Busy as bees!

Hello, everyone! I’m sure my blogs will be much shorter from here on out since my free time has been considerably reduced. But all of my babies are asleep (Kevin included) so I have a few minutes to spare. πŸ™‚

Most of you know the girls came home last week. We were able to practice what things were going to be like for one night at the hospital. Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep. We dutifully awoke every three hours to feed the girls and give them the slew of medicines they still need to take. Plus the day before we were rushed through a whirlwind of instructions on how to operate the oxygen tanks, apnea monitors, and nebulizer the girls were coming home with. Just a side note to you all…if you can possibly avoid using Apria for home medical equipment, please do so. I’m still waiting for equipment that was promised to us almost two weeks after we’ve brought the girls home. They don’t even have the Tendergrip stickers for their faces to keep the cannulas on! I’m a bit disgruntled to say the least.

So now that we are home, things are still very hectic. But we are home! The first few days were pretty rough as we weren’t getting much sleep at all as we got up every three hours to feed the girls and give them their meds. Such is life with a baby, right? And we have it times two! But the girls have been growing nicely, and our home healthcare nurse told us that because they’ve reached the 8 lb. mark we can let them sleep for a little longer at night. They’ve been putting away four to five hour stretches at night! So now we feel much better, although the occasional nap is still a must. πŸ™‚ Plus my mother-in-law has come over quite a bit to help out as we try to get into a rhythm, and both my father-in-law and my dad have brought us meals so I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to get Kevin and myself fed. Most of my “cooking” at this point has been the girls’ bottles. I joked with Kevin’s mom yesterday that I thought I had been done with chemistry in high school! I’m certainly doing a lot of math in my head as I figure out the ratio of milk to formula plus the rice cereal that gets added, not to mention all the meds that have to get mixed and administered. Science was never my best subject but I don’t think I’ve messed anything up yet. πŸ™‚

The girls have adjusted to being home very well. They sleep a lot. We have a swing we regularly put Abigail in since she is the more fussy of the two, and it seems to calm her down very well. Eva has been having some feeding issues, and me being the paranoid mother that I am have called the doctor several times about it. When the girls were still in the NICU they had a ph probe done to determine the severity of their reflux. The gastroenterologist evaluated the data and determined they had borderline reflux (whatever that means) and called it negative. So he took them off the Prevacid, and silly us, we thought the MD after his name meant he knew what he was doing. I’d like to invite him to come clean up all the puke that Eva has dealt us and then have him tell us she doesn’t have reflux. It’s ridiculous. I called our pediatrician and after describing her history and current symptoms she determined it was likely reflux and put her back on the Prevacid. Abigail hasn’t been having the feeding issues (yet) so she’s not on the Prevacid. But Eva has been incredibly fussy during feedings, refusing to eat at times, which scares me to death. Otherwise she’s a very good baby. But she’s still eating and gaining weight so we haven’t had to panic yet. And speaking of weight, Abigail now outweighs Eva. When you see them both side-by-side it isn’t much of surprise; Abigail is decidedly the chunkier baby. Anyway, I currently blame Eva’s feeding problems on the Enfacare formula that the hospital dietitian switched the girls to the day we left the hospital. Again, not the smartest thing these people have done. Ugh.

We miss our nurses very much! But we are so glad to be home. So here are some pictures of our journey home, plus our first few days as full time parents! Ok, I gotta run…time to get the bottles ready again and change some diapers!

A big day for us...leaving the hospital!

Bye bye Morgan; we'll miss you taking care of us!

In the same crib...finally!

All dressed up in our homecoming outfits

Mommy cuddling both girls...still a bit hard with all of the wires and equipment. πŸ™‚

Eva and Daddy watching either hunting or the Lobos smash BYU; I can't remember which.

This is one of my favorites!

Bath time for Miss Eva!

All clean, Mommy!

Abigail still doesn't like baths.

But she's much happier getting dried!

Getting a nap in whenever we can. πŸ™‚

Crib time!

