Wednesday, April 30, 2014
In just 4 short days our family once again be walking with Team Holland and Eden March for Babies to raise money for the March of Dimes!
It has been over 9 years since our twins arrived way too soon and much too small, yet every day I look at them and still see those babies fighting for their lives in the NICU. I never take their lives for granted, and I am grateful for every day that I get to watch them grow and thrive. They enrich my life, and the lives of everyone who knows and loves them, every day.
We have come so far in the past 9 years. Holland and Eden are in third grade, reading chapter books and learning their multiplication tables. Eden continues to love horseback riding and Holland has earned her orange senior belt in Choi Kwang Do. Both girls are enjoying another year of Girl Scouts and are realllllly looking forward to summer vacation!
Despite all of the progress they are making and all of the joy that they bring, the long-term effects of their prematurity will always be a part of our lives. Eden underwent surgery on a paralyzed vocal cord at the end of March and received her second cochlear implant last Monday. This makes a total of 12 surgeries between the two of them. Eden also completed 2 weeks of intensive PT at EuroPeds in February, and we are planning a 4 week session of conductive education this summer in Grand Rapids. It never gets any easier watching them go through so much.
I am thankful for advances in neonatal care that made our girls' lives possible 9 years ago. I hope that with continued research into causes and prevention of pre-term labor, as well as improved treatment options for those born too soon, fewer babies will face the long-term consequences of such an early birth.
With the help of our family, friends, and online supporters, Team Holland and Eden has already raised over $34,000 for the March of Dimes. We hope to continue our tradition of being one of the top family teams in our region and we are setting our sights high! Please visit our page to make a donation and to assist us in achieving our goal of helping to save babies!
Thank you so much for you support in our fund raising efforts over the years, and thank you in advance for supporting Team Holland and Eden as we walk this year!
Thank you all so much for your kindness and support,
Billie, John, Holland, Eden and Violet!
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
|Daddy Daughter Dance 2014|
Eden has always had a very quiet voice. As a baby, when she would scream until her face would turn red and tears would flow, but no sound would come out except for some squeaks and hisses. We have always suspected that her cord might be paralyzed, but we had so many other things on our plate that her quiet voice was not a top priority.
Now that Eden is older, the impact of not being able to speak up is becoming more apparent. At home or in quiet settings when we are in the same room we can hear her. It is tricky in situations where there is a lot of background noise, like in the car, restaurants, pool, as well as when she is across the house or in another room. Sometimes we really struggle to hear what she is saying and she has to repeat herself a LOT. It is also a struggle in social situations at school and in the classroom. Eden is very social and makes every effort to participate in conversation, but she often has a hard time hearing what everyone is saying (because of only one cochlear implant), and they cannot hear her when she responds. Kids are busy, and many times they do not take the time to listen closely or wait for her to repeat herself. This has become more isolating over the years and she tends to gravitate now to conversations with adults who will make more of an effort to hear her (and make sure she hears them).
We initially learned of the reinnervation surgery from our friend Abby in Philadelphia. Her daughter Hallie also had a paralyzed cord from pda ligation, and they were lucky to be near a voice clinic and one of the doctors who specializes in this field. Hallie had the surgery over a year ago and they shared their good success with us. Abby was kind enough to talk to Hallie's doctor and surgeon about Eden, and she referred us to someone local who could help us.
Dr. Brown at the University of Michigan hospital did a scope of Eden's larynx in January and confirmed the diagnosis. He was very optimistic about us pursuing the surgery for Eden and expressed that he feels that there is good hope for a positive outcome. Hallie's doctor in Philly, Dr. Karen Zur stressed that this surgery should be performed within 7 years of injury, and Eden is 9 1/2. This was not mentioned by our doctor in Michigan, but I feel glad to have the knowledge so I can have realistic expectations.
The reinnervation surgery will not "fix" Eden's vocal cord or make it move again, but over time it should help give it some additional bulk and tone, and prevent it from further atrophy so that Eden can get better vocal cord closure and more volume from her voice. The reinnervation will take 6 months to a year to get full benefit, so at the same time Eden is having a vocal cord bulking procedure done which should give her some immediate results. (Coincidently, another micropreemie friend Kaitlyn is having the same reinnervation surgery the day after us in Utah. Eden and Kaitlyn had a fun Skype session this past weekend to hear each other's voices and chat about their upcoming surgeries (among other 8 and 9 year old topics of conversation:).
It is really, really stressful on John and I (and Eden of course) to go through all of this after so long without any surgeries or hospitalizations. We are feeling very apprehensive, rusty, and out of practice. I would love to keep my kids safe in our bubble and never worry about any of this again, but life moves on doesn't it? We are really, really hopeful that doing these surgeries will improve Eden's quality of life by making communication easier for her in the long run, particularly in light of the other challenges she faces. Eden is very social and wants her voice to be heard.
She has so much to say.
|Daddy Daughter Dance 2014|
|Daddy Daughter Dance 2014|
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Somewhere around the 5-month mark Violet turned into a super-delightful, good natured, sweet and silly baby. She is very affectionate and loves to give hugs and kisses to her family. She pats us on the back and says “Awwwwww.” She is a little mimic, with her head-tip, vocal intonations, and hand gestures, acting like she is having grown-up conversations with her jibber-jabber voice.
She has also been a slow starter with gross-motor skills. At her 9-month physical the doctor expressed some concern that she wasn’t crawling yet, and suggested that I contacted early intervention to have her evaluated. I didn’t, but I did have 2 of
There have been moments of jealousy and frustration because she does demand a great deal of attention. Holland and Eden were used to being at the center of our universe for 8 years, so it has been an adjustment for all of us, but all in all, our lives have been enriched by having this little ball of energy and light join our crazy family.