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Nearly half a million babies (1 in 10) are born premature in the US each year which is higher than that of most other developed nations. This is the journeys of our first born son, Finnegan, who was born 14 weeks early and weighed only 1 pound 15 ounces at birth. Of our daugher, Korrigan, who was born a healthy 7 pounds, 7 ounces at 37 weeks. And of our second son, MacKeegan, who was also born at 37 weeks at a whopping 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Our continued adventures reminds us daily how good God is.

Wednesday, April 30

We made it!

Well, not to the end goal, of course, but we made it past yesterday...which was 25 weeks and 6 days and the day in my first pregnancy that Finn was born! I know there is nothing magical about that specific point in the pregnancy but just as it did with Korri, it feels so good to be past that milestone. So Finn will officially be the earliest of our children and now we know we can handle whatever may come! I'm glad that Finn will have the title of "earliest born" and not this little one!

Today I had my glucose test for gestational diabetes and OB check. I chose fruit punch for the sugar stuff you have to drink and I have to was WAY better than the stuff I had to drink when pregnant with Korri. So to all you pregnant women or those having future babies...pick the fruit punch flavor! It gave me heartburn but I guess that isn't too out of the norm. I was a little worried that I might have it because my belly has been measuring a little bit (two weeks larger than it should today). And I just got the results gestational diabetes! Yeah.

Since my biweekly ultrasounds are done (well, except for the one this Friday), my OB wants to see me every two weeks. Seems like a lot but probably necessary. She will do an FFN (Fetal Fibronectin) test at each appt. A negative with this test says that you are 99% likely NOT to go into labor over the next two weeks (barring any external factors like trauma or something). If you have a positive, it doesn't mean you will go into labor, as there are many things that can give a false positive but maybe more reason to proceed with caution (like we already aren't...LOL!). My FFN results for today...NEGATIVE! That is great news because I've been having a few symptoms lately (and my cervix was soft but thick, TMI I know) that were be a bit concerning so my doctor is really happy with the results. And more importantly, I shouldn't have the baby before 28 weeks! Why is that significant? That is when the lungs are developed enough for baby to breathe! Yay. Here's to two more uneventful weeks of pregnancy!

Tuesday, April 29

New doctor

On Friday, Finn and I went to his (second) well-child appointment. As you'll recall, after giving him three chances, I HATED the doctor we saw in Buffalo so the doctor at Finn's NICU Follow Up recommended going to Wayzata Children's Clinic in Delano instead. Well, I finally got around to making the new patient/well-child appointment, which was last Friday.

Now I realize it was only the first appointment but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the new clinic and doctor! I looked through the doctors' bios before making the first appointment and picked Dr. Bies because it said she specialized in children with complex medical issues. Now I know Finn doesn't have complex medical issues any longer, but my hope was that she would better understand the journey we've had and know what we (okay, I) would need in the future in a healthcare provider.

I loved this place from the moment we walked in. They greeted Finn by name and engaged him the whole time. I'd pre-filled out the form (of course!) so we were going through them. It was so organized, professional and friendly. By the time we were done with forms, the nurse was waiting to take us back. We actually saw a resident first and he was awesome with Finn. I kind of wished he was staying at this clinic when he was done! But I really liked the doctor, too. I explained why we switched and she said she completely understood and hoped I would always feel comfortable to bring things up and expect an appropriate response from her or her team.

The facility is great and they have four other locations. They said that they have same day sick appointments in Delano but they offer tons of other hours and options at the other locations as well. Basically, we will be able to reach somebody or go in to see somebody almost any time, any day! Finn's feedback would be that they could use some toys in the exam rooms, but they had books and he managed to crawl around and keep himself occupied.

So, I think all of our kids will be going here. If Korri is healthy this year, she won't need to go back in until January but we'll establish baby at this clinic, too. I feel SO much better about our doctor situations (Finn's and mine) now that we are no longer going the clinic we were going to. Hard to have to do that, especially when you are new to an area, but glad we took the time to find better care for our family! Here's to a healthy year for our family...and wonderful care if we aren't!

Before his appointment, we had a mommy/Finn date at the coffee shop. He picked hot chocolate and a chocolate chip cookie which, of course, was bigger than his head. It was so much fun to have one-on-one time with him and he really enjoyed it too.

Monday, April 28

Yet another hurdle!

