Being tricky - shay :)
too cute - shay
ciaran hangin out
having a more serious moment
sweet, sweet ciaran
Ciaran remains sweet, sweet Ciaran. He has a beautiful disposition…really angelic. He is calm, happy and full of smiles these days. The only time that he ever gets upset is when you pull his bottle out for a burp during a feed – in times like this – he gets sooo distressed – he is too funny! Shay continues to be our feisty one. He makes his needs known to all – he knows what he wants and when he wants it – does he remind you of someone :) He too is good natured - smiling tonnes, getting very strong and is making a lot of gains! He is very expressive and cracks us up on a daily basis. The two of them bring so much love and joy to our lives. I must admit that until now, I never fully understood the overwhelming feelings of love that a parent could feel for her child – it is such a beautiful and special thing!
From a developmental perspective, the boys are really coming along. We have had a number of follow up appointments already and will continue to do so well into the future to ensure that the boys are developing according to plan – and should there be hiccups – we will be able to get timely intervention which is so essential for their future development. I am not sure if you all know – but my MA thesis focused on the importance of early intervention - the knowledge and experience I gained has been really useful now that I can connect it on a personal level. Ironic how many synchronicities there are in life…
Ciaran has already had some access to an early intervention program – we have already been hooked up with an Occupational therapist named Allison. She comes into our home once per week and works with Ciaran on muscle development and tone. She has only been to the house twice so far and the progress he has made during this time is unbelievable…again, we have been reminded of how truly blessed we are and what fabulous resources are available in our community!
The appointments will continue and I am sure that we will continuously be reminded that our journey has only just begun. We recognize that there will be many more bumps in the road to come– but none that we can not handle! For now, we know that we are truly blessed to have these two miracles in our lives….Ciaran and Shay remind us on a daily basis what a gift life is– I have been personally reminded that things truly do not matter – what really matters is the quality of our personal relationships in this world – and this year has really emphasized for Cris and I how many relationships and friendships we should be thankful for.
Every single one of us has so much to be thankful for. 2007 was a year we will never forget – despite the obstacles that we have had to face – we have come through it...with our two little boys fighting! We look forward to what 2008 will bring…we are sure that it will bring continued peace, love and happiness.
To you – our amazing family and friends – we wish you all the happiness in the world. We hope that your year brings you joy, laughter, love and friendship. Thank you for being remarkable people in our world this year – we love you and appreciate you!
liza, cris, ciaran and shay
We hope there are still people out there. We have not been able to blog much over the last 3 weeks but we'd like to give everyone an update before Christmas + we want to post some pictures for everyone. Pictures will be later in the week...I just don't have them with me right now.
We have had some ups and downs over the last few weeks to say the least.
- We got to see all of our family through visits to the house (my parents and brothers + kids) and Liza's family at Kellan's baptism. We have also had some of our friends over as well to help out and spend some time with us.
- Liza's parents have been great with the amount of help they have provided since I starting working on a full time basis again.
- Ciaran is near 15lbs now and Shay 13lbs
- Both kids are staring us down like a couple of stalkers and being a bit interactive, including some spontaneous smiling!
- Both kids are doing things like holding up their heads (Shay is like a groundhog) and we hear the occasional sound other than crying - we'll call it cooing cause we can
Only one to speak of really - a few weeks ago Shay caught the flu. We are not really sure how or from who but let me tell you that this was quite scary thing. Shay ended up being hospitalized for 6 days at Oakville-Trafalgar hospital near our house. The main problem that the flu caused was that Shay was not able to keep his blood oxygen level anywhere near an acceptable level and he required oxygen to keep it up. Personally this was a horrible experience as I had put away the memories of the boys hooked up to the monitors. It was very hard. To top it off, I caught a cold for a few days and I needed to wear a mask and gloves for days to try and make sure I don't make things worse. A real low but we got through it..
Anyway, we hope all of you are well. We are certainly looking forward to 2008. 2007 brought us a lot of good (Ciaran and Shay) but it also brought lots of stress, worry and the like. It will be a year that will never be forgotten. We have managed to get through a lot and we've come out of it stronger than ever.
We are extremely thankful for the support and thoughts throughout our journey. We could never thank you enough for everything that people have done for us over the last 6 months. Yes, the boys will be 6months old on Jan 5th, 2008. Crazy!
