girl a blue and orange headband!

Over the next couple of months Danna gave us a little preview of what to expect for the rest of our lives. Everything had to be just perfect for our little princess or she would squeal and let us know that something wasn't to her liking. It could've been that her diaper was wet, or she didn't like her position in her isolette, or she wasn't getting enough personal attention....You name it and it probably pissed her off at some point of her NICU stay.

When we first got the Banana-girl home, I remember asking myself, "Is she always going to be like this?" The first couple weeks she was extremely moody. Only her mama, her Great-Aunt Renee, her grandma Vicki, or I could even have a chance to calm her down. And let me stress that word, chance, again for good measure. Sometimes even WE didn't work. We have to remember, though, Danna had spent her entire life in the NICU and then all of a sudden everything was entirely different. She got out of the NICU, she came in to a busy apartment where we were getting ready to pack up and leave the next day, she flew on a plane (albeit it was a fancy private jet), and then she got to our house where there were a ton of people around sometimes. Up to that point, she had never been in a room where there was more than 5 people at one time. I am sure it was quite the culture shock.

Since her first month at home she has been a completely different baby. Danna is EASILY the best behaved now. She entertains herself, she plays with her mom and dad and keeps US entertained, she eats well (extremely slowly, but very well), she sleeps well (extremely lightly, but very well), and she really is our "Pretty, Pretty Princess." Don't get me wrong, we still go through our "Danna Times" every once in a while: She wants to be picked up NOW sometime, she wants to get up from her nap or her night's sleep NOW sometimes, she wants her diaper changed NOW sometimes. Once someone caters to her needs, though, she is perfect. She is such a good, content and sweet little critter.

Danna has four favorite people in the world: Daddy, then Mommy, then Grammy Vicki, then Aunt RayRay. There won't be any argument from Moni that she definitely is a "Daddy's girl." She is always happy with me. I have taught her not to trust any man except for the guys that I like (yes, I'm starting her early on this). She will now go to Stubby, Ryno, Sergio, Godfather AJ, and Grandpa Rog. And that's really about the entire list of men that she will actually crawl to and allow them to pick her up. She will let some guys hold her, but rarely does she crawl to a man. Perfect. Danna also loves her mom and her GrammyV. If Vicki puts her down and picks up one of the boys ,Danna lets her know that that is completely unacceptable. Danna has claimed Grandma Vicki as her own when the boys are around. It is pretty hilarious to witness.

Danna fixing her hair for the camera. Just as happy as could be in Grammy's arms.

Along with her favorite four, Danna also has three least favorite people in the world. Pius, Forrest, and Laine have yet to earn Danna's trust. All three of the boys will be so gentle and loving (when Moni or I are right there telling them to be) but Danna rarely will have anything to do with them. She also likes to be left alone playing with her toys (I use this term loosely...she will actually choose to play with a piece of string rather than ANY of their baby gadgets). The boys will all try to steal her toys but she knows if she screams and Mommy or Daddy see it happen, she will get the toy back. She is becoming a tad bit rotten, but we are planning on nipping that one in the bud (maybe) when she learns English and is able to reason a little.

Danna, when I found out we were having quadruplets, I asked God for ONE girl. I did want a girl, but I wanted it to be A single girl and not the plural girlS. I have to thank God again because He gave me the best one in the world. We all love you so much. You are my Pretty Pretty Princess and mommy's little peanut.

Still so tiny. Look at how that newborn sock fits on her left foot. We used to have to put tape around the cuff to keep them on.

Gettin' some Kangaroo Care lovin' from mama. It's hard to grasp how small she was unless you were able to hold her.

Danna's skin was so thin, you could see her loops of bowel. They kept a close eye on her belly because it got distended easily and quickly....a major concerns for preemies.

Our miracle angel baby

We still laugh at this picture when we see it! Funny little alien baby didn't help that the hat was a little snug, even for her little noggin.

Pitiful. Just plain pitiful.

Still not much bigger than a football at 3 months old

Whoa, gotta watch that umbilical could poke an eye out! It's totally resolved now, thankfully, and didn't give her any problems.

Her Royal Highness. Here, Danna is modeling her first of MANY tiaras.

Got a little Pius-Laine sandwich. This is Danna's classic "serious" face. It takes ALOT to get her to smile for strangers. Usually she's very stingy with them until she gets warmed up to you.

Danna used to LOVE this Bumbo chair.

Just because she loves her Tygerman doesn't mean she has to love his team!

Mama can't resist those tiny little piggies! I foresee lots of mother/daughter bonding time doing girly things in the future!

Baptism Day with Godmother Aunt Lainie and proxy-godfather, Great Uncle Jim

Uncle Jim.....just one of the many victims Danna has wrapped around her finger.

Daddy with the apple of his eye

One of the few men she allows in to her circle of trust. Danna likes the fun sounds Sergio can make come out of his mouth.

Grampy Stubby's 2 little princesses....Danna Banana and Aunt Lainie Rosie Posie Toesie

Still doesn't have quite enough hair to rock a pony tail....but we'll give it a solid effort anyway!

This is what happens when you wake up earlier than the rest from a nap. Mama found stickers and can't bear to throw perfectly good things away without getting a LITTLE use outta them first! What a trooper.

I think Forrest swapped Danna's halo for his horns.

This little girl can scrinch up her face in every which way. Sometimes she smiles so hard, it looks like it hurts.

Our little Dorothy from KS

Aunt Jac....another person Danna called dibs on. She is the biggest cuddlebug and is perfectly content with laying on someone's chest all day just snuggling (Danna...not Jac).

Believe it or not....the hat was not mom's doing. Leave it to her sisters (their aunts) to pick up the slack.

One of my favorite stories from their birthday party. When we pulled this unicorn (we call it a horsey around our house) out of the bag and showed it to Danna, her jaw literally DROPPED and she just looked at it in utter amazement. Priceless. She still loves that thing and especially like to cuddle with it.

Getting ready to walk over to Bucko's house with Grammy Vicki

Yet another tiara this girl has. Ridiculous, I tell you.

Playing dress-up with mom's boots

We Love You Baby Girl!
Mommy, Daddy, Pius, Forrest, and Laine