Today, we had Finn's eye doctor appointment. He has perfect eye sight and NO residual effects of his early birth and the ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity) he had early on in his life. He has 20/25 vision in each eye, which is slightly far sided. But the doctor said that almost all kids with normal vision are far sided at this point in their lives. The best news yet? He doesn't have to be seen by a pediatric Ophthalmologist any more! His vision can be tracked and followed by normal channels, such as through school and his pediatrician!

Honestly, I know it doesn't seem like much, but it feels like an accomplishment to us. I know how lucky we ended up being considering the early start to Finn's life, so when things like this move to the part of his journey that is in the past, it feels so good! Finn truly is a miracle in every sense of the word. Now, if only his listening skills were as keen as his vision! LOL.

Wednesday, April 23

Katie's Caring Bridge

As some of you already know, Jim's best friend's wife, Katie Born, had a massive stroke on Friday. I thought this would be the most effective way for sharing her caring bridge website for those who are interested:

She is doing well, all things considered and should be moving to a rehab center today!

Also if you are so inclined, there has been a meal plan set up that I know the family would greatly appreciate if you could help:

A care/help schedule will be set up in the future, so be on the look out for that!

Tuesday, April 22

A love story

May 16, 2009 Finn and Granny meet for the first time.
March 19, 2011 Korri and Granny meet for the first time.

Written with love by Stacy Thomas...

Hi, my name is Stacy and I am Jim's wife. For those of you who don't know, Jim is Ron's son, who is Gram's son, so is Granny's daughter. So Granny is Jim's great grandma. Today is truly a celebration of an amazing life and I'm going to try to hold it together. But let's face it, I'm pregnant and the chances of that happening are pretty slim...but I'll try. Today I'm here to share with you a love story.

Jim and I have two children, Finnegan who is 5 and Korrigan who is 3 and they are Granny's great-great grandchildren, even though she often told people they were her grandchildren! And you heard me correctly...she was their great-great grandma.

The first love affair began on May 16, 2009 when Granny laid eyes on Finnegan for the first time in Ron's dining room. After Finn's birth, it was a long, difficult journey to arrange their meeting (a journey Granny understood all too well since she was a preemie too), but we managed and it was beautiful. One hundred years his senior, she couldn't get enough of him. With the help of a picture of Gram, we were able to take a picture of FIVE generations...simply unheard of and such a miracle (for both Granny and Finn!). From that day forward, she told anybody who would listen about Finnegan, even if she thought his name was a little funny.

The second love affair began on March 19, 2011, the day Granny met Korri. Now, Granny always adored Finn and talked about him as often as she could, but there was something special between Granny and Korri. They are kindred spirits with spunk and sass to spare. But Korri has a nurturing soul that latched on to Granny immediately. Korri always stood right next to her, hugged her as many times as she could and often climbed up on her lap so Granny could see better whatever it was Korri was showing her. Even though Granny has gone to heaven, I feel strongly that her spirit lives on in many people but especially in Korri.

My kids spend a lot of time in Ortonville during the summers and every single day, they would walk up to "Granny's house" for a visit. I think they thought it was actually granny's house and other people just lived with her. The favorite part was that Finn was allowed to ride his bike through the halls with the caveat that he didn't run into anybody or anything, of course. Everybody there loved seeing him zooming around and he was so happy and excited to be able to go there. I think that is how you can tell how special their relationship with Granny was...because they never dreaded going there nor thought it was weird to be around so many "old" people nor put up a fight to visit. They often asked (or demanded) to go and went happily every single time.

The love between them and Granny was mutual and total. Even to the very last visit two weeks ago. Granny could barely sit up and my kids just got closer then, so she could hear or see what they were doing or showing her. No big deal. When it was time to go, Korri snuggled right in and gave Granny the biggest hug and said, "I hope you feel better soon, Granny." Even though we'd told them that Granny would be going to heaven soon, Korri still had hope that she would get better so they could have more visits.

