Pictures - From the past week!

Ciaran hangin with mum!

Ciaran relaxin!

Shay hangin with dad!

Shay man!

Here's lookin at you kid! (Shay)

Shay's bum 11 weeks later - can you believe it?

Shay having a serious moment!

Shay (after serious moment)

Ciaran and mum!

Sweet sweet Ciaran!

Day 87 - Saturday September 29

Sorry for the delay again. Things continue to be extremely busy as the boys become more and more reliant on Cris and I, rather than the nurses everyday. We are enjoying this stage very much although I must say it is exhausting. Probably, only a taste of what we are in for when we get home!

I started staying overnight in the Parent Room in the hospital as of Monday night. In doing so, I am awoken every few hours for the hourly feeding of Ciaran and Shay. They have made significant improvements in their feeding in the past few days. They are going to the breast for back to back feeds and they are getting more and more volume in every feed. They are starting to cry for feeds that involve nursing rather than tube feeds. This is a sign of maturity. I am dying to get their feeding tubes out of their noses - but this will be the last step of the feeding process. We have introduced bottles which Cris is enjoying as it is an opportunity to spend some quality time with his boys - we will see if he continues to think this when he is getting up in the middle of the night to feed Ciaran and Shay!

Our next step is going to feed by demand. This transition will probably take place later in the week. Again, in this case, we are moving towards the reality that will exist when we get home. We are getting close! The boys are 39 weeks tomorrow! I can not believe how fast time has gone by. I am predicting that we have around three weeks to go at the hospital although only the boys can determine this. Shay is still struggling a bit with reflux which results in breathing spells (although the spells are becoming fewer and farther between)- I must admit that it is scary for us to be seeing this behaviour so close to the time that they are going home - however, I have been assured that this too is something that they will grow out of and for everything else that they have told me that this is the case for - the outcome is as predicted. I have learned that I have to be patient and respect the process. At times, this is extremely difficult as all I want is to bring my babies home and start our new life together - in saying that though, I have realized that I have to wait until they are good and ready and at this point in time, we are not quite there yet - even though we are getting close!

We had a small family shower today at my mom's house. We had our family and my mom's close friends at the house. It was an amazing day! The past three months have really reinforced for me how truly valuable family is. Over the course of the last three months, we have received unending support from our family - from this, Cris and I have gathered so much strength, faith and love. We are so appreciative of this support - so much so, that is often very difficult to express our thoughts and feelings. Do know - that your time, visits, phone calls have meant the world to Cris and I.

That is all to report today. Tomorrow is weigh in day, bath day and Cris has promised a photo shoot. Promise that pictures will be posted tomorrow.

Good night all! Sweet dreams!
cris, liza, ciaran and shay

ps joanne f. - i am thrilled to hear that you received good news this week. you were in my thoughts and prayers all week!

Day 84 - September 26, 2005

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the delay in posting. It has been extremely busy as of late, and hence Cris and I are quite exhausted.
Not much to report in the past week. Ciaran tipped the scales over 8 pounds and Shay is just behind him at 7lbs 7 ozs. Today is bath day which means weigh day, so I will report back later today with all of the updates and hopefully some pictures.

So, since Monday, I have been staying at the hosptial overnight. I guess that they are starting to prepare me for the reality of bringing two babies coming home. I have just realized that their awake time is 7:00 pm until 12:00 pm (right after we leave each night). They are like different kids. The other night we walked in after dinner and both babies were awake being bottle fed and raring to go. It is as if they are awaiting more stimulation which is to come once we get them home.

Both Ciaran and Shay have been making progress with their feeding. They are developing stamina and are able to feed orally more often and are able to take larger amounts. We still haves a ways to go - but everyone here is very happy with their progress. I was hoping to have the boys home for Thanksgiving, however, I did not realize how early Thanksgiving is this year - I would say we have approximately three weeks to go before the boys come home - but that is just a motherly guess and hope!

