Thursday, February 26, 2009

George meets the bathtub

Oh my goodness! There are no words! Almost :)

George got a few tub baths this week... I'm not sure he knew what to think of them, but he was so darn cute! Plus, he must have loved it because he didn't cry :) Instead he just looked at us like we were nuts... I can't blame him for that! Some of the best bath photos so far...

All warm and cuddly - why is everyone looking at me like that?
What's about to happen?

Time to get clean!

For this bath, we added bubbles - yea!

This is what happens when you are so patient with all of this craziness :)

I think I'm cold...

A good hug from mom - and a dry, warm blanket :)
*Samuel and Olivia are both doing really well! A great last few days for everyone!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Samuel's Surgery

(After surgery with mom and dad - a little tired, but lookin' good!)

What a day! Samuel did a GREAT job!!

Speaking of roller coaster rides – whew! The last 24 hours has been some of our lowest lows and our highest highs. There were scared/nervous/anxious tears before the surgery… and joyful/relieved/happy tears when the surgeon told us the procedure was a success! We are emotionally exhausted… and very happy :)

Samuel had his heart procedure done today at 1:30pm… they successfully closed his PDA – a ductus in his heart. Generally the ductus closes when babies take their first breath of air, but not always… this can happen in full-term babies, but usually it’s in preemies. The first treatments are meds… three doses that can be given in twice. (Olivia’s ductus was also open, but it closed after the first three doses of the meds.) Samuel’s ductus did not respond to the meds, so the surgery was the next step.

The ductus had to be closed… from what I understand, when it’s open the blood still partially circulates to the lungs (like it does during pregnancy), which not only makes it harder for the lungs to function, but also takes away from the blood flow to the rest of the body. Sometimes a small ductus will be left alone to close on its own, but Samuel’s needed to be fixed up.

Here’s the amazing part – they put a little metal clip on the ductus! CRAZY! Samuel has gotten bigger – a little more than 2 pounds now – but I simply can’t imagine doing surgery on such a little kiddo! The way it was explained to me is that the clip is about the size of one of the legs of a regular size staple. One of the other amazing parts – the texture of the ductus is that of rice paper, or thick mucus (ew!), and one of the big risks during the surgery is tearing the ductus. Other risks for Samuel were his lungs – they make the incision on his side (nope, it’s not arthroscopic) and have to move the lungs a bit to get to the ductus, and because his lungs are already weak, this was a concern.

SAMUEL DID FANTASTIC! The clip went well (the xray is amazing to look at!) – his lungs held up – and his little body seems to have handled it well. Next steps – please keep the positive vibes coming our way – the next few days are also a big deal as he comes off the morphine (he was under general anesthetic for the procedure) and we see how his body responds. Initial reports from the surgeon were good… as soon as they put the clip on the ductus, Samuel’s blood pressure went up – meaning the blood flow was successfully redirected from his lungs to the rest of his body. He was very encouraged by this – so we are too :) Thank you so much to everyone who sent up a prayer for our little man - today was a good day!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Roller Coaster

We hear having babies in the NNICU compared to the term “roller coaster ride” a lot… and I’ve decided that theme parks got it right! You have to wait in line for an hour, and the ride is only a few minutes… then they make you wait in line again before riding again. I always hated that – both the waiting in line and that the ride was so short! Now, I’m starting to understand :) ha ha!

Actually, I wouldn’t change my “roller coaster ride” for the world :) But, it has certainly been crazy. I originally said I wouldn’t write about a lot of medical mumbo jumbo, but I think I’ve actually gone too far in the other direction… and, I’ve had a lot of questions about how the babies are really doing – asking for details. So, I’m going to try my best to write an update... keep in mind, I am by no means a nurse or doctor!

