October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I have mentioned before how baffled I am at the fact that no one in my neighborhood ever goes outside. It's a relatively new neighborhood and almost every house has kids. Every time Greta and I walk the babies its like a science fiction movie where everyone suddenly vanished. Tonight was no different. I set up to scare the trick or treators with decorations and a stereo system in the yard and we got only 3 groups of kids. It's not how I remember it as a kid, do children trick or treat anymore? Are their parents too protective to let them outside? Are they too fat to walk around for their candy? Do they trick or treat online in 'Second Life'? I really hope this is isolated to my neighborhood and that other ones are bustling with little children everywhere screaming and having fun. Anyway, with everything that is going on Greta did manage to get the trio dressed up for a photo shoot. Lukas is on top, Gabbie is in the middle and Niklas is on the bottom.

In other news, Gabbie has cut her first two teeth on the bottom. The babies are progressing more and more into the toddler phase every day and are becoming more fun all of the time. I do, however, need to get in shape again if I am going to keep up with these guys. They are getting heavier and more active with each day that passes. They are going to wear mom and dad out.

October 29, 2007

Back Home

I realize that a disproportionate number of these posts revolve around poop, but it's amazing stuff. The big things to watch for after a surgery like this are infection, nausea, and vomiting. The vomiting is an indication that something could be off neurologically. However, each day when neurosurgery stopped by to check up on him, they kept saying "It's really hard to get worried about a kid who looks and acts so good". Even though Niklas could not hold down any food, he was still laughing, smiling and playing. The only thing we could think of was that he hadn't pooped since a day or two before the surgery. Could it be that he was so full of you know what that he couldn't eat? His belly was definitely sensitive to the touch.

I kept advocating for a stool softener or a suppository to relieve him of this discomfort. As it turns out, codeine and other pain killers are much easier to get a hold of in the hospital than a suppository. Finally, after nagging and nagging for a day and a half, one of the nurses relented and just gave one to him. After about 45 minutes, along came one of the most epic poops I have ever seen. Although it wasn't hard (sorry for the description), he screamed in pain as if his belly had been strechted to the limit and was collapsing again back to it's normal size. From that point on, Niklas held down everything he ate.

It's so good to be back home after spending 3 nights in the hospital. I did all the stayovers since we need mommy to be fresh and happy because without her the household completely falls apart. Our "cellmate" was a baby fresh out of the NICU. She was 4 lbs., was on constant monitoring and was still being fed by feeding tube. Over the course of the 4 days and 3 nights I spent there, the parents showed up for about 20 minutes total. They didn't even hold the baby, although they dressed her up in cute clothes before they left. On Sunday's visit, the dad watched the Lions game the whole time instead of Kangarooing his tiny little daughter. Because she couldn't regulate her temperature, the room was cranked up to about 90 degrees, and there were constant bells and whistles going off. I had to page the nurses station about once an hour to get them to come shut off various alarms so Niklas could sleep. Every time I leave UM, I always remember how incredibly blessed we are.

Finally, I want to thank our genius neurosurgeon Dr. Cormac Maher. This guy, in conjucntion with the rest of the brilliant staff in Pediatric Neurosurgery, is one of the primary reasons why Niklas is doing as well as he is. Earlier this month we were saddened to learn that he would be leaving. Greta and I seriously considered finding out where he was moving to and following him. It turns out that he has declined the position of Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Mayo Clinic. Not exactly a position to scoff at. Apparently he has taken a hit to both his prestige and wallet to stay in Ann Arbor. I don't know what the reasons are, but we both feel blessed that he will be taking care of Niklas at least for a little while longer. I wake up in the morning and go write code. Dr. Maher wakes up in the morning and operates on the brains of children. God bless him. If anyone out there is reading this blog because they are going through the same thing, you need to be talking to Dr. Maher and the Pediatric Neurosurgery department at the University of Michigan.