My close girlfriends held a shower for me on Sunday afternoon. It was absolutely beautiful and it meant so much to have all of my friends together to celebrate Ciaran and Shay. My girlfriends have been so strong for me through this whole ordeal. I have been reminded again how lucky I am to have such amazingly supportive, kind, thoughtful people in my life. I know I have said it before, but I will say it again - I am so very blessed.

Day 77 - September 19, 2007

Today was bath day which also means weigh in day! Both boys have again made significant gains in weight since Sunday. Shay weighed in today at 7lbs 1 1/2 ozs and Ciaran weighed in at 7 lbs 9 1/2 ozs. It looks like I will be bringing home two chunky monkies!

Good news today! Ciaran and Shay had their eye tests done today and both boys have shown significant improvements in their eye development. Shay's eyes showed the most improvement - and have fully vascularized which is the goal. Ciaran is close behind Shay - he has shown improvements and we are moving in the right direction. Both boys have moved from being tested once a week to being tested two weeks from now as a result of their improvements.

Funny how our attention has now flipped back to Shay since a little bit of pressure was relieved when we heard that Ciaran was likely not requiring a shunt. Shay has developed reflux which is quite common in newborns. However, in preemies, the baby often has a hard time recovering from reflux which results in breathing spells. It is a step backwards - as neither of the boys have had spells for a few weeks now. They put Shay on medication today which hopefully will kick in, in the next day or two so that we can continue with taking the steps forward that we need to take in order to get us home!

That is all the news today. Both boys look great and we continue to be pleased with their progress! Thanks for checking in!

cris, liza, ciaran and shay

Day 76 - September 18, 2007

Most of you who know me would know that I am a strong advocate of the philosophy that things happen for a reason. In any situation, positive or negative - I have always searched for the lessons learnt as a result of the experience. To be completely honest, in thinking about the premature birth of Ciaran and Shay, I have had a harder time trying to rationalize this philosophy. That was until tonight when I came across some concrete reminders of the lessons that I have learnt. Prior to going to bed, I came across a bunch of word plaques that Cris and I had bought prior to our wedding. Each month, we had decided to buy one word that we felt that we needed in our relationship for the here, the now and the future. Ironically, our word choices are so relevant to our current situation - so much so, that I thought I would share the words and my reflections on them over the next few days.

The words in no particular order are live, spirit, hope, passion, faith, courage, truth, imagine
and strength.

On live - first thing that comes to mind is life. Through this experience, I have realized that life is truly a gift. A gift that I have come to appreciate on a daily basis. Even though Shay and Ciaran came into this world so early, they came into this world as perfect tiny little human beings. The human body is truly a complex system - one that I have a great deal of respect for as I have learnt more and more about it.

On live - this situation has taught me the importance of LIVING. I have always tried to cram so much into my days, weeks, months and years. This situation has taught me that living day to day is equally, if not more important. Each day on our journey - we have had something to will be important to me not to lose this persepective when we get home and start living with more normalacy. In saying this, I plan on taking life more from a day at a time perspective from this point in time with my overall goal being to enjoy every single minute that I have with my children, my family and my friends. What I perceive as important has changed significantly in the past three months. I am so thankful for this new perspective.

Day 74 - September 16, 2007 - 6lbs 11ozs

Yup, the caption is Shay's weight today. Truly amazing. He started out a bit smaller than Ciaran at birth (2.5ozs) and as they started to grow he actually fell behind by a full pound. But he didn't want to be left behind by his brother and he has just about caught right up! He has done wonderful.

There is not a whole lot to talk about today (that's good!). Shay got his bath and a few tries at breastfeeding. He did better today than yesterday. Ciaran had his bath yesterday and he continues to do pretty well at breastfeeding. They are still not taking a full feed from Liza directly and we hope that they can do it over the next week or so. Once they can do that we'll definitely be closer to home.