Daddy helped me find my thumb

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The ups and downs of having preemies

So I realized it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted. I want to give a quick update on Eva and Abigail. We are definitely getting closer to the end. In November I never thought we’d see the light at the end of the tunnel, but time has really flown by! And we have learned SO much. I was holding Eva today as she had a little spell, and when spells happen, the monitor alarm goes off and nurses rush over to try to get the baby breathing again. So when Eva spelled today, I heard her nurse, Morgan (who was working with another baby), shout across the room, “Don’t worry, Laurel can take care of it, she knows what to do! She’ll be fine!” Needless to say, I knew what to do, but the whole thing left me amused. Kevin and I are pretty comfortable now silencing alarms, disconnecting wires from the girls so we can hold them, watching their cues for when they are having problems, etc. I never thought I’d see the day that happened, but that day certainly came and went a while ago! πŸ™‚

Since I last wrote, quite a bit has happened. You all know Eva was diagnosed with NEC. Only a few days after she was diagnosed, Abigail decided to copy her sister and also get diagnosed with NEC. Although she didn’t have the nasty spells her sister had. And actually, she never had to be reintubated. However, she had to stop her feeds, too. And since she had to get nutrition and medicine another way, we consented to have her PICC line reinserted. It was either that or have her poked with an IV pretty much every day, which her poor sister had to endure. So after both girls went without food for over a week, they started them from square one on their feeds. Because Eva’s NEC presented first, she began eating first and was at full feeds first. Now, something they do in the NICU to add calories to help the girls gain weight is they add fortifiers to the breast milk. A couple of days after Eva was back at full feeds and on the fortifiers I received a phone call from the NICU that she had a bloody stool in her diaper. Kevin and I went to spend the day with her, and after X-rays, blood work, and careful watching Dr. Nederhoff thought that the NEC had returned. Her feeds were stopped and her meds were started again. We were frustrated. Other than the bloody stool she was acting like she was fine. She wasn’t having any spells; in fact, she kept pulling out her nasal cannula and her oxygen levels were STILL at 100%! Then that night Liz reminded us that her first bout of NEC presented a few days after she started the fortifiers. Coincidence? Probably not. The next morning her X-ray and blood work came back normal. So after some discussion and brainstorming the doctor and nurses suspected the fortifiers were the guilty culprit all along. RELIEF! Eva is now on a special formula called Neocate that is supposed to be easy on the tummy. She will be on that for a couple of weeks and then will slowly transition back to the breast milk. Abigail was never put back on the fortifiers and guess what? No NEC. So now the next hurdle we are dealing with is their feedings. They are learning how to bottle feed, and it’s a bit rough for them since they both have fairly bad reflux. It causes them to gag and retch, which in turn causes them to spell. But Kevin and I have gotten pretty good at watching them and figuring out if they are going to start to spell. It also helps that they are on Prevacid to minimize that. We are trying to learn to watch their cues and not to depend on the monitor to tell us what’s going on. We could possibly go home on apnea monitors, which would let us know when they aren’t breathing. We will either do that or something similar, just to be on the safe side.

It’s pretty awesome to see the girls developing. Now that they are getting bigger and are becoming chubby little babies, they really are starting to look identical! The nurses tell us that it’s pretty odd to have twins deal with the same exact problems (like the NEC) but I think it’s just a good indication of how special our girls are. πŸ™‚

I’m so blown away by all the support we’ve gotten from everyone. I can’t tell you how many people we have heard from who have told us stories about their own preemies who have turned out just fine. So I want to (in turn) show some support back, and I think you all will be amazed at God’s provision for even our own current situation through the lives and stories of others. So without further ado, let me begin the list of other amazing stories.

1. http://menicucci.blogspot.com
This is my sister-in-law’s blog. I think I briefly mentioned before that Eva and Abigail are not the first set of twins in our family. Kevin’s brother, Brian, has fraternal twins (no, twins do NOT run in the family; to my knowledge neither Gina nor I are genetically predisposed to twins and twins only “run in the family” through the mothers.) She has been really wonderful on helping me figure out what life with twins is really like, including pregnancy. When I first found out about the girls I texted her right away, and she asked if they had TTTS, and that was even before we talked to the perinatologist. And sure enough, they did. My nieces and nephews are pretty adorable, if I do say so myself. πŸ™‚ It’s also going to be fun growing up so close to cousins!