We lots of love and thanks,
Cris, Liza, Ciaran and Shay
Our homecoming was indeed something special with many mixed emotions but it was all made clear when we got home to see that 2 storks were waiting to greet us and the boys. The storks were courtesy the staff at Guardian Angels Catholic School in Milton. This is where Liza has been teaching for the last several years. It was a great way to come home. Pics below.
We have been to a few appointments already including Shay's first visit to the pediatrician. During our last visit to the baby doc, both boys got their 4month shots + a shot of RSV - a drug to help them fight off colds if they get one. We also had the boys weighed. Ciaran weighed in at 11lbs 10ozs! Shay weighed in at 10lbs 10ozs! They are big, big boys! All in all, things are good and we are happy to be home!
Now on to the pics... these are the last few pics from when we left the hospital to when we got home along with some pics from the last week.
Bev with the boys (she came in on her off day to see us off, she is awesome!)
The boys in their car seats ready to go!
The boys under the storks!
Close up of Ciaran's stork
Close up of Shay's stork!
Shay with mom and her BELIEVE necklace!
The boys taking a nap with mum!
The boys napping again!
This is Riley with Shay and the Tiger she bought for them. It represents STRENGTH!
This is Shippy with Ciaran and the Lion they bought (it represents COURAGE)
Although we are so excited to start this next chapter of our lives today, we too were very sad to say good bye to some of the phenomenal people that we met during our four month stay at Women's College Hospital. Over the course of these four months, many of the staff at Women's have become much like family to us. They have cared for us, listened to us, supported us, laughed with us and cried with us. They provided support every minute of every day. I will forever be indebted to the staff at Women's College. Cris and I feel blessed to have met the people that we have and we look forward to maintaining some of these friendships in life.
Mixed with these feelings of sadness, were overwhelming feelings of pride and excitement. Cris and I felt a great deal of pride today as we packed our boys into their car seats and prepared to leave the hospital. Ciaran and Shay have come a long, long way. Looking back over our journey, we can't feel anything but pride when we think about their determination and will to live. I dreamed of the day that I would be able to leave with them in their car seats...and today this dream became a reality. We recognize that the journey is far from over as we have numerous follow up appointments still to attend - appointments that will likely continue to instill fear in Cris and I - however, what we have realized is that at this point we can only hope and pray that Ciaran and Shay will have the best possible outcomes.
The boys are already keeping us very busy at home. Cris has taken three weeks off work to assist with the transition which I am so thankful for. I apologize for not getting to this post sooner - as we have not had much of a second since we got home. We try to catch naps when the boys nap and find there is not much down time in between. We plan on keeping up the blog up and going with at least weekly updates.
To all of you - a sincere thank you for joining us on this long and difficult journey. We would not have been able to get through the past four months without your support. From your thoughts, prayers, encouraging words, phone calls, emails and visits - we are so very thankful. This post finds me for the first time really lost for words as the feelings that I have surrounding the support from our family and friends cannot fully be described. As long as you know, that we love you and appreciate you more than you will ever know.
We will post some of pictures from our last day at the hospital and our homecoming over the next day or so.
With lots of love,
Cris, Liza, Ciaran and Shay
Colleen with Shay (aka Skeletor)
Shay ready to trick or treat
Ciaran resting after doing the halloween thing
Shay rocking it! (see his hand?)
Bev and Michelle with the boys
The boys in that stroller again, who keeps putting them there i wonder :)
That's it folks, we hope you all enjoyed halloween
Cris, Liza, Ciaran and Shay
Since the last posting, we have been home on two occasions with Ciaran. To be honest, I was trying my best to hold out so that I did not have to go home until both Ciaran and Shay could come home together. What I have learnt from this whole experience is that everything does not always going according to plan. An important lesson, and a very difficult lesson to swallow!
So we went home on Tuesday night because Ciaran had his first pediatrician appointment on Wednesday. We had a good night at home and a very hectic Wednesday morning trying to get ourselves and Ciaran up and ready for his 9:30 appointment. The appointment went extremely well. We were so impressed with the pediatrian that we were referred to - Dr. McGregor. He spent an hour with us going through Ciaran's story - he listened - and I mean really listened, asked questions, and just showed a genuine interest in Ciaran's care. This was such a relief for Cris and I!
We returned to the hospital Wednesday and stayed here til Saturday night. On Saturday, we headed home again to celebrate Jodi's 30th birthday with her. It took us way more time than anticipated to get ourselves organized and hence we missed the surprise by a few hours. It was worth the stress however- as the party was fantastic - had a chance to meet all of Jodi's family and friends - of course, really good people!
