Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Letter

I sent this letter as our Christmas Card this year so nothing new for some of you but it sums up the crazy year that was 2009 for our family, so I'm posting it here.

Dear Family and Friends,
We had such an eventful year in 2009 that we wanted to share the highlights with you.
The first, most exciting event began last year, just before Christmas. We found out we would be adopting twin babies, a boy and girl. Isabel had asked for a baby for Christmas the 2 previous years and we were so excited to finally grant her wish.

The twins were born in Utah, 4 months early, on November 15, 2008. Their early birth classified them as micro-preemies. Chloe came first, weighing in at 1 lb. 6 oz and Liam followed, weighing in at 1 lb. 5.5 oz. We first learned about them when they were about a month old, on December 13, 2008. That was a Saturday. On the following Tuesday we spoke to their birthmother. Wednesday she chose us to adopt the twins. Thursday we bought a minivan. Friday we packed it up and drove off to Utah to go be with our babies.

The twins had to remain in the NICU at IMC hospital in Murray, Utah until February 7, 2009. Jen and Isabel stayed with family in Utah the whole time and Kelly flew back and forth on weekends. Family members watched Isabel while Jen spent time with Chloe and Liam in the hospital. When Kelly was there, he divided his time between Isabel and the babies. His employer and coworkers were wonderfully supportive and flexible during this adventure.

Being born so early and so tiny, the twins battled many health challenges in those first months. We brought them home to the Seattle area at the end of February. Because the babies were so fragile and immune compromised, we kept them at home all winter and spring and limited our contact with the outside world. We were just about ready to get out in society when Swine Flu hit. So, we stayed at home an extra month. We finally started getting out in June. Now that we are back in RSV/Flu season we are staying at home again. You can see pictures and read more about the twins NICU stay at www.jarrettfamilyadventure.blogspot.com.

The twins are healthy and growing. They are miracle babies. Technically they are 1 year old but their adjusted age is 8 months old. Liam had more problems than Chloe, and is behind her developmentally but they are both progressing well and we expect them to catch up and live normal healthy lives. Chloe started out bigger but now she is the tiny one. She weighs a little more than 14 pounds and wears 3-6 month old clothing. She has just started crawling and gets into everything. She has no idea she’s so little. Liam, or “the tank,” as we often call him, has bulked up and now weighs about 18 pounds and wears 6-9 month old clothing. He seems really big to us. He is working on rolling onto his tummy. He would like to skip crawling and go straight to standing and walking but his physical therapist says it’s really important for him to crawl first. She is pleased with his progress and thinks he will crawl soon. Both babies love to sit and play. Chloe likes peek-a-boo and Liam likes patty-cake. They both say Dadada often. Every now and then we hear a mama from one of them.

They definitely have a special “twin” connection. As soon as we brought them home we put them in the same crib. Recently we decided to separate them because Chloe is always crawling and rolling all over Liam and when he’s had it he will wallop or bite her. When we separated them Chloe cried really hard. After a day of naps and bedtime in separate cribs, Mom felt really bad for lonely little Chloe spinning around in her crib all by herself, looking for brother. So we tried putting them back together and Chloe was so happy. She curled over on her side right next to Liam, popped her thumb in her mouth and closed her eyes. Liam looked pretty happy too. We will keep them in the same crib until one of them truly wants to be alone.

Isabel is a happy, helpful, and loving big sister. It has been heartwarming to watch her embrace this new role. The twins adore her. She will tell you that being a big sister is hard work and sometimes she’d like to have all of Mommy and Daddy’s attention but whenever she gets the chance she tells people, “This is my brother and sister. I am their big sister.” We hope to legally finalize the twins’ adoption in December and then seal them to our family eternally in a religious ceremony in January.

The first 6 months with any baby are challenging. The first 6 months with micro-preemie twins are something that can’t be described, only experienced. We have lived to tell about it and are so grateful that Chloe and Liam have joined our family. In the summer we really started to get into a rhythm with our new life. We felt like we could handle our situation and were looking forward to the coming months. Jen was working to establish a home school group for Isabel that would start in the fall and Kelly was planning on a work trip to Tanzania in eastern Africa. I guess someone thought we needed a little more excitement to close out the year.

At the end of September, Jen got sick with severe nausea, dizziness, and balance problems. After going to the ER and being admitted to the hospital, she was diagnosed with a cavernoma in her cerebellum that had to be removed via brain surgery. Jen had surgery on October 1st while Isabel celebrated her 6th birthday. After successful surgery and a 5 week stay in the hospital, Jen came home in mid October. Our family, friends, and Kelly’s coworkers have been unbelievably supportive and helpful. Grandmas came at different times to take care of all the children so Kelly could go to work and Kelly’s coworkers encouraged him to take as much time off as he needed to deal with the situation. As you may have guessed, he did not take that trip to Tanzania. Jen went ahead with launching the homeschool group, thanks to her dedicated friends. Jen hosted a meeting at the hospital prior to her surgery and her friends got the ball rolling. Isabel has enjoyed participating in the group this fall and Jen has even been a couple times.

Jen has been home for almost a month now and is recovering well. She has double vision and wears a patch to help with this. She has also had a lot of balance problems but is getting better and looks less like a drunken pirate every day. She’s heard a lot of pirate jokes, mostly from Kelly, and says, “go ahead, take your best shot. Maybe you’ll outdo him.” She is now able to care for the kids and our home at a basic level and has reengaged with our homeschool community and our church. We are all so grateful that her health is returning and that there will be no permanent consequences. It may take months but the doctors expect all her symptoms to go away and there shouldn’t be any future problems with her brain.

The Christmas Season is our favorite time of year. As we reflect on the gift of our Savior’s birth and feel the warm spirit it brings to the world we are grateful for all our blessings and want to share that feeling with our friends and family. This year, more than ever, we have so much to be grateful for. Thank you for all you have done to help, pray for, and think of us this year.

Love,

The Jarretts
Kelly, Jen, Isabel, Chloe, and Liam


PS Keep in touch! Kelly is on facebook. Jen has a blog at www.mavenhood.blogspot.com. We are both on goodreads.com

A couple updates as of 12/25/09: Jen is now patchless with some double-vision but much improved. She still can't drive but hopefully soon! Liam is crawling and rolling and getting ready to walk. Chloe is crusing along furniture and we expect her to walk soon. The twins went to "school" with Jen and Isabel this month and it was fun. The twins pediatrician encouraged us to start going into public more this winter instead of hiding out at home. So, we are going to church and our homeschool group. Yea!

2 comments:

Michael Family said...

Oh my, I had no idea about Jen! Our thoughts and prayers are (still) with you! Merry Christmas!

Tam~n~Fam said...

Holy Cow Jen!!! I had no clue you were going through all that! Jeesh. Thank goodness you are okay, how scary. I don't know what else to say, kinda in shock. You guys are one amazingly strong family! The kids are all beautiful and I wish you the most boring of New Year's for 2010! :D Tami