So, yes, like so many others here today, I'm sad. I'm sad for what we've lost. I'm sad for the great love my kids have lost. I'm sad for the visits we won't get to have any more. I'm sad for all the cooking secrets that Granny took with her. Although this past weekend she did share with Jim the secret to her skinny pancakes...which apparently is using milk right from the cow that you milked yourself. Of course! But I'm also happy. Happy for all the memories, wonderful times and love shared between Granny and so many. But most importantly, I'm happy because Granny's soul is free from earthly constraints and she is enjoying herself in heaven with all those she has missed so dearly. So while this love story may have come to a conclusion in person, I have a feeling it will continue forever through pictures and memories and with Granny, herself watching over her two little "grandkids" that she loved so dearly. Thank you, Granny, for all you've given to and shared with us. You will live forever in our stories, memories, prayers and hearts.

Stronger than a rock

In Loving Memory
Della Marie Knippen
October 11, 1908 - April 14, 2014

Written with love by James Thomas:

Granny was stronger than a rock…

Heaven is a beautiful place. Everyone’s clothes are glowing white with gold trim and everyone is happy. This is how Granny described heaven to me about 20 years ago. She talked of seeing angels and how beautiful they were. She had seen it all and spoke with such realism and authority that one could not doubt the truth of what she saw. She spoke in terms that made it unquestionable that this is exactly how it is.

When we moved across town in 1989, one of the things we were happiest about is how close we’d be to Granny. We would walk there, ride our bikes there and later drive our cars there. After I got my driver’s license, I had to be very careful driving over and where I parked as she did live next to a cop after all. Additionally I always minded my Ps and Qs because she also live next to my 1st grade teacher! In hindsight, if I had asked her opinion about where to park she probably would have said that walking isn't crowded.

We would go visit Granny and she always made us feel important. She loved watching her soap operas but when John and and I went to visit she would turn them off and pay attention to US. I remember during one period of time we thought she was forgetting things (perhaps a mid life crisis at 80) so we figured we could get two visits for the price of one. When we’d visit, Granny always gave us snacks and attention - so we’d visit once and get our snacks and then visit again later that day because she forgot; well she didn't forget she just cared that much and we got more snacks and attention.

Granny always had hidden behind her chair in the living room games that we could play - one was like a wooden pin-ball game; I loved that game. We’d take it out and play it nearly every time we visited - she was always curious as to how well we did. I dream about Granny’s house all the time. Sometimes in my dreams her basement is a haunted house; sometimes I don’t know what’s in the freezer or other times it is always spring and she’s sitting on the back steps watching the garden and yard that she’s tended too.

When John and I would visit during the spring and summer, we would pick flowers for Granny. Tulips, lilacs, whatever was around. She always appreciated it so much and they’d go right into a vase with water. Even if they weren't very pretty.

Granny loved my wife. Gram loved my wife and would have been very happy that I married her. Granny always remembered Stacy and would light up when she knew Stacy was there.

I always wanted Granny’s green car. It was old and cool and I didn't know how it fit into the garage. I still don’t think a car can fit in that garage. Sometimes people would think that the car was driving itself as she guided it down the street while watching the road between the steering wheel and the top of the dash.

Granny wasn't perfect - she cheated at cards. I have to say that I don’t remember any specific cases when I caught her cheating so at least she must have been good at it. Or maybe she was so good at cards that people said she was cheating because they couldn't beat her and she wasn't cheating. Some of my happiest memories were playing royal rummy; we played at Gram’s house which is what I remember most but sometimes at Granny’s too. We’d also play Trivial Pursuit which she didn't like. I know we’d always try to get her to play and she didn't want to but sometimes her answers were funny and sometimes I’d wonder how she knew something that she got right.

Granny always had these toast like crackers that she spread with butter. I dream about those things. To this day I don’t know what they are. They might have just been normal crackers but I always thought they were special and wish I could remember what they were. Granny loved green onions. I don’t know why that’s important but maybe it’s just important because I remember it. Some people say that things are as ridiculous as government cheese; well Granny got some of that cheese and I always enjoyed having it. I think in retrospect that is more of a commentary on the quality of the time spent with her than the quality of the cheese.

When we would go visit Granny at her house, it was usually locked if she wasn't sitting in her porch. But of course the key was simply hidden right by the door and we knew where it was and would let ourselves in. If she wasn't right there we’d eat as much candy as was in her candy dish until she realized she had company.

Her bathroom had a particular and peculiar smell. I think it was probably decorative soap. I think it was probably a horrible smell but to this day I miss that smell because of the memories I associate with it. I don’t know what was always in Granny’s spare bedroom but I know there wasn't room to sleep and it was full. I think it was coupons.

