Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Our Year in Review

So now that we have started 2009, I thought it might be appropriate to do one of those "Year End Review" pieces that you see on Entertainment Tonight and SportsCenter. You know, those ones where they show you the highlights and memorable moments from the year that is about to end? Well, as usual these days, we are a bit late on doing everything... So while it's still relevant, lets review our family's 2008.

Back on New Year's Day 2008, we rang in the new year with our friends at our place. We invited Keith & Amy, Kent & Sally and Scott & Josie over and had a nice little get-together with them. I took my usual week's worth of vacation between Christmas and New Year's and spent it with Jeni at home together. Then, only a few days into the new year, we got the news we had been waiting and hoping so much for, for more than a year. Jeni got a positive pregnancy test! We could barely restrain our excitement, but we kept it a secret.

About 2 weeks later, I went on my last recruiting trip with Macy's. All of the Macy's recruiters met at our San Francisco division for 2 days of meetings. Jeni flew out on Thursday evening and met me. And, Jeni's parents, Jim and Carol met us in San Fran for some great family time.

We even made a trip up to the Napa Valley to sample some wine. Unluckily for Jeni she couldn't enjoy it as much as she liked... We had to be very sly about hiding the fact that Jeni wasn't drinking from the other folks who went with us (friends and co-workers from Macy's). I spent most of the day sampling both my share and Jeni's share (on the sly) of wine.

A few days after we returned home, we had our first trip into her doctor's office for a confirmation and check-up. That's when things got interesting...

As we got into the room with the ultrasound tech, Jeni lay down on the table and I held her hand, praying that things were going o.k. It was only 6 weeks into the pregnancy and she and I were obviously the only ones who knew anything to that point because so many things can go wrong. The ultrasound tech started with the exam...

That's when we saw this...

So, I remember hearing the tech say something like "Well, look at that." Jeni quickly blurted out "IS THAT 2?" And I said, "HUH?" Jeni said something else like "Oh my God, that's two of them." I don't remember much more of the conversations... You could say I was in a bit of shock.
We did get to see the flicker of two tiny heartbeats... Very cool stuff.

Obviously we were thoroughly thrilled that everything else looked great, but still in total shock... We were having twins. We probably said that to ourselves about 100 times that day... Sometimes laughing afterwards... Sometimes chuckling in disbelief... We were having TWINS.

As we attempted to prepare ourselves mentally that our life was definitely going to change a lot in 2008, we didn't realize exactly how much for more than the reason that we were about to become parents. Things got really interesting in February.

It was the first week of February and I went into work as usual on what seemed to be a normal Tuesday. However, things changed quickly when my boss told me that everyone (and I mean the entire company) had been called into a meeting on the 21st floor. We knew then that something big was about to be announced. Rumors started to fly instantly that Terry Lundgren, the President of Macy's Inc. was in our building... Holy cow. It was really big. The predominant opinion was that our division was about to get a lot bigger with a lot more responsibility... Everyone assumed that because of its struggles, Macy's North (formerly Marshall Fields) was going to be absorbed by us. Exciting for us! However, that wasn't the news...

As our CEO began to speak you could tell something bad was about to happen. He then announced that effective by Fall of that year, all business functions currently happening in our offices at Macy's Midwest would be assumed by Macy's South in Atlanta. It was so weird how the sounds in that room were a combination of gasps, sobs, and the air being sucked out all at the same time. Everyone was in disbelief. They dismissed us and we all retreated back to our offices...

Now was the thing I dreaded most. I had to call Jeni and tell her the news. It was about to break in the media in an hour so I had to call her before anyone else did. While no one died or anything of that nature, the phonecall felt that bad. We had just had the happiest news of our lives together, and now everything is thrown for a loop as I may soon be unemployed! Quite a punch in the stomach... Obviously Jeni and everyone in my family had tons of questions about what would happen next... Unfortunately no one really knew, but everyone assumed the worst that we would all be looking for new jobs.

Jeni's pregnancy progressed a few weeks and we decided it was time to tell the grandparents. We decided that a simple phone call wouldn't do, so we decided to send a greeting to everyone from the womb. Here's the photo that we emailed out announcing that Jeni was expecting.

Needless to say everyone was very excited. My mother responded over the phone with a series of screams and "Oh my God!". Another fun memorable moment.

March flew by with little excitement. We spent a full day of Jeni's Spring Break registering at Babies R Us for the tons of stuff we would need.

April arrived and the days were numbered at Macy's as my last day was to be May 2. To celebrate our "graduation" to new careers, the HR Team at Macy's decided to have a 'Prom'. Basically just another excuse for us to get together, have a good time, and dress nice... Here's our 'Prom' picture. As you can see, Jeni was 'showing' quite a bit already.

May arrived and I was officially unemployed for about 2 weeks. My last day was May 2nd but I was fortunate enough to find that Save-A-Lot was looking for a College Relations person at the same time. I arranged that my first day there would be May 19. Two weeks to relax, sleep in, and get a few chores around the house done... Little did I know...

On Friday, May 16 Jeni called me early on her way to work to say she "didn't feel right". She wasn't sure, but she thought she was having some contractions. Very early for that, I thought, but we need to be careful. She even called my cousin, Gretchen, who has 2 children of her own, to clarify exactly what contractions feel like... Just to be safe, she called her doctor who told her to go to the hospital to get checked. So began what was probably the scariest few days of our lives...