As for yesterday's little contest, pic A was Ciaran (aka Bean Sprout) and pic B was Shay (aka Sweet Pea).

Here are two more pics from that same day.

Ciaran in his cot

Shay in his cot

Day 73 - September 15, 2007 - Can you say 7lbs?

Yes, the caption for this post is not just an attention grabber... Ciaran hit 7lbs today. This is just unbelievable and well beyond our expectations for this point of time. We were hoping he would hit about 5.5lbs by the time Sept 17th came around (his original Sick Kids appointment) but he wasn't interested in being so small... he wanted to be big! So we look at him now, out of preemie clothes into 'newborn' and wearing size 1 diapers. He is so big and we are so proud of both him and his brother Shay. We will weigh Shay tomorrow and I'll report back as to how close he is to the 7lb mark.

Both boys continue to do well with their attempts at breastfeeding. Today Ciaran happened to do a bit better than Shay but they are still preemies and they will flip flop back and forth depending on who is tired that day. Shay did much better yesterday. The boys also had a few other small changes, like having their cots laid down flat instead of angled down (was intended to help with feeding).

So a couple of pictures from today.. I decided to go for some extreme closeups, enjoy!

Pic 1 - Who am I?

Pic 2 - I'm not that baby in the pic above

Day 72 - September 14, 2007

Last night Liza stayed at the hospital in order to try and give the boys at least one feed overnight. This is the next major step before the boys can come home. They will have to get 100% of their feeds orally. Right now they are still not able to get one complete feed orally but I can report they are getting closer to that important milestone. As the boys get bigger and stronger Liza will begin staying at the hospital overnight. When that time comes she will stay until the boys come home.

Other things that happened today are that they stopped some medications that the boys were taking to help them with their breathing. It would appear that they have outgrown the need for these medications. This is really important as they need to be clear of these medications for a minimum of 7 full days before they can come home. These are more signs that they are indeed going to come home one day soon.

Both boys continue to do well and we are watching them get bigger every day!

Cris, Liza, Ciaran and Shay

Day 71 - September 13, 2007 - MORE PICTURES

Another picture day for the boys, enjoy but please don't forget to read yesterday's post as well - it has big news!

Here are the pics!

Shay chilling out


Ciaran just relaxing

Shay awake but barely!

Mom holding the twins

Both kids on the their butterfly pillows - can you guess who is who?

Ciaran on the left and Shay on the right - you knew that, right?

Day 70 - September 12, 2007 - HUGE NEWS!

Today was a good day. Today was a really good day. Tonight I sit and write with so much gratitude and faith in my heart. I am so very thankful for my two little miracles Ciaran and Shay -they are absolutely beautiful and I feel so blessed everyday that I have them in my life, each and every day they appear to be closer and closer to coming home...I so can't wait for this day. I am so thankful for Cris, my family, my friends, our community, the staff at Women's College. Words could never adequately express my appreciation.

The best news for today was significant. The "specialist" today came in today from Sick Kids Hospital to see Ciaran. The specialist I have referred to throughout our entries is the Neurosurgeon. To be honest with you, I have always been scared to death to put this word in writing because of the intense fear that has surrounded our dealings with these specialists....psychologically, I believe that I did not want to jinx myself. Fear is such a unpredictable emotion...never in my life have I experienced the level of fear that I have experienced in the past three months - I hope and pray that I will never have to experience this level of fear again.

So - the specialist came in to see Ciaran today. We originally had an appointment at Sick Kids for September 17, however, there was a scheduling error and we were pushed back another 10 days. Hearing this was difficult, as we have been facing the fear of a shunt and the potential repercussions for over two months now...the anticipation has been killing me...the nurse asked if someone could come by to take a look at Ciaran. So today the specialist came by and had a look. This was a tense hour as we waited for him to assess Ciaran. review all of his ultrasounds and pour through the daily assessments. Upon complete review, the surgeon came in while I was holding Ciaran to share with us his assessment of our current situation. The doctor told us the news we always hoped and prayed for but news that we definitely were not always expecting.