The biggest problem with writing about how the babies are doing is that it could be totally different by the time I’m finished posting. I’m guessing this is where the term “roller coaster ride” comes in :) The twists and turns are often and most of the time they catch you off guard. So, I’ll try to give you an idea of the last few weeks and where we are as of today…

A few terms that you’ll see on each one…
- Lungs – goes from the ventilator (breathes for you), to C-Pap, to nasal cannula, to breathing on your own.
- Heart – the PDA is a heart ductus. Usually it closes when infants take their first breath, but for many preemies it stays, or comes open. Steps to close it include 3 doses of meds that can be given twice – after that it’s a surgical procedure to close the ductus. When the babies are taking these meds, they have to stop feeds for 36 hours.
- Septic workup – includes drawing blood and a spinal tap – they’re done to rule out different infections and conditions.
- Feeds – they are getting breast milk, but it is given through a feeding tube – generally every 3 hours.
- PIC line – besides getting feeds, the PIC line delivers nutrition like electrolytes. The bad part is that it can be a major source of infection, so the goal is to get up on feeds in order to take the PIC line out.

Olivia – has improved every day this week, but continues to come up with new ways to get attention :)
Up close and personal... beautiful girl!
Below - just a cool shot :) Check out her hand, hanging on!
- Lungs - She went off the ventilator within a few days of being born – yea! Since then, she has gone back and forth between needing C-Pap and a nasal cannula… she tried breathing unaided for a short time, but it didn’t go so well. For the second time, she is back down to the nasal cannula, and has been doing really well!
- Brain – from the beginning she has been clear – no bleeds! Yea!
- Heart – on her original echo, she had an open ductus. It was followed by one round of three doses of meds, and the ductus closed!
- Stomach – from the beginning she was great! But, since she had to stop getting feeds while on the heart meds – she’s had trouble. She wasn’t able to digest even 1 milliliter every 6 hours. So, we tried lots of things – but then we went on continuous feeds and it seemed to work… but not great. She then had a second feeding tube, a TP tube, which lets the food bypass the stomach and go straight to the intestines, and this worked even better! Now she’s back to the normal feeding tube, still on the continuous feeds, and doing really well! (I think she gets the continuous feeds from her mom :) It’s kind of like grazing all day instead of a few big meals!)
- Eyes – she had some eye gunk that was cultured, and the results just came back that she has a staff infection (MRSA) in her eye… the great part is that the rest of her body does not have it! The doctors don’t sound too concerned – she has been on eye drops for a few days now, so that will be continued. The sad part is that she has to be in isolation for a while until it clears up. Her little incubator is off on it’s own, partitioned off, and we have to wear sterile hospital gear when we see her… it looks like the stuff DB had to wear when he came for the c-section.
- Other – she’s had a few septic work-ups, the most recent for a possible blood infection. All have come back negative!! Also, her PIC line is out!
- Prayer requests – that her eyes heal and she continues to tolerate her feeds.

Samuel – is doing okay, but certainly has the most to overcome…

He shows his sense of humor with that tongue sticking out!

Below - our precious little man sleeps :)

- Lungs – this is Samuel’s biggest struggle. He went off the ventilator fairly soon after birth, but had to go back on within days. He is still on it – he is now on the JET ventilator, it is similar in that it breathes for the baby, but it is different because it delivers the breaths in lots of little tiny puffs (for his little tiny lungs) instead of big ones. His lung xrays still don’t look good – they are very hazy - and the doctors are currently testing for pneumonia to try and find out what’s going on. This is not a fun mystery. He has also had to have three blood transfusions due to low red blood cell counts… which help with the oxygen level in his blood… each has gone well.
- Brain – we thought it was clear, but when reviewed again, he did have a grade 1 bleed (the worst being a grade 4). The doctors don’t seem too concerned, and all babies will be rescanned at 35 weeks. For the grade 1, they just let it heal itself. His was actually so small that the doctors said a few years ago, with different technology, they wouldn’t have even seen it.
- Heart – his ductus was originally closed, but has since opened. He has had two rounds of the meds (three doses in each round), and today’s echo showed it is still open… we will know on Monday if, or when, surgery is necessary.
- Stomach – he is tolerating his feeds well! Unfortunately he’s had to go off feeds each times he’s needed the heart meds, but he seems to go right back on them very smoothly! The doctors say his feeds are one of the best things he’s got going on right now! This is great because if he can get bigger, they think some of his other issues will start to go away!
- Eyes – he also had eye gunk, but the cultures came back negative! Yea!
- Other –he has also had a few septic workups, but all have some back negative! He does still have his PIC line in.
- Prayer requests – that his heart ductus closes and that his lungs get stronger.