October 28, 2007

Slow Recovery

I am actually writing this from the Family Lounge at Mott Hospital as we have not yet brought Niklas home. The surgery went very well. In fact, the surgeon told us that he could not be more pleased. Niklas woke up in the recovery room a happy camper and immediately scarfed down 6 o.z. of formula. It looked as if we would be coming home first thing Saturday morning. Around 11 p.m. he spiked a low grade fever and wasn't able to hold down anymore food. On Saturday it was hit or miss as to whether or not he could eat without puking. Although we were stuck in the hospital another night, things looked like they were improving and that we would be able to come home on Sunday. Last night he slept wonderfully and I was really thinking that he would eat today and be ready to go home. Unfortunately, as of 1:00 p.m., he has still not been able to hold down a meal. He is happy, smiling and acting completely like himself, but he just has a hard time eating. The doctor's surmised that it may be constipation as his belly was sensitive to the touch. The surgeons are pretty confident that this nausea is not neurological as they said they couldn't even justify a CAT scan on a kid that looked as good as Niklas. It seems as though his digestive system has just not started working fully since the surgery. Finally about 12:00 today he passed through what we think was bothering him and we are praying that things start getting better from here on out.

October 25, 2007

Pre Surgery Update

Tomorrow we are to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m., which is much earlier than we had to be there for the other surgeries. Hopefully this means that the surgery itself will also be earlier. To be honest, we just want to get this thing over with. Niklas has been doing very well up to this point, and it’s really hard for us to put him through surgery when nothing is outwardly wrong with him. We are doing this so that the ultrasound looks better and to avoid any issues in the future that this “pocket of fluid” may cause.

Niklas will be undergoing his fourth brain surgery in just 10 months which, when I think about it, seems absolutely terrible. The truth is, Niklas has been an absolute joy and surprise to us this whole time. He has kept up with, and in some areas surpassed, Gabbie and Lukas developmentally. He is such an incredibly happy baby who will always smile back at you, even when he is not feeling well.

One of the toughest things for me is that Niklas has much more of a personality now than he did back on the first surgery. Then, he really didn’t know what was going on and we just wanted our baby fixed and home. Now, he is much more cognizant of what is going on and will probably be somewhat scared. We know that this is for the best, but please pray for us that all goes well tomorrow.

October 21, 2007

Wiped Out

October has been an exhausting month so far. We had the news of Niklas's surgery followed by the baptism and then a road trip vacation. When we returned from our trip, all three of the kids had come down with colds. We took them to the pediatrician on Wednesday to get another round of immunizations and flu shots. Thursday, Niklas developed a fever of 102-103, so we took him back in.

We were a little worried since fever is a sign of shunt failure (but also a reaction to the flu shot). What we need to do is to start trusting our instincts. Although he didn't feel great, he was acting fine, eating, and still smiling and laughing. My gut was telling me that this was just a run of the mill fever, but what if? On Friday, the fever was not gone, so we were advised to take him in once again.

Friday, the in laws left and we were sad to see them go as they were a lot of fun to have around and a huge help too. This week, however, we get the relief of my mom coming down to help out while Niklas has his surgery. I think we are mainly wiped out in anticipation of this. It's hard to even fathom that my kid will be having his 4th brain surgery in just 10 months, but we know that this is for the best and that it is all in God's hands. Thanks again to everyone who has been reading this and offering their support.

October 14, 2007

Holiday Road Part III

It's funny that this little trip has taken up 3 posts, but we crammed so much in that it's warranted. No Clark W. Griswold family vacation would be complete without over-extending yourself. After 3 wonderful nights in Traverse City, it probably would have been best to call it quits. But no, we had St. Ignace, Mackinaw Island, and Taquamenon falls yet to tackle. After all, we're the Myers family.

So we packed up the van and headed North up M-31 towards the bridge, having lunch in Petoskey on the way and feeding the babies while we were there. Pestoskey is also one of those places that I wouldn't mind living. It really was a beautiful drive, but exhaustion started to set in. I had lost the papers for the hotel in St. Ignace, but that really wasn't a big deal since I knew the owners of the Best Western also owned the hotel that we were staying at and it wouldn't be hard to find.