Ciaran will not need surgery right now and he will probably not need surgery ever for this particular issue!!

Words cannot describe the emotions we felt when he told us that news. As the tears flowed down my face, the doctor asked why I was crying as he could not understand how this good news would result in my tears. I simply explained that the past 9 weeks of stress and worry had ben intense, however, at this point, these were tears of joy and happiness.

At the beginning of August we met with Father Dave and Ciaran's surgery was immenient. I remember him precisely saying that he would pray for a miracle as we had been told that Ciaran would require surgery but at this point in time, he was much too small and would have difficulties tolerating surgery. It was two days after meeting with the Neurosurgeon and one day after the boys were baptized that Ciaran's dire situation began to progressively get better every day. He defied the odds and we were reminded of how important it is to have faith and to believe.

So we sign off saying thank you for your prayers and positive thoughts. They have truly paid off. We are far from out of the woods yet - but we have made significant gains. We have so much to be thankful for ....and today our prayers are those of thanks.

With lots of love,
Cris, Liza, Ciaran and Shay

Day 69 - September 11, 2007

Today was another good day for the boys overall. They are still struggling with going to the bathroom but the docs and nurses are taking measures to try and help. They will be slightly reducing their food intake and the amount of fortifiers they are getting. We'll see if it helps.

The most important bit of news today is that the boys did really well with their breastfeeding. They are still only getting tiny amounts and they are still learning all about how to suck, breath and swallow at the same time. Today was the first time that Liza weighed them before and after they tried to breastfeed. Shay, who is definitely eager, got a total of 4mls. Not a lot but still good. Ciaran, who is a lounger that likes to take his time to latch on, got a total of 10mls! They are both doing great and that was validated by the lactation consultant Dorothy. She came by and watch Liza with Ciaran and she said he was acting like a baby would at 38 weeks but the boys are only 36 weeks. Truly wonderful!

That is it for today, tomorrow is ultrasound and eye test day. A big day for them.

Have a great day!
Cris, Liza, Ciaran and Shay

Day 68 - September 10, 2007

Today we had a good day, pretty quiet with nothing much going on. We had some overnight issues with Shay having a spell but its seems that it is related to his feeding, lack of stooling and general straining. Both of them currently have this problem but we've been assured that it will lessen as they grow and develop. Other than that, no real changes and we are just waiting for them to continue to grow and develop. They will continue to try to learn to breastfeed and soon they will start to actually get milk that way. That will be great as it is one of the main things they need to do before they can go home.

So here is one pic for today. We only have the one and it was because Shay was wrapped like a mummy.

Ciaran a little bit sleepy and relaxing with daddy

Thanks for reading and having an interest in our boys - they have benefited greatly from all of the good thoughts and prayers.

Cris, Liza, Ciaran and Shay

Day 67 - September 9, 2007

Today was a great day. Just hung out with Ciaran and Shay. Both boys had baths which they behaved for. Shay was a bit apprehensive of the bath at first....but warmed up as we got going! Not much else to report. The pictures below share a glimpse of our day.

Ciaran having a serious moment

Ciaran relaxing after his bath

Shay not happy he has to have a bath is not as bad as he thought!

Squeeky clean and ready to relax again!

Cuddly Ciaran hanging with his Mom

Did I tell you that Ciaran likes to cuddle?

Day 64 - September 6, 2007

It was an extremely busy day today and it will continue to be so until our departure. Believe it or not - the idea of departing is starting to enter conversation although I do not think it will happen for a number of weeks - likely around the time of my actual due date - October 6. Either way, it is exciting that it is being discussed - quite surreal, but definitely exciting!

So for the upcoming weeks, I have been put on a very tight schedule. Shay and Ciaran are not being fed every three hours on a staggered schedule. This means that I attempt feeding Shay at 11:00, 2:00, 5:00, etc., and Ciaran 12:00, 3:00, 6:00....The hour that I have in between is spent pumping and grabbing a quick bite to eat.