George – has improved every day this week!!!

Read below - this is his "unicorn" shot...
Below is one of DB's favorite shots of our sweet boy :)

- Lungs – he went off the ventilator within a few days of being born – yea! Since then, he has gone back and forth between needing C-Pap and a nasal cannula… he tried breathing unaided for a short time, but it didn’t go so well. Yesterday, for the second time, he went back down to the nasal cannula, and has been doing really well!
- Brain – we thought it was clear, but when reviewed again, he did have a grade 1 bleed (the worst being a grade 4). The doctors don’t seem too concerned, and all babies will be rescanned at 35 weeks. For the grade 1, they just let it heal itself. His was actually so small that the doctors said a few years ago, with different technology, they wouldn’t have even seen it.
- Heart – his ductus has been, and continues to be, closed!
- Stomach – last weekend we were told that something was up, and it could either be NEC (an intestine thing which can be very bad!) or simply gas. Not fun! He had a septic workup and had to be off feeds for 72 hours… and because his PIC line was out, they had to give him an IV for nutrition – the IV was in his head! (This is where the "unicorn" photo came from... apparently, it’s actually a great place because there aren’t as many nerves, and it’s not as easy for him to knock out... but it doesn't look pretty!) But, once the test came back negative (yea!), he went back on feeds and took to them immediately. He’s been doing great!
- Other – he was transferred to the level 2 nursery, but with the fear of NEC he came back to the level 3 that they’ve all been in. His PIC line is out!
- Prayer requests – that his belly continues to look good and NEC does not develop

I know – long post – not sure many people will make it to this point! Ha ha! I hope this gives you an idea of what’s going on… I’ll try to be better about mentioning major events (like if or when Samuel needs surgery). Our roller coaster ride has had high highs and low lows… and every minute is totally worth it! These babies have completely stolen our hearts!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Silver and Gold

Even if you weren't a Brownie, you know the song :) Sing it with me... "Make new friends, but keep the old... one is silver and the other's gold!" Yes, I might be losing it... in fact, I wouldn't be surprised :) But even if that's true... this is so entirely from the heart it makes me tear up...

What an incredible... trying... awesome... tough... emotional... joyous... two weeks! Olivia, Samuel, and George are conquering more battles every day... and every day there are more battles for them to conquer. The simple things that we take for granted, like keeping our heart beating, remembering to breathe, and learning to digest food, are things they not only have to remember to do... but many times be reminded to do. It's funny, we spend lots of time talking, reading, and even singing to them, which I hope they hear... and at the same time I hope they never remember having to be in the hospital :) It is certainly something DB and I will never forget.

Which brings me back to the title... and friendship. Something else we will never forget is the incredible support we are receiving... from our family and our friends - "old" friends, new friends, and even friends we have never met. Every email, voicemail, text message, prayer, well wish, visit, kind word, gift, etc.... that is sent our way is so powerful. I think half the time I do tear up it's simply because I am so overwhelmed by how much our family and friends love our children. I'm not going to lie, there are moments when we feel very alone... but it is not due to lack of support. This entire experience is new for us in so many ways - and I'm not sure we could ever adequately express our gratitude for genuine friendship and care!

I'm having a hard time putting into words what I am feeling... I'll try to break it down. I pray for joy every day. There are moments when I don't feel joy... sometimes I feel overwhelmed, sometimes sad, and sometimes fearful. But when my babies hear my voice, I want them to hear joy and happiness! Even if we can't nuzzle them, I want them to know that their parents love them, and can't wait to bring them home! I want them to hear love in a place where most of the sounds are that of machines going off... besides the wonderful nurses and doctors who treat them like the sweet babies that they are :) I know that part of the answer to my prayer for joy is friendship... every time I start to slip a little there is a friendly message, or face, or text, or letter that reminds me how much we are blessed. We have three wonderful babies!!