2. http://andersonstwins.blogspot.com
I’ve known Shawnah ever since 5th grade when we both went to Hope. She and her husband, TJ, had twin girls, Kandis and Kenedi, who were born prematurely at 24 weeks. They went through many of the things we are dealing with now, and they have extended a hand of support to us to be an encouragement. I’ve gone to her about things because she knows that having twins adds its complexities, and having preemies takes it to a whole new level. I remember looking at pictures of those girls thinking how hard it must be to see your kids like that, small and hooked up to machines. But truthfully, you just see your kid. The wires and tubes: you get used to them. And for Shawnah and TJ, they now have two healthy, beautiful girls (whom we got to meet a few days ago, and they are VERY cute.) You can go to her blog to read about their amazing journey.

3. http://thelopezblog.com
I also went to Hope with Sherry (and for a few years, Bryan.) If it wasn’t enough that they already had three kids of their own, they decided to adopt identical triplet boys. How cool is that! The boys were born at 24 weeks and had a long stay in the NICU. In a graduating class of 78 people, three of us have multiples. Quite the statistic! And if that doesn’t amaze you, then how about this: one of the nurses, Liz, who worked so much with those boys is now the primary nurse at night for Eva and Abigail. And Liz also happens to be married to Kelly, who also graduated from Hope with us. Coincidence? I think not. Anyway, the Lopez family just found out that one of the boys might be Deaf, so while they wait to see if something can be done they are learning sign language. As an ASL interpreter I think it’s pretty cool they are learning; having worked with Deaf kids it’s all too common to have them isolated since almost no one in their families will bother to learn how to communicate with them. I won’t speculate on reasons that those families don’t learn ASL. But language development is so crucial for this boy right now, and the Lopez family is definitely being proactive about it. Their adoption story is inspiring, not to mention how God preserved the lives of all three of those boys. It was so good, I just have to go back and read it again!

4. http://tttsprayers.blogspot.com
I don’t know these people, but this is a blog I found when I was still pregnant and concerned about the girls. This family had a more severe TTTS pregnancy that did require the laserscopic ablation surgery. They are still dealing with some things as a result of the TTTS even months later, but their story of faith in the midst of such frightening circumstances is pretty encouraging. At least it was to me when I was wondering if my girls would even make it.

5. http://guerragang.blogspot.com
I met Jordan when I became a YoungLife leader right after high school. She and her husband, Jon, are in charge of WyldLife in Sedona, Arizona. I give them so much credit for working with middle schoolers. I’ve done it before, and middle schoolers have a gift for trying one’s patience. πŸ™‚ I’ve also long been an admirer (and slightly jealous) of Jordan’s knack for creativity when it comes to crafts. She recently made hats for the girls, and runs her own business, River Jordan Creations. If you are looking for some really cute hats or headbands, head on over to riverjordancreations.blogspot.com. I can’t wait to see my own girls in those hats!

6. http://sabepashubbo.wordpress.com
This is my brother, Adam’s blog. Adam and his wife, Sarah, gave birth to my niece, Hosanna, last year. And they have been very excited about cousins for Anna. Adam has a gift as an apologist. When he has in high school, he took an interest in the Left Behind series and wrote a 40-page paper on eschatology (the study of the end times) FOR THE FUN OF IT. But it’s pretty hard to argue with him about Christian doctrine (not that I would anyway) and so you might find yourself enlightened, informed, impressed or just curious to seek out more after reading his blog. I may be slightly partial on this one, but see for yourself if you don’t believe me.

You can find links to all of these blogs on the right side of this page under the blogroll, as well as some others. Do you have a blog that you want to share with others? Let me know and I’ll post it here, too. Also, I keep forgetting to tell you all that you are welcome to ask me any questions you’d like. I promise to do my best to answer them, and I’m usually pretty good about it. The whole purpose of this blog is to answer everyone’s questions and to simplify all of the information I’m getting from the NICU. There have been more conditions throughout the pregnancy and NICU stay than I ever thought I’d encounter that it can be hard knowing what exactly is going on. I hope this blog is helping to clear some of that stuff up. πŸ™‚ So if you have a question just leave a comment here and I’ll get back to you!

