Tuesday, October 28, 2008

RSV Season...Things our Friends and Family Need to Know!

Hey everyone...

RSV season is now officially upon us and has already begun to hit the Lemonovich Family (PLEASE SEE JOHN'S POST BELOW ABOUT KATE AND HER HOSPITALIZATION). RSV is a very important matter, especially to premature, low birth weigh infants such as ours. For those of you who have thought about visiting us, our family and volunteers who lovingly come daily or weekly to help with the babies and even those of you who live far away who have no intentions of stopping by, please take just a few minutes to read this post.

We want to start by saying thank you for the outpouting of support we have received from everyone. So many people have done so much for us, and every bit of help we have received truly is appreciated. We are experiencing the biggest challenge of our lives and we're lucky to be surrounded by so many family members and friends who have shown us so much love and support.

We'd also like to share an important topic that we recently discussed with our babies' pediatrician following John's recent diagnosis of bronchiolitis and Kate's current hospitalization. If you are not aware of RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, you are among the majoirty. Most people have not heard of RSV, even though nearly every child has had the virus by age two. For full term babies, RSV typically is not any worse than a common cold, but for preemies, the virus can be quite different. Babies born earlier than 36 weeks (the quads were born at 26 weeks, 6 days) are at the highest risk for serious complications like pneumonia, bronchiolitis and other sometimes fatal complications. This website offers a great visual comparison of a preemie's lungs compared to the lumgs of a full term baby: http://www.preemiecare.org/LungsTrees03-4.pdf

Preventing the spread of RSV is very difficult. Thus, we must be vigilant about keeping the babies safe during RSV season - October through April. The virus is spread through physical contact, in the air via a cough or sneeze, or by touching an infected object. The virus can live as long as six hours on the hands and up to twelve hours on objects, and it spreads very easily, especially from child to child. Studies have also shown that infants post an even higher risk of spreading RSV to others.

You may ask, "Can't they fight it off and build up their immune system? Kids need to get sick, right?" The simple answer is NO. Since our babies were pre-term, they did not acquire the necessary immunities to fight off infection. If they contract RSV, they could be hospitalized (as Kate is now) and develop serious complications.

Keeping the babies illness free for the entire period will be a near impossible task, especially with Big Brother Luke constantly trying to "love up" on them by kissing and hugging them. However, we are asking any necessary visitors or our volunteers to follow a few guidelines to help prevent the babies from contracting RSV or any other illnesses.

We ask that all visitors do the following:

1. When you arrive, please take your shoes off at the door so as not to track and dirt, slush from the snow, etc. onto the carpets.

2. Please always be sure to wash your hands with hot, soapy water and use hand sanitizer as needed before touching each of the babies.

3. Please refrain from coming over if you are currently sick and have not been symptom-free for at least 5 days, if you live with someone who is sick, or have been in close contact with someone who is sick.

4. If you smoke, we aks that you change your clothing and refrain from smoking prior to visiting, as a preemie's lungs are very sensitive to smoke.

5. If you are parents to a baby or toddler, PLEASE refrain from bringing them to our house during RSV season.

It will be difficult for us to attend many public events during the RSV season. Our goal is to make it through this season with as little exposure to RSV or any other illnesses as possible.

Please, please, please understand that this post isn't meant to offend anyone or imply in any way that we don't completely appreciate all of the love, good wishes and acts of kindness that have been done on our behalf. For right now though, the babies and their health is the most important thing.

If you have any questions about RSV or whether or not you should come to the house to visit, volunteer, etc., please don't hesitate to contact me via email @ carrielw33@hotmail.com.

Love and good health to you all!

Kate has a slight setback...lands back in hospital

It seems like everyone is getting sick and our babies are especially susceptible to sickness, namely respiratory viral infections, and last week Luke came down with something that sounded like it was in his chest/throat. Despite our efforts to isolate him from the babies, each baby started with nasal stuffiness and a nasty cough. We took baby John to the hospital last week as his cough seemed especially bad. He was diagnosed with bronchiolitis, a common illness, especially in infants that is most likely caused by Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). He was given no antibiotics since it is a viral infection and they only work for bacterial infections. Trying to keep the others from getting it is pretty much a losing battle and sure enough Kate started with the symptoms before the weekend and seemed to worsen each day.

Kate has been fighting her chronic lung disease since the NICU and her "weak" lungs make her even more susceptible to illness. Kate seemed to get a little worse each day until Sunday night (in the middle of the night) Kate had a big choking episode and apnea and even a bradycardia. A special thanks to Fran, our nanny, for reacting calmly, sensibly, and in such a prompt way as the timing was critical once the choking started and went on from there. As you could imagine it was very scary and she was taken by ambulance to Children’s hospital where she is stabilized and they are monitoring her closely and providing treatment. From what we understand it sounds like she will be there for at least a week or so until they get her back on track with her breathing and eating. Whether the bronchiolitis is caused by RSV or influenza or other, her treatment is the same. They are giving her fluids to keep hydrated, increased O2, some steroid treatment, and monitoring her closely. Hopefully some of her CHP NICU friends can come and visit her while she’s there!

We pray for Kate and that God would hold her in his hands as she fights through another battle and we pray that she can come back home soon. We will be posting soon some information/restrictions on visitations and hand-washing, etc… now that RSV season has started and presents a serious risk to our babies.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pictures of Luke among the nuthouse...