The whole drive to the bridge was beautiful. We stopped and looked at a bunch of gorgeous lakes that I had never seen before and picked out yet a few more places I would like to live. We crossed the bridge into St. Ignace, and I spotted the bed and breakfast I figured to be the one we were staying at. To be sure, we pulled into the Best Western to ask them. Turns out, they didn't own another hotel, I was confused. However, the B.W. looked pretty nice and I thought we would stay there. I asked the receptionist if I could use their computer to find where we were staying so I could cancel our reservation and book with them. We now had our hotel, but we all concluded that we were exhausted and that this would be our last night. Tomorrow we would head home and take the rest of Sunday and Monday to recoup.

But if this was our last night, then Mackinaw Island was out of the question. Taquamenon Falls was our only option, after all it was only a 45 minute drive. We would do the falls, and then head home in the morning. The 45 minute was really almost a 2 hour drive. It turns out that measuring mileage on the map with your index finger and thumb is not all that accurate. By the time we got to the Falls we were at the end of our rope and ready to jump over the falls. On the site is a brewery and restaurant to which we headed to eat, feed the trio and enjoy a much needed beer. Once everyone had their food, the outlook was much sunnier. We had an absolutely incredible stroll around the falls which were nothing short of awesome this time of year. We got back to the hotel late, put the babies to bed and prepared for our drive home.

The next day, we stopped under the bridge in Mackinaw City to take some pictures and then headed home. Again, the babies were angels the whole time. Our little guys are troopers and have encouraged us to venture out even more. Before long, they will be world travellers like Mom and Dad.

I created a map outlining our trip with each day's route being color coded. Click on each of the markers to see more about the location. Click here to see more pictures.

Holiday Road Part II

We woke up on our first morning in Traverse City not really knowing what we were going to do. The original plan was to visit downtown Traverse, but it was cold and rainy and that didn't seem appealing anymore. Dailius suggested that we go to the mall as he did not bring along a warm enough coat. The weather was supposed to clear up and we figured that by the time we did the mall that we could continue with the plan. We got to the mall around 10:00 a.m. and went to T.J. Maxx to get a coat. 11:00 rolled around and we needed to eat and feed the babies, so we went to the food court. Once the babies and adults were fed, the babies needed to be changed and then it was 12:30.

Halfway through the first day of our 'adventure' and we had seen T.J. Maxx. I figured we might as well head over to Best Buy, J.C. Penney and Target making this the most exotic vacation ever! When we left the mall it was still cold and rainy. I had the Leelanau trip planned for the next day, so I had to come up with something. We decided to drive up the Old Mission Peninsula, and it was a good choice. It was such a beautiful drive up this narrow peninsula which is now among the top 5 places I wish to live. The lifestyle up north is so different. No one is in a hurry driving as they will even politely pull over to the shoulder to let you pass them. Along the way, we stopped at a self serve road side stand to buy some apples. The owners just left the cash box out so people could pay and make their own change. I could get used life up there.

The next day, we took our trip around the Leelanau Peninsula. Quite honestly, I think this is the most beautiful part of Michigan and maybe one of my favorite places ever (and that's saying alot). We heading across M-72 over to the Sleeping Bear Dunes for some site seeing. We posed for some pictures, but took turns staying in the van with the babies as the temperature on some of these overlooks was in the low 40's with 40+ mph winds. We continued on to have lunch in Leeland, drove through Northport, Suttons Bay, and then headed back to the hotel.

We didn't sleep to well in T.C., but it wasn't until the last night that we discovered the reason. The cribs provided did not have a bumper around the edges. As a result, when one of the babies lost their binky and started to search for it, there was a good chance they would knock it on to the floor. We woke up every 2 hours in order to give someone a pacifier. In addition, the mattresses were too soft and the babies could not flip over because of it. Once we got the pack 'n' plays set up at the next hotel, all was well. The picture is of Lukas deciding it was time for lunch.

I created a map outlining our trip with each day's route being color coded. Click on each of the markers to see more about the location. Click here to see more pictures.

Holiday Road Part I

So Greta, her parents, the triplets and I took our first Griswold style family road trip consisting of over 900 miles of fall color viewing and Michigan site seeing. I created a map outlining our trip with each day's route being color coded. Click on each of the markers to see more about the location. Click here to see more pictures.