Out with the Old, In with the New

Happy new year, everyone! This year has certainly been an eventful one for us. While listening to the radio the other day, the commentator was reminding listeners to reflect on a “God moment” this year. I told Kevin that this whole year has been a “God moment” for us! We have seen amazing healing for the girls as well as a TON of restored relationships. God has supplied our needs by bringing people into our lives, and my prayer is that we can be a blessing to them as they have been a blessing to us. I don’t want to discredit the people who have been in our lives already. You all have played a major part in keeping us sane as we deal with this hiccup that will be a blip in a very long lifetime for our family.

So the girls were doing pretty well until this week. We were so excited by seeing how well Eva was developing. She was starting to practice latching on for feeds, and she even practiced eating from a bottle. And then on Wednesday everything changed. I got a call that morning that she was having spells one right after the other, and it was so unexpected that they had to take some drastic measures. So after a few weeks of being on a nasal cannula she is now reintubated. We went to see her that night, and my little girl definitely looked bad. He tummy was so swollen, even to her back, and she wasn’t breathing at all on her own. Dr. Nederhoff was there, and he told us that after some x-rays of her belly they thought she had necrotizing enterocolitis, the same condition they thought Abigail had a few weeks ago. If you look it up online it seems pretty grim. Basically (from my understanding) blood (and therefore oxygen) isn’t getting to the bowel walls, so the tissue can be compromised and even die. When it dies, her bowel can perforate and she would need surgery. I think it’s the same thing the Duggar baby had to deal with. They stopped Eva’s feedings, put her on antibiotics, and are basically going to give her bowels a week to rest. The doctor explained that if they catch NEC in time it can resolve itself before it gets to the point where she needs surgery. Over the past couple of days she has been resting quite a bit, and she is definitely improving. Β Her tummy is soft and pink, and she’s not acting like she’s sick. And she is also doing some breathing on her own, even though she is still intubated. She’s being weaned from that so that she can be put back onto the nasal cannula. So while we were looking forward to getting her home soon, this little setback means it may be a little while longer before she gets home. It’s slightly amusing and touching, because we were informed that Dr. Nederhoff lost sleep over trying to figure out Eva’s situation. I don’t know what it is about our family that causes doctors to lose sleep, but we are moved to know that they care and God is using them to preserve the girls.

Abigail is still having a tougher time. She is extubated now, which is a huge relief for us. And until the last couple of days it looked like she was on track just like Eva. But for some reason she is starting to have some pretty nasty spells. I was holding her a couple of days ago as she was sleeping, and she decided to stop breathing. Not a huge surprise; it’s happened before. If she doesn’t self-resolve and bring her heart rate and/or oxygen levels up within a few seconds, she then gets some light stimulation (back rubs, head rubs) to remind her to wake up and do some breathing. Well, recently she has been spelling, and her face and lips turn blue, and the stimulation hasn’t been working. I take that back. It works, but it takes A LOT of stimulation to get her going, more stimulation than it should. The first time it happened my heart almost stopped. Thank goodness our nurse, Morgan, was there to keep me calm and to take charge of the situation. The nurses are noticing a trend that it seems to happen around meal time, so they suspect it might be acid reflux. She gets uncomfortable, has some pain, and doesn’t know how to handle it, so she stops breathing. Reflux is a common thing for preemies, and it doesn’t help that gastrointestinal issues do run in the family. But hopefully she will outgrow it. It just doesn’t do Mommy’s heart any good to see her turn purple like she does.

Lots of people have been asking me if the NICU has given us a date as to when they can come home. The best guess is sometime around their original due date, February 10th. They have to be able to do several things before they can be discharged. They have to go without spells for 5 days straight. They have to be able to feed, and that can be tough for them to learn! They have to eat and breathe in a rhythm. Although Eva was doing a pretty good job on that. Abigail hasn’t had the chance to practice yet. And they have to gain weight pretty steadily. Again, they were doing fairly well on that until they had their feedings stopped to deal with the other issues they are experiencing now. They will probably go home on oxygen, and while Kevin isn’t thrilled with the idea, I’m actually glad. I don’t know if it will reduce the risk of SIDS, but I imagine it would. I know I’m going to be nervous to even sleep when they come home. We have fought so hard for their survival, Mommy isn’t going to lose them as they sleep in their crib!