Today we also managed to get the two boys bathed during their busy schedule. Cris got off a little bit early today and came in to bathe both boys. He did a wonderful job - getting more and more comfortable with handling every day. Ciaran and Shay both love having baths - it will surely be a tool to keep them settled once we get them home. I was able to snap a few pics of Shay being bathed, unfortunately, when it was Ciaran's turn - I was feeding Shay and hence was unable to get pictures. I will post them later...

Left the hospital completely exhausted today - got home around 8:00 and went straight to bed. I think that they are beginning to train us for the reality that is coming our way in the upcoming months...I can handle feeling exhausted if it means that they are coming home...I sooo can't wait to get them home!

That is all for today. Hope everyone is well!
cris, liza, ciaran and shay

Day 63 - September 5

Another hectic day for the boys. Both boys were still quite tired from their immunization shots from yesterday. Ciaran had his weekly ultrasound today and it appears again this week that things remain stable....which is good news! We will be meeting with the Specialist in a few weeks to determine what exactly the next steps will be for him. In the meantime, we will hope and pray that Ciaran continues to develop and thrive in such a positive manner. He is truly doing amazing - we are so proud of him!

Both boys had their weekly eye exams done today as well. This is a tiring and uncomfortable test done weekly. It totally tires them out and as a result, we let both boys 'just be' this afternoon. Cris and I ended up going to my parents house for a late dinner. It was great to see them as they had been away for the past week in Ireland.

My parents brought home a number of gorgeous outfits from my relatives in Ireland. They are all beautiful and we are so thankful not only for the outfits, but also for the outpouring of support that we have received from our relatives overseas. Family is such a phenomenal support network and Cris and I feel truly blessed for our families. Distance in no way interferes - the love, prayers, faith and support are felt across the miles - and for this we are eternally grateful!

All the best to everyone!
cris, liza, ciaran and shay

Day 62 - September 4, 2007

The days are getting busier and busier. I had both boys out today for a cuddle and an attempt at breast feeding. The nurses tell me that Shay is advanced for his age for feeding - he is very eager - he learned to latch on immediately and is learning to coordinate his suck, swallow and breathe reflexes appropriately. He lasted for twenty minutes today which is quite a bit of time for such a little one...he is pretty intense...

Speaking of intense, I think that I had mentioned that Shay was a bit fussy in the past week and has wanted to be picked up often - well today we found out the likely reason for this - he has a hernia which is quite common in premature baby boys. He will need to go in for day surgery for a small procedure in a couple of months to fix the situation - in the meantime, we will work hard at keeping him comfortable and calm...he is a tough cookie...and will surely be okay!

Ciaran too is making progress with his feeding. He latched on quite easily today and lasted around ten minutes. He is not as eager as his brother - he tends to take things in around him - he is much calmer and laid back in his approach. The nurses tell me that he is doing what is developmentally appropriate for his age which makes us happy!

Both boys had their immunizations this afternoon. Following their immunizations, they were quite tired and sleepy. We let them be following the immunizations...they needed to sleep and relax.

Met with Maureen today - she is responsible for follow up. She is such an amazing person to talk to. She always provides perspective when my perspective is waning. On days when I am overtired, I find I am quicker to lose perspective - on days like these, my mind wanders and I think of every single "what if "for my boys...seeing that I naturally only want the very best for both of them. It is days like these that the fear sometimes sets in... I am sure the fear that every parent feels as they think of their hopes and dreams for their children. When I find myself in a worried mode, it is she who reminds me that we are working with the best hospital in the world dealing with preemies. We will be blessed to have follow up and services from Women's College for the first six years of the boys life - the goal being to give them the best start possible....we really cannot ask for more! This is another area where we are so blessed as Canadians for our Health Care system and hence so far ahead of the States who have no set in stone follow up procedures for preemies. How lucky we truly lucky!