We rented a minivan for this trip with me in the Captain's seat, Dailius riding shotgun, Niklas and Irena taking the two bucket seats behind me, and Greta sardined between Lukas and Gabbie in the rear bench seat. We left Ypsilanti Wednesday afternoon, making our way up to my parent's cottage in Cadillac for a break to feed the babies. After giving them their bottles and a jar of food each, we moved on to Traverse City. When we got there we figured the best course of action would be to eat dinner, check into the hotel, feed the babies and then put them to bed.

This was our fist restaurant experience with the babies. As we stood outside the doors of the establishment, Greta was very nervous to go in. I think she was afraid we would burden the patrons with our over abundance of babies. In my tired state of mind I decided that I no longer cared. I figured that this is my family and the world just needs to deal with it. Besides, every where we go my kids are pretty good and I generally see much worse from other peoples offspring. The babies were angels and just sat in their strollers while we had a glass of wine and enjoyed our meal. In fact, besides breakfast, we (including the babies) ate every meal on this trip in a restaurant. This was a real eye opener for us, as we have been reluctant to take the babies out to eat up until this point. Now we are seasoned pros, and our efficiency continues to amaze me. Having the grandparents along was priceless, and having a saint for a wife doesn't hurt either.

While letting the babies play (supervised of course) on one of the king sized beds, we suddenly realized that are babies are mobile. I turned my head for two seconds only to hear a loud thud. Lukas had rolled off of the bed and onto the floor and was not one bit happy about it. He screamed for a while, but was just fine. Once everyting calmed down we put the babies in the cribs provided by the hotel. Although we did lug along 3 pack 'n' plays, we thought it would be easier to put them in the provided cribs. Despite that little incident we survived the first day. The picture is of Niklas catching up on his reading during the long car ride.

October 7, 2007

The Baptism

Sunday was the baptism of the triplets followed by a lunch at our house. Everything went very well, aside from the fact that it was one of the hottest days of the year. I was worried that we would be trapped inside because of rain, in October you just don't think heat will be a factor. As part of the celebration I put together a sappy video commemorating their first 9 months of life up to the baptism, which I posted above. Thanks to everyone who came, it was a wonderful time. A baptism is always a very special occasion, but considering the miracle these little guys are it was even more so. We are both exhausted now and are looking forward to our vacation up north this week and to the hot weather finally going away.

God parents
Niklas - Kevin Currie & Indre Miseikyte
Lukas - Ben & Emily Myers
Gabriella - Adam Licari & Sarah Myers

October 2, 2007

Common Courtesy

I don't want to put up an angry post. We have so much to be thankful for and nothing to complain about. However, I feel the need to rant. Sometimes I feel like the only way to get things done in life is to be an adversarial and unpleasant person (there is probably a better word that is unsuitable for this blog). We all deal with the customer service phone jockey whose only lot in life is to irritate you, but when it comes to the health and well being of your child things are different. We had an appointment last Tuesday with neurosurgery at U of M. We were advised that the best course of action would be for Niklas to have another surgery. The neurosurgeon informed me that he would be out of the office on Wednesday, but that he would get a hold of me on Thursday or Friday after he discussed things further with the radiologist.

Sept. 28th - Early in the afternoon we have not yet received a call so Greta leaves a message with the doctor.

Sept. 30th - Still haven't heard anything, so I send the doctor an email asking him to call us to discuss the surgery.

Oct. 2nd - Still haven't received a call, so I leave a message with neurosurgery asking that someone call us. I don't really care who, just someone.

At the end of the day today, I still had not recieved a call so I left a voicemail in which the tone started to change. This is where I start venturing over to the dark side. Tomorrow, if I don't hear from them, the message will start to border on nasty. Eventually it will progress to me taking the day off of work and sitting there until someone talks to me. I dont' understand why people can't just communicate with me. This is my baby's health we are talking about and although it is a matter that is not pressing, I feel I deserve a phone call. This is not some call center in India I am dealing with, this is a neurosurgeon. A highly educated individual that should understand my level of concern and treat me with some respect. From what I understand, he is leaving the practice soon, so I imagine he has one foot out the door and doesn't really care too much. I actually understand this, I have mentally checked out from jobs before, but all I ask is that someone call me...Anyone! Again, this is not really a huge deal, but lack of common courtesy is a pet peeve of mine.