This whole journey has certainly been one where Kevin and I have learned so much, and we have had to definitely come together as a team and do what’s best for our girls. I’m starting to realize that things aren’t going to be typical for our family for the next couple of years. I guess I assumed that when the girls hit 40 weeks that they would be like a normal newborn, and all they would have to do is some catching up developmentally. But them not being in the womb has really left their immune systems pretty compromised, and I’m only beginning to understand how much so. I didn’t realize how much we would have to limit contact. I was able to reach out to my high school friend who had preemie twins to find a pediatrician who is familiar with preemies and what they need. It’s going to be a different path that our family has to travel. Thank goodness we do have some resources! It was so great talking to Kevin’s aunt, who used to be a nurse in the NICU and who could advise us on a few things. Plus we have awesome primary nurses who fill us in on every little thing that is going on with the girls. I can’t express how blessed we are to have them taking care of the girls.

Please keep Eva and Abigail in your prayers. Just seeing pictures of them from when they were first born and looking at recent ones is just a huge eye opener. Kevin jokes that they don’t look like aliens now; they actually look like babies! We are winning all of the small victories that are getting us closer to bringing two precious daughters home. πŸ™‚

In closing, I thought I’d add some pictures of the girls. Plus, here is a YouTube video about what it’s like to be a mother of twins and the kind of questions I expect I will get asked. Some of you have seen this already, but it’s pretty amusing. Although it doesn’t totally apply to me because my girls ARE identical. Enjoy!

 

Eva spending some time with me

I swear they did this on their own

 

A smile from Abigail after her bath

Another smile from Abigail

Daddy's hands calming Abigail down

Me feeding Eva...gotta learn sometime!

Daddy feeding Eva

Cute Miss Eva!

She really doesn't like her baths much

An awesome Christmas present: our first family photo!

Cozy together, like they were in the womb

Moving in the right direction!

Alright, time for another blog post. I don’t think this one will be too long since things haven’t been traumatic for us, at least as far as the girls are concerned. They would have been 31 weeks today, and they are getting so big! It’s such a joy to see their little personalities developing. I can’t wait to see who they LOOK more like; I’m hoping it’s me because they certainly ACT more like Kevin. Last night I was holding Eva, and even though she was asleep she kept trying to kick her feet out of the blanket. Her sister does this all the time in her isolette. There’s still lots of time to see who they become. πŸ™‚

They are still progressing wonderfully. Both girls now have their PICC lines removed. In the last post I mentioned that the PICC line was one place they are prone to getting infections. But thankfully they are now getting enough nutrition from breast milk that is fortified with extra calories that they don’t need any nutrition supplemented through their PICC lines. So out they came, and Mom and Dad are very relieved about this! Also, Eva is now completely extubated and only relies on getting oxygen through a nasal cannula, the same type of oxygen tubes that adults use when they are on oxygen. All of these things point to incredible development on her part. Of course, we give all the credit to God for preserving her life and giving her strength. We had a care conference with one of the girls’ doctors this week, and he was enthusiastic about how well they are doing. In theory, they could go home as early as 36 weeks gestation, which is January 14th. Holy cow! Time has flown and they could be home very very soon. It is likely that we won’t bring home both of them at the same time, and since Eva seems to be doing better we suspect we will bring her home first. She is 2 pounds 11 ounces as of last night. Having said all of that I should give a little update on Abigail as well. She isn’t doing quite as well as her sister; she is still intubated at this point. They are trying to wean down her vent settings to see how well she does with less support, and they are slowly weaning since they want to be cautious and not cause any setbacks. Earlier this week I was holding her on my chest when she decided to extubate herself AGAIN. Actually, she had slowly been working her tube out all day and wasn’t giving any indication that she was having problems. A respiratory tech happened to be walking by and noticed that the breathing sounded a little odd, and so they got to work on her right away. It was a little intense since they did some of the work while she was still on my chest; they had to hand pump a little oxygen bag to get her some air, and her little fingers turned blue. It was a little scary but I wasn’t too concerned since she had tolerated the discomfort for so long, not to mention that the NICU staff has been so competent that I have full confidence in their abilities to act quickly. So all of that being said, if they can wean her rate (how many breaths the machine has to “give” her in a minute) down to 20 they will move her to a CPAP. Her rate is at 24 right now. There are several different types of CPAP, so we aren’t sure which one they will try first. It is fairly obvious that she doesn’t like being intubated, though, so we are hoping once she is moved to the CPAP she will do better on that. This actually happened with Eva, too. She was having more spells until they extubated her, and now she’s doing great. So maybe sister will follow suit. πŸ™‚ They both are doing fairly well digesting their food. Sometimes they have some large residuals (leftovers,) but in general their bellies are now doing much better. So the main goal now is to get bigger, not to mention they get to start practicing feeding very soon. They will have their first eye checks next week to scan for something called retinopathy. Back in the day NICU doctors used to expose preemies to lots of oxygen, and now they know that doing this causes blindness. Our doctor told us Stevie Wonder was a preemie. πŸ™‚ But now they have laser surgery that can correct any retinopathy, so this shouldn’t be a problem for the girls. Please keep lifting them up in your prayers. Some issues can strike lightening quick, but in general the doctor thinks that the danger of most major complications has passed. Really, the most stressful part for us is getting everything done and ready for them to come home. The house is still a bit of a mess, so there’re still lots to be done. We have some lovely friends who had twins in the NICU last year lend us A TON of clothes, so we are set on that. It’s also nice being able to talk to them about some of the things we are going through. I know every parent of a newborn is exhausted, and we are not excluded from that. But we are definitely becoming quite the experts there!