I got to the hospital and to Jeni's room where she was waiting in a hospital bed. The doctor came in a did an evaluation on her and then began the physical examination. Immediately I could tell by the doctor's face and the tone in her voice that something was not right. We were told that Jeni was indeed in preterm labor and she would be getting some drugs to stop the contactions. However, that was not all. The contractions had already started pushing things along and some of the babies' membranes were exposed. This was not only serious, it was threatening to the babies, especially since they were only 21 weeks along. Very few newborns are viable and can survive before 25 weeks...

Around the same time, our older boxer Cassius had started acting differently. He had had numerous health issues from his Cushings Disease to his torn ACL. However, between February and May Cassius seemed to age 6 years. He was sluggish and didn't want to eat. He was vomiting alot and on that Friday refused to even get up off his bed to go outside. With the amount of time I knew I'd be spending at the hospital, I couldn't chance something being seriously wrong with him. So, I loaded him in the car and took him to the vet. He was extremely dehydrated and malnurished from refusing to eat. He stayed the weekend so they could run tests and get him feeling better. Here's a picture of Cassius in mid-April when he started to go downhill...

Later that Saturday, our savior performed a miracle. Now, I'm not being religious or overly dramatic. However, I do refer to Jeni's new doctor, Dr. Michael Paul, as our savior. And he truly did perform a miracle. Jeni had to have what is known as a rescue cerclage. As we were informed later, many doctors would not have performed the procedure on Jeni as it was very risky and had a likelihood of failure. Failure would have most probably meant the loss of our girls. However, Dr. Paul performed the cerclage successfully. Jeni spent the rest of the weekend and most of the rest of May in the hospital. I spent the next few weeks making daily trips back and forth from home to the hospital and off to work... Oh yeah I did start my new job the Monday after Jeni's procedure...

Jeni was released to come home just in time for her first shower. It was thrown by my mom, and Gretchen. Here are some photos...

After his evaluation at the vet, we were told that Cassius would need to be seen by a specialist at Mizzou to diagnose exactly what was wrong with him. He continued to not to want to eat and was dropping weight rapidly. He had gone from weighing around 70 pounds in January down to under 50 pounds by mid-June. Since he's not really an old dog, at only 8 years old, we decided to do whatever we had to, to get him fixed up.

I took Cassius to the Vet school at Mizzou where they performed an CT scan on him. They discovered that Cassius had what is called a macroadenoma. Basically this is a tumor on the pituitary glad. A large tumor in fact. This tumor had grown and was now causing a lot of internal pressure on his brain and causing him lots of discomfort and thus he didn't want to eat. So immediately we had them begin treating him with radiation treatments. The only problem was that these treatments had to be done daily and could only be done at Mizzou. So every Sunday afternoon I drove Cassius up to Mizzou. Then on Friday afternoon, I went back to Mizzou and picked him up so that he could spend the weekend with us at home. At first he was quite pathetic as he was very tired and weak... But that quickly changed. He did however have to have a feeding tube inserted in his neck as he was still not eating on his own.

Here is Cassius with his feeding tube bandaged up.

On July 3, Cassius got to come home for good after completing his radiation treatments. He acted like a new dog! He was eating, playing, and running around the back yard again with Sugar. We even got the sprinkler out for him on a hot day.

July arrived and Jeni had been having some issues. We had been back and forth to the hospital several times because of small contractions starting and stopping. She was on the anti-contraction meds since she was released from the hospital back in May, but from time to time we'd have to make a trip just to be safe. Things were looking good by week 2 of July though.

We went in for a doctor visit and she was examined by one of Dr. Paul's partners. He proudly stated that he thought that she should be fine until week 36 and that they may have to consider taking her off the medications and removing the cerclage at that time... Someone must have forgotten to knock on some wood...

2 days later, Jeni's water broke.

So Jeni had hit 29 weeks and 6 days when her water broke on the morning of July 9. I was getting ready to leave for work and she started to sit up in bed and then told me to hold on. "Something's wrong, I think. I think my water just broke." Well, we furiously packed up our bags and headed up the highway to the hospital. The doctor came in and examined her and confirmed that her water had indeed broken. So they started her on some meds and waited. We waited and the doctors informed us that she could go a couple of weeks without going into labor and things would be fine. So I left the hospital that night as Jeni fell asleep.

Later that evening, Jeni went into full labor...

She called me very early the next morning in tears, scared and begging me to come to the hospital right away. Naturally she was very frightened. She could tell things had changed and it was still very early for our girls. She had made it to 30 week, but that's still very early and they weren't projected to weigh more than 3 pounds...

The doctors came in a few hours later and announced that she would have a c-section as soon as they could get her in. They didn't want to take any chances with waiting. Oh boy...

Well, at 10:49 Olivia Kay was born and at 10:51 Sydney Ann arrived. And the rest, you could say is history...

For the sake of our regular readers, I won't go into detail of the rest of our year because most of it is documented here in earlier posts. However, I thought it would be interesting to post the progression of our girls in the last year...


Just Born



3 Days Old



2 Weeks Old



One Month Old



6 Weeks Old



2 Months Old