In the meantime, Shay has been working really hard to get himself home. He has been spell free now for 7 days...go Shay! It is like everything just clicked for him all of a sudden. I wonder if he is missing his brother...intuitively, I believe that this may be the case. At the moment, Shay is just transitioning to sleeping on his back which is the last transition he needs to overcome to get his ticket home. If we can continue to be spell free by Friday, our little family will be packing the car and heading home which Cris can't wait for.
That is all for now...my little prince has awoken...and I must say he is quite demanding. Both boys wake up and immediately feel that it is their time to be fed...the two of them have quite some good lungs on them!
We look forward to sharing more good news in the next little while.
love to all,
cris, liza, ciaran and shay
Liza with both boys - that's a whole lot of baby!
The boys knocking heads already!
The boys again
The boys together in a crib
Checking each other out
The boys just chilling out
Shay's butt again but covered with a cow, how cute!
Ciaran with dad :)
Life continues to be busy especially since we are now fully responsible for Ciaran's care which we are loving! Ciaran has done well with his latest transition. He has been awake a little more than usual and has been demanding a tonne of 'holding time'...I would say that he is trying to get caught up for lost time.
Just a brief update as to what has happened in the last couple of days. As you know, Ciaran was discharged Thursday night. On Friday, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and got out for two walks - first with Geraldine and my nephew Eamonn and then later we made arrangements to meet Fab, Camilla, Conor, Orla and Ciara for dinner at Pogue Mahones (one of our two locals). My first outing with Geraldine was a bit stressful - I had Ciaran in the Baby Bjorn and was worried about his breathing - likely a natural reaction from all that we have seen and been through in the NICU. I was a bit more relaxed later on in the evening as this time I decided to put Ciaran in the hospital stoller. I felt much more confident being able to see him 24-7 - AND I thought I would never be an over protective mother :) Sunday was another beautiful day - so we decided to go out and walk around Queen's Park. It felt so amazing to be outside - we have been spoiled with the weather.
Shay refused to be outdone by his brother, so he too found himself in a stroller and outside for a walk on Friday. We have a second primary nurse now for the days that Bev is off named Marsha. She is very cute and caring. She decided on Friday to set Shay up on a portable monitor so that he could have his first breath of fresh air the sma e day as Ciaran. He loved being outside - he was very alert and calm. The following day, Marsha had the Doctor write up an order (presciption) that would allow Shay to come on more walks around the hospital on a monitor. So on Saturday, he spent an hour or so in our room with us on the monitor again. It was nice!
Shay continues to get stronger everyday likely a result of all the exercises he is exposed to through every day. His spells are much more infrequent - maybe one every 3-4 days at this point in time all of which are due to his reflux (stomach contents being released from the stomach but not quite getting spat up. He needs to go a total of 7-10 days spell free before he is able to come home. Even though I am dying to get him home, I realize the importance of time with regards to continuing to mature - and hence I will do my best to remain patient and positive.
The boys hung out on Sunday in the Shay's crib. We got a bunch of pictures that Cris will be posting tonight. We also put them in the stroller together for one shot - it was too funny. Shay, being Shay was not interested in the least to become reaquainted with his brother. Instead, he attempted a number of times to latch on to Ciaran's forehead in an attempt to get milk...it was too funny!
Anyhow, that is all for now. I will be better at posting in the next few weeks (likely briefer posts) as I need to keep my Mom and Dad updated on the boys progress while they are on a much deserved vacation to Australia and New Zealand - they need to get all rested up before they come home and become permanent fixtures at our house in Oakville :)
Take care everyone! Hopefully Cris will have some more recent pictures up of the boys in the next few hours.
lots of love,
cris, liza, ciaran and shay
So...here I sit with my little miracle, my determined fighter, my sweet, sweet Ciaran. I again am provided with an opportunity to realize that I am a mom, that my boys are really coming home with me - this is something that I never fully accepted in the past three months - likely as a coping mechanism to deal with my fear.
I feel an overwhelming amount of thanks tonight - I am so thankful for life. Never again will I forget how very precious life is and how important it is to honour this fact day in and day out. I am so thankful that I finally have the opportunity to be a mother - this is something that I have longed for, for as long as I remember. I am thankful for Cris - he truly as been my rock throughout this journey - having children has really made me aware of my vunerabilites and being vunerable is a scary thing! Thank you to all of you who have joined us on this journey - we are sooo close to the end and our appreciation and gratitude for our amazing family and friends will never be forgotten.
