Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

                                    "Every good and perfect gift is from above." James 1:17

This Bible verse is often used in reference to babies, as a reminder that young ones are precious gifts from our Heavenly Father. Today, however, this verse can also be used to describe the gift of godly men in the role of a father.

Jaden and Cody have the best dad in the world! He is so patient with them, even when they wake him up at all hours of the night. The boys love Daddy's smile and the way that he regularly sings to them and kisses them on the forehead. Daddy loves cuddling with his boys and does a great job of caring for their basic needs, too (burping, bottle-feeding, and diaper changing). In fact, diapering became so much Daddy's job that Mommy didn't even change a single diaper during our WHOLE stay at the hospital! That's a LOT of messy diapers for a new daddy. Daddy is so gentle and loving with his boys, and Jaden & Cody already love him dearly. Thank you for being such a wonderful Daddy! Happy First Father's Day, Jason!

We celebrated Father's Day at the Schleicher household by making our first official outing as a family of four (other than to doctor's appointments) to church. It felt so great to visit with our Trinity church family and to show off our boys. Both Jaden and Cody slept throughout the entire service! The rest of the day was spent relaxing-- napping, visiting with family on the phone, watching sports. It was also a blessing to be able to celebrate Father's Day with Amy's dad. We thank God for his wonderful example of parenting and the way that he has lovingly jumped into the role of grandpa for Jaden and Cody. Papa especially enjoyed spending today combining his baby-watching with the Cardinals game. He's trying to make Jaden and Cody fans at an early age! Happy Father's Day, Dad! We love you!

Identical yet Individual

During the March collection of "Wipes and Onesies" at the school, one thoughtful Trinity family made special onesies for our boys. They assured us that our boys were sure to be unique individuals, and yet the "copy & paste" idea was just too tempting to resist for identical twins. We loved their creative idea and had great plans for a cute photo shoot. We quickly learned, however, that it is quite difficult to get both boys to pose well simultaneously. The photo shoot ended up being a great source of laughter for us all, culminating in a very wet diaper for Jaden that leaked all over his new shirt. Because the event was such a humorous one, we thought we'd post all the pics so you could see the same humorous expressions that we witnessed. Jaden, as the first-arriving twin, is wearing the "copy" shirt. Thank you, Barrie family, for these adorable shirts!

Because our boys are identical, two regular questions that we have been asked are: "Can you tell them apart?" and "What differences in their personalities have you noticed?" During their 2 short weeks of life outside the womb, here is what we've observed so far...

JADEN: has a longer head/face shape, was born smaller but is presently the larger twin, has a strong grip, is a better feeder, loves to be snuggled with his head at your shoulder, cries mainly because of a specific concern, typically more even-tempered, loves to have his hands by his face

CODY: currently the smaller of the two, has a rounder head, loves to be snuggled tightly and held close to one's chest, often goes into a hyper-alert state with extra-wide eyes, doesn't feed as well because he latches on/off/on/off/etc. as if he's worried that he's going to miss something

We'll be interested to hear thoughts from others about our boys' individual qualities as Jaden and Cody meet more of our family and friends in the coming months. We praise God for our identical, and yet unique, little boys!

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Collection of Firsts

What an adventure it has been to have our two boys at home with us! We are all learning together about the difficult challenges, and also the amazing joys, of raising two new little ones. It has certainly been a blessing to have both Grammy & Papa (Amy's parents) here to help. Even with four sets of hands, Jaden & Cody still keep us hopping! During the boys' first week at home, we have enjoyed experiencing many FIRSTS together...

FIRST BATH: Jaden, our firstborn, had bath #1. He handled it much more calmly than we expected! The snuggle time at the end of the bath quickly became a favorite bonding time for both Mommy and Daddy.

Cody also handled the bath fairly well, with only a few more screams than his older brother. Mommy and Daddy especially enjoyed the post-bath, good-smelling lotion time. We ended our dual bathtime with a celebratory fist bump-- what an accomplishment!

FIRST TIME MEETING PAPA: Papa arrived in Billings only a few days after our return home. We quickly put him to work feeding and burping little Cody.

When it came time to put Cody to sleep, Papa got a bit confused... Perhaps all these baby duties are a little exhausting!

FIRST PEDICURE: After the boys' bathtime, we removed all of the remaining hospital tags. It scared us a bit to know that there were no longer any identifying marks on either twin. Although we feel like we can usually tell the boys apart, we wanted to be 100% confident. So... on went the toenail polish!  As our firstborn, Jaden became the lucky one to have his big toe painted. He didn't seem to mind the process too much.

Mommy also had her first post-labor pedicure. Grammy pulled out all the stops-- even massaging Amy's tired feet with lotion. Amy loves the fact that her swelling is finally beginning to decrease and that her long-time swollen feet are starting to return to normal.

FIRST 3-COURSE MEAL: At our first pediatrician's appointment, we were concerned to learn that our boys, particularly Cody, were not showing a healthy weight gain. The boys seem to tire quickly as they feed, with neither showing a consistently strong sucking reflex. To boost their weight, we started on a more advanced feeding system. At each feeding time, we feed each boy 3 courses: breastmilk with Mommy, pumped breastmilk, and then a formula supplement. Although this regimen is a bit more exhausting for all of us, it's exactly what they needed! Both boys showed a positive weight gain at their next appointment. Here, Jason is feeding Cody and Papa is feeding Jaden. Please continue to pray with us that their weight gain would continue.