As a follow-up to yesterday's post - what does Luke think about everything amongst all the chaos??...this picture sums it up :)

Luke is an excellent big brother so far! He "helps" us by always trying to give them his food, or shove binkys into their mouths, or give them a little rock if they're in the swing. This evening Luke was going to give Claire just a little push in her swing (okay it was more than a little push - he pulled it all the way up and was about to let go as we caught him!). He loves them very much though and he kisses each one before he goes to bed. He also still likes to say "nice baby... nice baby". In the midst of being so busy, in some ways Luke is more entertained now than ever before as so many of our wonderful friends & family come to play with him, and Luke often plays with his cousins. He especially asks for his cousin Jack as he sees him the most and is close in age to him. Our friend Natalie ("Portraits by Natalie" - see the link on our main page) takes fantastic pictures and recently took a few when 3 of the babies were home (minus Kate) and Luke. She is going to take more and we'll post them but here is one she already took of Luke:

I just wanted to write a little about Luke with what little "free time" I had so that's all for tonight - hope to post again soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pictures from the Nuthouse courtesy of the Head Nuts!

OK, so I said 10 days ago "I'll post some pictures of Kate's homecoming tomorrow". As you can clearly see, that never happened. Ahhh....life is so incredibly "full" these days at the Lemonovich household. The babies are doing very well - everyone is growing and getting so big! It's amazing to think that they were once so incredibly small. My Mom's cousin, Nancy, came over the other day for her volunteer shift and she brought us a small wooden sign shaped like an acorn with a small squirrell on it that said "Welcome to The Nuthouse". It couldn't be more appropriate!

Poppy Wible has assigned each of the babies their now famous nicknames so I'll use them as I give you updates on how each is doing:

Kate "The Slurper" Lemonovich is doing SO well at home. She has some occasional alarms with her apnea monitor but we're slowly getting used to it and not jumping into "panic mode" when it does go off. As hard as it is to believe, she's probably the most average baby out of the four! She eats well about every 4 to 4 1/2 hours, sleeps like a dream, and has a very pleasant disposition. She even stools once a day which is amazing when you remember what she's been through surgically since she was born! She acquired her nickname because she loves to slurp down her bottles in record time and she burps quietly like a dreamboat! I think she's still decompressing from her hospital stay - although I think the NICU was actually more quiet than our house!

John "The Goat Man" is also looking much older and mature these days as you'll see in the pictures below. He's up over 7 lbs. and despite some minor reflux and major gas pain issues, John is one sweet boy. John's nickname is obvious is you've ever been around him for more than five minutes. When he stretches or wakes up from a nap, he makes this gentle nanny goat sound that is absolutely hysterical! John has actually captured it on video and when we finally figure out how to upload videos on to the blog, we'll be sure to post it.

Elizabeth "Lizzie The Spitter" Lemonovich is one pleasant baby. Lizzie honestly doesn't make a sound unless she REALLY needs something. She lays on her boppy pillow and smiles or stretches and has the sweetest disposition of any baby I've ever seen. Lizzie has got to be close to 9 lbs. these days. She eats like a champ but as her nickname indicates, she's good for at least one big projectile spit-up a week. Tonight, for example, she spit up her entire 3 oz. bottle over John's shoulder and onto our sofa! The best part is - she doesn't even make a whimper when she's done! She just smiles and waits for you to feed her more.

Claire "The Screamer" Lemonovich is also affectionately known to us a "Lungs". The nicknames should be self-explanatory. Claire is so incredibly sweet and adorable. It's hard to believe just by looking at her that one minute she'll be completely happy and the next minute she is screaming her lungs out! Claire suffers from some wicked acid reflux and gas. I feel so bad for my little pumpkin because it's evident that sometimes, she's really uncomfortable. I wish there was something we could do that would ease her pain - believe me, we've tried every product, bottle, nipple and homeopathic remedy that they make - but sometimes, babies just fuss and you have to ride out the storm. Despite all of this, Claire is a precious little baby and we love her to death.

Well, it's time for bed but I'll leave you with a few pics of the babies to close out the evening. Good night and God bless!

Momma Bear with all of her cubs :)

Elizabeth and John squeeze in some snuggle time...

Beautiful Kate...

Group nap!!!

Kate's homecoming day...FREE AT LAST!!!

Lizzie gettin' some love from Grandma Wible...

Claire whispering secrets to John..."if you just scream a little louder, she comes running much faster!!!"

The Screamer and The Spitter team up as the newest Dynamic Duo!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Kate comes home...

It seems as though I should have a much more thrilling title for this post than just simply "Kate comes home", but there are no words that can accurately describe the joy that we feel, so best just to keep it simple. At 4:00 this afternoon, brave, feisty, beautiful little Kate Lemonovich came home. She is on a very small amount of oxygen and has an apnea monitor, but that's it. She is doing so incredibly well. It's hard to believe that this little peanut was just 1 lb. 4 oz at birth. As of her discharge today, she is a pleasantly plump 6 lbs, 13 oz. I cannot share how amazing it is to see her with John, Claire and Elizabeth FINALLY! Seeing them all together with big brother Luke today made me totally "get" Jerry McGuire's famous line....my kids and my husband "complete me". Life got a little sweeter today just by looking at our family of 7 and seeing just how lucky we are.

In all honesty....I am totally exhausted. This is the best and toughest job I have ever had and ever will have, but we love it. There are days that we don't stop laughing and some days when all I want to do is cry. I'm going to hit the hay for tonight but tomorrow, I'll do my best to post some homecoming pictures, pictures of all four babies together and also post some pics of our sweet new conversion van. Oh yeah, my friends...can you say Scooby Doo's "Mystery Machine" with a fold down leather sofa and DVD player???

Until tomorrow then....

(Chief Nut of the Lemonovich Nut Farm!)