Family and friends - high school friends, college friends, "hot-lanta" friends, school friends, church friends, friends of friends, BC friends, friends... make us laugh - remind us that everything is going to be okay - show a tremendous amount of care for our new family - and most of all, love the babies :) Thank you! (Hmmm... those words don't seem to cut it... maybe if I bold them they will mean more?) THANK YOU!

Don't worry, I wouldn't post without photos of the babies :) Yesterday was their two week birthday... and today they are officially 31 weeks! Some funny photos...

Mom and Dad... I'm practicing my pacifier! (Samuel)

I'm less than two weeks old, and I've got the "smirk" down pat! (George)

Hello! Welcome to my incubator! (Olivia)

This is just a cool shot... the babies had to be under the billilights (sp?) for jaundice the first couple days. LOVE their shades! (Olivia)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

One week birthday

It's been a big 48 hours... yesterday was the baby's one week birthday... and today they're 30 weeks! Or, as the doctors put it, they celebrated their 8th day of life :) And the 30 weeks is their gestation... because they were so early, they still keep tabs on the babies based on what day/week it would be if they were still in the womb. I can't believe Olivia, George, and Samuel have been here an entire week!! We love them so much!

All babies had a good day... lots of changes all the time. But this post is all about their 1-week photo shoot! Olivia, George, and Samuel worked the camera :) The nurses were awesome - helping us along the way and sharing in our enthusiasm - and even insisted that George and Olivia could have their incubators open while we took the photos. They also gave us some great ideas for documenting growth - two of which were with a toy and a wedding ring. We took both ideas and ran with them. The babies were very tolerant of us... they must love us too :)

This is just a reference point for how big their animals are :) That's BB's hand...

Samuel and his turtle - sweet pea!

Samuel with DB's wedding ring around his wrist

Samuel with momma's and daddy's fingers

Olivia with her octopus - my friend Brooke found the animals, and she thought the octopus looked the most feminine :)

Olivia with DB's wedding ring (she's not sure what to think of all this :))

Olivia with momma and daddy (DB has the gloves on because the ring has to be sterilized for each baby)

George with his crab - no, not because he's crabby :)

George with DB's wedding ring - stretching out as usual

George with momma and daddy - checking out the world one eye at a time :)

George all cuddly - I just couldn't resist!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What day is it

I have no idea where the last five days have gone! But they have been amazing :)

I also have no idea where to start this post... so here's the latest news - the babies are doing fantastic!! Today was a great day! They're only 6 days old, and already they've surpassed so many milestones. We are riding on cloud nine!

Just an overview... (I'm learning an entirely new "doctor lingo" so the stats and numbers are filling my brain right now, but I'll try to keep this brief :)) Also, things change from minute to minute, so I’ll have to figure out a way to keep this updated without getting to ‘medical’… these three provide so much joy to DB and I every day, and I certainly don’t want to overshadow that with medical updates :)

Olivia - her breathing is steady - she was off the ventilator on day 2 (still requires assistance), she is still under the lights for jaundice, and her heart echo is better.

George - his breathing is steady - he was transferred to minimal assistance tonight, he is off the lights for jaundice, and his heart echo was great from the beginning.

Samuel - his breathing is steady - he was off the ventilator yesterday (still requires assistance), he is of the lights for jaundice, and his heart echo was great from the beginning.

Today was a huge day because all three got a clean bill of head health after ultrasounds were done – YEA!!!!

The prayers and thoughts that have been sent our way have been very powerful – thank you so much! It is a wonderful feeling for DB and me that so many people are loving our little ones… they mean the world to us!

A few photos of the punkins – finally :)

The night before the babies come!

DB preparing to meet me in the OR :)

First photo of Olivia!

Olivia a few days old... precious girl!

First picture of George - and his tiny toes in my hand

George a few days old - sweet boy!

First picture of Samuel

Samuel a few days old - our peanut

Dad and Olivia "kangarooing" - I'll tell you more about that later, it's awesome!