It has certainly been a trying month for us. My family could sure use prayers. It all started with me being in the hospital and all of my issues. Then we had to deal with the girls being there. Shortly after that my brother had to have his gall bladder removed. The surgery itself wasn’t precarious, but the events leading up to it had my family in turmoil. And lastly, my Uncle Frank quickly deteriorated in the span of a month and passed away a little over a week ago. Thankfully his actual passing was quick and peaceful, so we could be comforted about that. But it’s hard to lose a close member of the family, so all of these medical issues have certainly left my family exhausted. Only God could have brought us through, and He certainly did. I’m going to ask for prayer especially for my grandparents. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for them to lose their son.

I’m so glad you all love our girls! Here are some pictures of them. This is Eva in a handmade outfit that I just love. Abigail is just 20 grams away from being able to wear clothes, and when she can she has a handmade outfit, too! I just want to take this opportunity to tell you all not to take the little things for granted. For us every day there is a small battle to be fought and won: will they digest their food, will they gain weight, will they remember to breathe on their own. Getting to dress them for the first time; what a treat! And I think it’s something that parents who don’t have babies in the NICU don’t necessarily recognize as a treat. So cherish those things, because we certainly do!

Eva in her homemade dress!

Sucking away on her pacifier

What are you looking at, huh?

Eva loving her "head massage" as Mommy gives her first bath

So sleepy!

She did NOT like this part of her bath

Eva gives her first smile for the camera...it must have been a good dream!

Two steps forward then one step back

Hey, everyone. I’m posting another blog because I’m hearing through the grapevine that people want updates. So I’m posting them here so my poor mother and mother -in-law don’t have to give out the same info over and over and over. I know it’s exhausting for me to relay the same information time and time again; so what better way to get it all done with one fell swoop and answer everyone’s questions?