Well, tomorrow is another busy day, so I will be off. To all of my teaching friends - thinking of you today at school. Hope you all had a good one. Please give my 'specials' my love!


Day 61 - September 3, 2007

Look at those chubby cheeks!

Shay relaxing on his butterfly pillow..ironic it's a butterfly!

Lovely Ciaran always making eye contact - we're connected!

Ciaran and Shay meet again

Today was quite a relaxing day seeing it was the Monday of the long weekend - there were no tests or procedures done today - therefore not much to report which is a good thing.

Bev was back after being off for 5 days for a wedding. It was so nice to see her - she felt that the boys had grown quite a bit in five days. It is hard to see how they are changing sometimes because we see them every day. She was happy with the progress that the boys had made since she left Tuesday of last week (both boys breathing on their own, spells are fewer and farther between).

We had both boys out together today for a cuddle. It was the first time we had them back together since their initial meeting a few weeks ago. The scenario was very much the same - Ciaran was very interested in looking at his younger brother. Shay was in a deep sleep and took little notice. Ciaran was so sweet looking at Shay - I truly believe he realizes that he is his other half. He reached out to touch him again - I sooo can not wait to have them home so that we can watch them interact on a daily basis!

That is all to report for today. The next few days are quite busy for the boys with immunizations, ultrasounds and eye tests. We pray that we will continue to receive good news regarding both of the boys' progress.

Day 60 - September 2, 2007 - SPLISH SPLASH

As we move towards the day when the boys will come home we find ourselves experiencing more and more firsts. Today was no different. Ciaran and Shay today got baths. Liza took Ciaran out for a bath first and then later in the day I took out Shay.

Ciaran first in the tub

and now relaxing on his cot all clean and tidy!

Shay in the tub

Shay relaxing after the bath

Not much else to report...things are progressing and we keep our fingers crossed that we don't have many more bridges to cross before the boys come home.

Thank you for reading, praying and having an interest in our two miracle babies.

With lots of love,
Cris, Liza, Ciaran and Shay

Day 59 - September 1, 2007

Today was a good day. We had another milestone to celebrate today! Ciaran is now completely off low flow and is breathing completely on his own. He has totally caught up with Shay and is actually having fewer spells than Shay. He is doing truly amazing!

Shay continues to do well. He has been breathing on his own for the past four days - he is looking stronger and stronger everyday and looking much more like a full term baby everyday. He is packing on the pounds - weighing in at 2444 grams - which is 5lbs 6 oz. and currently working on a triple chin. Ciaran is weighing in at a hefty 2518 grams - which is 5lbs. 8 1/2 oz. They are both getting huge!

I have tried breast feeding both boys in the past few days. It is so funny to see how their personalities are beginning to shine through! Shay latched on within a second - he was like a vacuum - he is too funny. After about one minute, I noticed his skin turning a greyish blue - he was so caught up with sucking that he totally was forgetting to breathe. Shay has become quite intense over the past week or two. As I told you before, he is a total ladies man. He cries at the top of his lungs to get someones attention - and as soon as he gets it - he is as happy as a pig in shit :) Everytime I call in to see how he is doing, it appears that he has wrapped another nurse around his finger...

Ciaran on the other hand, has become very sweet. Whenever one of us hold him, he is always looking into our eyes to see who has him. When I put him to my breast, he was much gentler - took it all in - and took his time. They already seem soo different! I love it!

Cris painted the babies room today with my brother in law Fab - we painted the room a nice green colour - it looks fabulous. As you can guess, we are starting to come to the reality that our boys will be coming home with us in time and we need to start preparing for this.

Well that is all for today. Both boys will be bathed tomorrow and we will be sure to post some pictures. Thanks for checking in and thanks for your continued support - we appreciate it more than you will ever know.

lots of love,
cris, liza, ciaran and shay