As the first week at home with our boys comes to an end, we continue to marvel at God's handiwork of creation! We love our two little boys and look forward to all the adventures of FIRSTS yet to come.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Our Homecoming

The two of us were very pleased with the care we received at the hospital-- kind NICU nurses, knowledgeable doctors, helpful lactation consultants, and necessary painkillers ;). And yet, it was such a glorious feeling to hear, after 5 1/2 days in the hospital, that we were finally headed home to begin our adventures as a family of four. While we were finishing paperwork and final checkups at the hospital, Grammy was busy preparing our home for Jaden and Cody's arrival.

On Wednesday afternoon (June 6th), the hospital employees cut off our security bands, and we were headed out the door. The nurses double-checked our carseats and sent us on our way. What a strange, scary, and exciting feeling it was to be alone with our 2 precious boys, knowing that they were now fully under our care. Neither boy made a peep the whole way home.

We all smiled at seeing Grammy's hard work on the welcome home sign. What a fun thing to see while pulling into our cul-de-sac! Thanks, Grammy!

The boys, now fully tuckered out, posed for their first of many pictures in the Schleicher home. (Jaden-left & Cody right) We love you, boys. Welcome Home!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our Remaining Stay in the Hospital

Hospitals are places often filled with deep concern, hope for healing, and lots of prayer.  Our stay was no different.  Some hours before our C-section, Amy developed a fairly serious infection that, according to our doctors, could have killed her or the babies 50 years ago.  We are very thankful for improvements in today's modern medicine and God's merciful protection and healing.  Both of our boys contracted at least part of Amy's same infection, so they were cautiously held in the NICU for two days to receive antibiotics and be monitored constantly.  Our hospital's NICU allows parents to visit their children for all but two hours of the day.  We were thankful that our boys were under the care of wonderful NICU nurses who helped establish "caring times" every three hours.  On day 2 (Sunday), Jason went to most of the non-late night caring times and learned some very important father-of-twins roles.  The pictures below are of Jason caring for Cody.  The kind nurses taught Daddy how to CHANGE DIAPERS...

...FEED FROM A BOTTLE (for needed nutrition until Mommy's infection cleared up and could start breastfeeding)...


We were blessed to have some special visitors come see us in the hospital.  The hospital staff was caring and kind.  They could not replace seeing friendly and familiar faces from our immediate family and church family, however.  We didn't get a picture with each person who came to visit, but here are a few we did take.  Our close friend, Jenn, joined Amy for a Day 2 visit to hold the boys in the NICU.  Amy is holding Jaden.

Jason's brother, Jonathan, (and Jon's sister-in-law, Lindsea) drove through Billings on their way back to Nebraska.  Jonathan is wearing a cute shirt he doctored up with a sign to read "Holy Twins".

Uncle Jon was pretty happy to be the first family member to see the boys.  Here, he proudly holds Jaden.

After spending their first two days of life receiving important antibiotics and care in the NICU, our young sons were released to our room on Monday morning, Day 3.  Our identical boys seemed pretty content and rested well after hearing the great news about being healthy enough to move, too.  For those of you who are still considering their "identical-ness", Cody is on the right.

Days 3-5 in the hospital were filled with many blessings and one main challenge.  Any guesses on what challenge we all faced together?! :)  Two words:  SLEEP DEPRIVATION.  Enough complaining.  Some of the many blessings we experienced from God's gracious hand and the care of other special people were...

-Having Grammy (Amy's mom) arrive in Billings to be a huge support and a needed extra set of hands.

-Welcoming a few more visitors from Church including our dear friends, the Bolls, who even brought us yummy non-hospital food dinner. :)

-Receiving some out-of-town love and support from various family members.  We were able to talk with all of Jaden and Cody's grandparents, aunts, and uncles during our hospital stay which was a great encouragement to us.  The first picture is a special gift of flowers and balloons from Grandpa and Grandma Schleicher.  In the second picture, the boys are showing off a special gift of "Snuggle-Mes" from Uncle Matt and Aunt Kim.  Thank you, family, for your support of gifts, words, prayers, and love!

-Learning a system of organization to track the boys' feedings and other bodily functions.  Here, Jaden looks on as Daddy tries to keep things organized.

-Seeing the boys MOSTLY enjoy a special Bella Baby photo shoot which gave us very professional pictures for future use.  You may see some of these on a baby announcement soon. :)  These first three cute pictures are of Cody.

These next three adorable shots are of Jaden.

These final two precious photos are of our beautiful double blessings from God.  Cody is on the left in both of them.

On our 4th day in the hospital (Tuesday), it was hard for us to think about coming home.  As of our 5th day (and after one more night of people coming in at all hours to poke, prod, monitor, and wake up Amy and the boys), we couldn't get in the van fast enough.  After five days in the hospital, we praised God for Amy's significant progress and recovery from major surgery and a concerning infection.  We thanked Him for His providing good health for our little boys.  We asked Him to be glorified in our family which doubled in size from the time we checked in and was finally heading HOME!  Cody is on the left and Jaden is on the right in these fun going-home pictures.