This week has been a somewhat hard week. A few days ago I got a phone call from one of the NICU doctors. He said they were all concerned about Abigail, because she was requiring more and more support to keep from having “spells,” which is basically when either her oxygen or her heart rate drops (their brains are still immature enough that they “forget” to breathe sometimes, especially when they are asleep. Eva especially seems to struggle with this, and the machine has to do that job for them.) He stated that this was an indication that something else was happening. So after doing some tests, they determined that she had pneumonia. It’s a little different than what we think pneumonia is. Because the girls need support for breathing, they have to have a tube run down their tracheae. These tubes can harbor moisture, and is a prime location for bacteria to set up residence. I wasn’t too comfortable hearing this, but the doctor (and later that night their nurse, Liz) assured me that infection is very common in the NICU. He prescribed a 7-day treatment of antibiotics to take care of it before it got bad, and it seems to be doing the trick. So we can tick that one off the list. Then the next day when I went to visit the nurse told me that a respiratory tech-in-training had left one of the doors to Abigail’s isolette open, which made the heater kick in and raise not only the temperature of her isolette but also her temperature. That one did irritate me. I understand things are going to be hard for my girls for a while, so I don’t need any careless mistakes making it worse. I did complain to the doctor, and thank goodness her nurse that day, Nicole, caught the tech’s mistake. When the tech came back to do some stuff I made Kevin watch her to make sure she didn’t do anything else to harm my baby while I went to go pump. Well, later that evening, I got ANOTHER phone call from the doctor to inform me that Abigail had extubated herself: literally, she yanked the tube going into her trachea out of her mouth and it slipped into her esophagus. It wasn’t an emergency, but that girl is definitely Kevin’s daughter. Anyway, as a result it blew some air in her tummy, so they had to put a tube in her belly to suction the air out. That also meant they stopped her feeds. It means that in the past few days she has lost a little weight and is down to 1 pound 9 ounces (down from 1 pound 12 ounces.) But on the flip side, her blood sugars have stabilized, and that has been an Achilles’ heel for her in the past. Plus the traumatic events of that day caused her to have huge poop, which is something both girls have a problem with. Then yesterday I found out that she would get an x-ray today to examine her belly. I’ts quite large (on Eva, too) and Morgan told me the doctors were suspecting something called pneumatosis. I wikipedia-ed it, and it indicates something far more serious called necrotizing enterocolitis, which is basically when intestinal tissue dies off. It sounded yucky and scary, but after the x-ray it came back negative, thank goodness. It looks like things are settling down for her now, and she will restart her feeds tomorrow. She is a very active little girl, opening her eyes every time her daddy and I visit. She knows our voices. πŸ™‚ Activity is good since it means she’s not sickly.

Now it’s Eva’s turn to shine. Like I previously said, she also has a large belly but they are keeping their eyes on it. She is now at a scant 1025 grams (2 pounds 4 ounces.) I kid, of course. She is growing just beautifully. Now that she is over 1 kg we can start dressing her in real clothes! Grandma has already bought the girls outfits, and I can’t wait to dress her. I’m fighting a fever now, and when there is any indication of sickness we are not allowed to go down. Most of the babies in the NICU have no immune system, and I don’t want to possibly infect any of the babies there, let alone the girls. So once I’m all better I’ll go down and dress her and get some great pictures. πŸ™‚ She also had a huge poop yesterday (finally! Who’d have thought poop could be so exciting?) and is doing so well on her vent settings that she will most likely get extubated in a couple of days! This is HUGE. She will have to wear a CPAP, those nice little oxygen tubes that stay in the nose. She didn’t like those last time, so pray she likes them better this time, because her risk of infection goes down if she’s on the CPAP. Also, she’s going to start taking some things orally instead of intravenously, which is also a big deal. Once she’s stable on oral intakes, her PIC line can come out, which is also a place that infections fester. If she can get both of those removed, it greatly increases her chances that she won’t get an infection. Abigail still has some catching up to do, but she will get there.

So keep praying for the girls! They are moving along quite nicely, and having both of them have a good day today really lifted my spirits. Conversely, my family could use some prayer for my Uncle Frank. He went into the hospital the day after the girls were born, and although it was just for a checkup it has developed into something significantly worse. He was diagnosed with cirrhosis (not due to alcohol) and had extremely high levels of ammonia in his system. The medical staff has been able to get most of it out of his system, but the fact that he is still unresponsive makes them suspect something else like a major stroke has occurred. A healing would be wonderful, but we don’t know what will happen. In the weeks leading up to my hospital stay he called me several times to chat, which was very unlike him. I just pray God’s will be done; that He will be glorified, but especially that my uncle found peace in a saving relationship. We will hopefully know more about his status tomorrow.

So that’s it! Thanks for your thoughts and prayers for the girls. I’m hoping everyone will get to see them after the several months of required isolation we will have to deal with when we get them home. I’m sure they can’t wait to meet all of you! Love you all. Hugs, too.

Another blog on the misses!

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last updated everyone on how the girls were doing. So I’ll do this periodically until they come home, and then when I get the opportunity to update everyone on their antics I certainly will. πŸ™‚ For those of you who don’t have experience with the NICU I’ll try to expand on what information you may already have. It’s not as critical as I had been led to believe. Yes, the girls have good days and they have not-so-good days. But nothing that has given us any real cause for alarm. Thankfully, they seem to switch when they have their problems; i.e. Abigail has a problematic day and Eva has a smooth day, and vice versa.