One summer day around the 4th of July Granny was sitting in one of those old rickety lawn chairs on the dock at my parents cabin. She fell off the dock and hit her head on the big rock leaving a small rock size welt on the side of her forehead. Of course she was fine and didn't want anyone to fuss over her - not even DeAnn who indeed did try to fuss over her.

Like the way that she lived her life and loved her family Granny was then and always has been stronger than a rock.

Thursday, April 17

Pointy chin!

Things continue to go well...but I guess that is always the case until they don't! Ha. I had an ultrasound this morning and it went GREAT! Baby posed for lots of cute pictures (something my children must learn really early!). Amniotic fluid level was normal (yay). And most importantly and what I was most nervous cervix remains at 3.5cm...which is unchanged from two weeks ago. This is the first time it hasn't thinned between ultrasounds, so that makes me really happy and relieved. I have my glucose test and routine OB check up in two weeks. We'll see how that goes but I feel much better about things after today's appt.

On Saturday I will be 24 weeks and 3 days. Anybody remember why that day is significant? That is when my water broke with Finn. There is nothing "magical" about that date but it is a milestone I was so happy to get passed with Korri. I'll breath a little easier after then (especially since we'll be in Oville that day...yikes!). The next milestone after that on our radar is 25 weeks and 6 days which is when...I delivered Finn. I just can't even comprehend that all really happened. Crazy. Here's to lots more weeks of a healthy, non-preterm labor pregnancy!

Oh and we decided not to do home care for my weekly progesterone shots. While it would have been very convenient, it would have cost us $700 (the remainder of our deductible) AND $35/week for each visit! Um, let me think...there is NO out of pocket cost to just go in to the office vs $700 (deductible) + $420 (week shot x how many weeks I have left). No brainer, even though I REALLY would have preferred to have a nurse come to my house. Oh, well.

Here are some pics from the ultrasound this morning. As you can tell from the first one, this child has the same pointy/prominent chin that my other kids do! Too funny that you can tell that already. Also, the 3D one was done by HAND by the tech. Amazing. Even though baby is super cute and I can't wait to cuddle, I keep reminding baby to stay put for now!

Wednesday, April 16

Easter Eggs

Grandma and Zander came over to visit yesterday, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to color Easter eggs! They only dyed three each but had fun seeing how dark each color would make the eggs. We had jumbo eggs so the little wrappers that come with them didn't really fit. Oh, well. Note to self to get smaller eggs for next year. After they dried, Grandma and Korri couldn't let the stickers go unused and amply applied on Korri's eggs (maybe some of Zanders, too?). Anyway, it was a fun way to spend a very cold afternoon and it was fun to share with Grandma and Zander, too!

Happy Easter to all of you. We hope yours is filled with family fun and safe travels.

Friday, April 4

Twenty-two weeks and counting

Things are going well so far with this pregnancy (22 weeks as of Wed). As I did when pregnant with Korri, I get more nervous as we near the 24 week mark, which is when my water broke with Finn. I had an ultrasound yesterday and while my cervix length continues to shorten (from 5.5cm to 3.5cm yesterday), my OB is not overly concerned, as it is over 2.5 cm, which is the point where they get concerned. She reiterated to take it "as easy as possible" to try to get it to stabilize. With two small children, I'm not even sure what that means! LOL. They also measured my amniotic fluid, which was over the "normal" levels two weeks ago. She wasn't able to see all four quadrants but the fluid volume was estimated at 22 cm (under 25 cm is "normal") but they still categorize it as "high normal." Of course. So we continue to watch that as well.

Stacey came with me to my appointment yesterday and Kelsie was working in Buffalo, so she came over, too. It was fun to show them the baby and the baby was acting very "cute" for them. The baby was sucking on fingers/thumb (of COURSE we will have another thumb sucker!) and doing pouty lips!
So funny. It was my first ultrasound at my new OB office, which is done at the hospital. It was a very good experience and reinforced how good of a decision it was to switch. We are in the process of setting up home care to administer my progesterone shots, so hopefully that will be in place by next week before my next shot is due. Poor Stacey...she saw the HUGE needle they use. I think she might have thought I was exaggerating about how big the needle was and how painful the shot is. Now she knows! LOL. I scheduled a tour of the Buffalo Hospital Birth Center for early May. Now I'm just praying that we still need the tour by then (i.e. haven't had preterm labor or delivery yet!).