My boy awaits me...I must go and take advantage of my cuddles and baby kisses...
night everyone and thanks again!
While I was at home, I came across a number of pictures of Ciaran and Shay in their early days of life. I found myself totally taken aback by how small and fragile they both were in the beginning. To be honest, I found looking at the pictures a little bit difficult. I was reminded of not only how fragile my babies were, but too, how fragile I was. I was also reminded that the boys have come such a long way since then, and I have put many of the early days behind me. It is important to remember that I am not bringing home 2 pound preemies - instead, I am bringing home 10 pounders which is how I want to remember them.
So, we have big news for this week...long awaited news. Ciaran is being discharged from the hospital on Friday of this week. He is ready to go now, however, the staff have agreed to keep him until Friday as he has an eye exam Thursday afternoon. Ciaran will be rooming in with Cris and I in the parent room until Shay is ready to go. Looking back on his journey, it blows my mind of where he's been and where he is at now. All along, he has shown unbelievable strength and determination. He truly is a miracle who has exemplified the power of the human will and spirit - a lesson for all of us.
Shay continues to struggle with his reflux. His hernia and his struggles with bowel movements compound the situation. They tell us that only time can rectify the situation. The sphincter muscle needs to further develop (it lacks some muscle tone since there was a feeding tube obstructing it for the first 3 months of his life) and he needs to develop his abs which will help him become more regular. Neither of us want Shay to come home until he is good and ready, although I must admit, my ideal situation would be that they both come home at the same time. No one knows how long it will take before Shay is ready to go - we will just have to continue to wait patiently, be positive and be thankful for our two little miracles. I keep reminding myself that another few weeks or month is nothing compared to the rest of our lives spent with Ciaran and Shay.
That is all for now. I will do my best to continue to keep you posted. As always - thanks for your positive thoughts and prayers - Ciaran's discharge from the hospital is also a testament to the power of these thoughts and prayers.
lots of love,
cris, liza, ciaran and shay
The staff at Women's Colleage have been unbelievable...and I mean all staff...from the Chief of the Neonatal Unit, to all of the doctors, fellows, nurse practioners, charge nurses, nurses, 'dairy queens', to the cleaners...everyone has taken a sincere interest in our boys. In a weird sort of way, the hospital has begun to feel a little like home...as we have developed life long friendships and forever supporters. Many of the staff have been surprised at how well Ciaran and Shay are doing despite their rough start - I truly believe that a significant amount of the progress that they have made is a result of the caring, loving and dedicated staff.
Thanksgiving had always been was my target date for getting the boys home - I had the dates mixed up in my head however, as I had assumed that Thankgiving weekend was next weekend. Hence, I was a bit disappointed that we were not able to have Shay and Ciaran with us to celebrate this special holiday. I know in my heart, that we do not have much longer to go, however, the days that we still need to put in, are integral to their development.
Shay has had a few spells in the last few days which is going to hold us back a little bit as both boys need to be spell free for 7 days before they are able to come home. To be honest, I would prefer if we waited even longer to ensure that we feel confident bringing our boys home. The spells continue to be a result of reflux - which he is supposed to grow out of. Today they changed his medication dosage as he was only receiving a preemie dose and was in need of a pediatric dose as a result of his age and his size. We pray that this is what it will take to get Shay back on track.
Both boys have their feeding tubes out which you can see in the pictures. This was worthy of a big celebration. It is so nice to have their faces free of tubes and tape!! This means that both boys are feeding independently by demand. They are doing absolutely wonderful with this next step. The are becoming better and better with their pacing and hence having fewer and fewer spells as a result of gulping too much milk and forgetting to breathe. We have moved to a schedule that involves half breast feeding and half feeding breast milk via bottles. Last week, I found that I was literally feeding them around the clock and neither of the boys were being efficient...it looks like we have made a good choice as today the boys were much more efficient and I was able to get a welcome rest...
Anyhow, that is where we are at as of now. The boys are huge!!! They are starting to look as if they are too big for their cots. Shay weighed in today at 8 pounds 5 ounces...and Ciaran will be weighed later tonight...but if I was a betting woman...I would predict that he will be 9 pounds 4 oz. I am still staying at the hospital...it has been three and a half weeks now...I don't think that I have much longer to go...perhaps two more weeks...we shall wait and see!
A sincere thank you again for your positive thoughts and prayers. They have truly meant the world to us.
Love you all,
Cris, Liza, Ciaran and Shay