What’s amusing for us is the nurses and doctors in the NICU treat some things as more grim than they turn out to be. I wrote on the last post about Eva’s brain hemorrhage scare. We got pulled aside a couple of days ago by the nurse practitioner that they needed to x-ray Eva’s belly because they were very concerned that its large size was an indication that there was a hole in her intestines and air was escaping into her body. Needless to say, this is a very bad thing. But Kevin and I didn’t worry this time; we are confident God is doing a great work through our girls still. So we sat and waited for the results of the x-ray; it was nothing but gas. The same exact thing happened to Abigail today. Also, I was told when I arrived at the hospital this morning that both girls had a heart murmur that they had heard, and they both were going to get echocardiograms to confirm that they both had PDA. So again, I waited for what I was sure would turn out to be nothing. And once again, God didn’t fail me. Both girls still have no PDA. So my advice to anyone who ends up having a baby in the NICU is to listen to what they have to say, but take it with a grain of salt. They are very knowledgeable, so I feel good about the girls being there. And we do have something going for us: the promise that God is taking care of our girls. Plus, we know that any freaking out on our part can’t be good for the girls.

And both of them are starting to get so big! As of yesterday Eva was back to her birth weight: 1 lb. 12 oz. Abigail has already surpassed her birth weight and is at 1 lb. 9 oz. Still very small when compared to a normal baby, but they are bigger than when they were born. They would have been 28 weeks yesterday. And both of them have opened their eyes! We love spending time with them and holding them. And God answered another prayer: they have a primary nurse during the day and one at night! Thank you, Morgan and Liz! God totally had His hand on that one. πŸ™‚

Keep praying for the girls. These next few months will be hard. Driving to the hospital back and forth is exhausting, not to mention the pumping I have to do several times a day. But we are very blessed with our girls. Thank you everyone for your prayers, love, and support!

How the girls are doing

Just a quick update to let you all know how the girls are doing. We know so many of you have lifted them and us up in prayer, and we can’t tell you how much we appreciate it. God has done amazing works through our daughters already, and I’m blown away by how many people have invested in them, whether it be doctors, nurses, family, friends, friends of friends, etc. So here’s the latest: both girls are doing just great. Honestly, both Kevin and I thought that their lives would be hanging in the balance on a daily basis, and that’s just not the case. That’s not to say something bad couldn’t happen; it certainly could. But technology and medicine have advanced so greatly that really the hardest battle we are having to fight is patience. After holding both of my daughters for the first time I was ready to take them home. But three months is a blip in the grand scheme of things, so we will just have to take our lesson as it comes. πŸ™‚

So far we have had really only one scare. A few days ago one of the doctors from the NICU sat down with us and told us the platelet count for Eva had dropped by half, and she wasn’t sure why. Her top suspicion was that Eva was experiencing a brain hemorrhage, and if this was the case there was nothing that could be done. They would ultrasound her head in the morning to get an answer. We were shaken, and we went back up to our hospital room to pray and try to get some sleep, but it was difficult. I had to go over all the things that God had already promised us many times and just trust that whatever the case may be that He was in control and knew best. We woke up early the next morning and went down to see Eva, and they told us that the ultrasound revealed no bleeding. Praise God! They thought that maybe her count ended up being low due to drawing too much blood for tests. Eva had to get a blood transfusion to restore her blood count level and now she is doing fine. She has a slight heart murmur (called PDA) that is getting treated with medicine, and if it doesn’t resolve then she may need surgery, but it’s very safe and it looks like it is in fact resolving. Abigail, of course, is passing through with flying colors. Everyone is amazed with how well she is doing because she is noticeably smaller than her sister. One would think she would have more problems being the smaller girl but she is just doing great. Holding both of them was such a treat, and I can’t wait until we can bring them home.

Another great thing that God has done with the birth of these girls has been the restoration of relationships. I won’t go into too much detail, but people are coming back into our lives that we haven’t seen in YEARS, as well as some other things that have occurred. It’s been wonderful, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us next! Thank you again everyone for your thoughts and prayers. I can’t tell you how much they mean to both Kevin and I.

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