Thursday, July 28, 2016

Happy Due Date!

My little Luke & Levi,

Today is your official due date. Although I knew you would for sure come before today, I had no idea you two would already be 11 weeks old already! You have grown so much and everyone that meets you can't believe how well you are doing for being born so early. My once tiny, fragile 2-pounders are now both over 7lbs and are getting chunkier by the day. You are sleeping a majority of the time so you can use all your energy to grow. Mom and dad sometimes have to wake you from your peaceful slumbers so that you can eat. You both love the Rock N' Play sleepers that Grandma Rachel bought you and to be swaddled in the blankets that Grandma Cheryl bought you. Your older brothers love to push the buttons on the Rock N' Plays but it doesn't bother you. Mom and dad try to get you to sleep in your bassinet but you much prefer the Rock N' Plays and mom and dad much prefer the sleep, so you win. :)

I'm torn throughout the day of how much time I spend cuddling and caring for you and how much time I spend tending to your older brothers. You both are still learning how to drink your bottles and it takes a while to get you all fed. Luckily we figured out how to feed you both at the same time so that has helped us free up more time, but mom and dad are still very busy throughout the day. Luckily you have been such angels for us that we still have our sanity, but we can't wait until you can sleep through the night so your parents won't be like zombies during the day anymore. We know we will look back at this stage and miss it (well, most of it) but we also are excited to see you continue to grow and see your personalities.

>> I never got the chance to finish this (as life was so crazy around this time!) but I wanted to at least post what I wrote.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

One month old!

Alright so I know this is a couple days later than I planned but here is the update! I've been awful at taking pictures I've realized so I need to commit myself to that so I can post more on the next update.

Thursday marked 33 weeks for our boys, but these cuties are already coming up on 5 weeks old! It's crazy how fast but yet slow the time has passed..

They finally moved over to the continuing care nursery (CCN) last weekend- woohoo! They are in separate rooms that are connected. I was nervous I wouldn't be able to hold them together again since they are further apart but the nurses are able to hook Levi's cords into a spare monitor in Luke's room so I'm very happy I've been able to continue holding them at the same time. :)

We got the stomach bug around our house so we didn't get in to see the boys for a couple days after they moved to the CCN. When we finally got to see them I was ecstatic to find they were wearing clothes!!! They looked like normal little newborns! It looked much more comfy for them to be in clothes and all swaddled up. I got so excited that I brought preemie clothes I had at home for them and played dress up. Believe it or not, the preemie clothes were a little snug! They definitely will not be in them much longer, but I'm okay with that because it means they are growing. In fact, they are both 3lb 10 oz now! It's funny, some days they are the exact same weight to the gram, other days they are just a little different, each taking turns being slightly heavier than the other. Hopefully that whole taking turns thing continues as they get older haha.

Both boys are getting some fat on them and their skin is looking a lot less fragile. They both had eye exams a couple days ago since preemies have higher chances of vision problems. The exam was sad to watch. It looked painful but they had numbing drops so they probably didn't feel much. The results came in today and they passed! They will have to have the test repeated in a couple weeks though. They both are maintaining their temperatures well and might be able to move to open cribs soon. They will start bottle feeding at about 34 weeks. If they can manage getting to open cribs and mastering eating, there isn't much more keeping them from going home (besides Luke's oxygen).

Levi is still doing great off the oxygen. His repeat head ultrasound came back normal with no bleeding. And for my favorite update (drumroll please!).. We tried nursing this week and he totally rocked it! We did what's called non-nutritive breastfeeding. Basically I just pumped right before we practiced nursing him so he could start to learn how to eat, but not really needing him to get anything since he still got his meal from his feeding tube. The lactation consultant was very surprised how well he did! She said he did amazing for his gestational age and that there is a good chance he will have little problem getting proficient at the whole eating thing. I was so proud of him!! 

 
Luke is doing great too. He still needs oxygen but continues to handle the small decreases pretty well. They want him to conserve his energy to grow so they aren't pushing to get him off the oxygen too quickly. We tried the non-nutritive breast feeding with him too and he was just too sleepy to try. He also had some congestion so he was working hard to breathe but once his nose was suctioned he did much better. 

Us four at home are doing well. I'm still pumping away and it is very time consuming. I've learned to be proficient at pumping and I always have my pump gear wherever I go. I can't count how many times I have pumped while driving (don't worry, I cover up!) I'm so happy that I have plenty to give my babies and I'll definitely have enough to feed them both as they grow.. I produce about 60 ounces a day! My freezer is filled with so much milk already I may even have to donate some before they even get home! 


 
My stock pile - I had even more than this but I accidentally left the freezer open and I lost a bunch of milk that thawed. Talk about depressing throwing away so much hard earned milk!!

Ok so that's the good news, here is the not so good news: today Levi had a little blood in his stools so there is a concern he has a common but serious infection in preemies called Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC). This infection causes cells in the intestines to die and could possibly result in surgery if it gets out of control. Once the doctor saw the bloody stools, tests were ordered right away. He had to have blood drawn to test to see if his white blood cells were elevated and blood culture to see if bacteria is in his blood. They had to do a catheter to check for bacteria in his urine. They started an IV for antibiotics and hydration since they are stopping his feeds for 48 hours (this makes me want to cry - he has just really started showing signs of hunger!) He also had multiple x-rays done to see if there is signs of infection in his intestines. Luckily his white blood cell count and urinalysis came back normal! His first x-ray was normal, but his second showed possible infection. The follow-up x-ray showed the area of concern had moved so most likely it was just stool that was seen. Such relief!!

The nurses unfortunately kept running into problems during all these labs being done so what should have been an hour turned into a few hours. It was heart wrenching watching him poked and prodded as they tried multiple times to get an IV and catheter in him as he cried out the saddest little cries. He ended up with an IV in his head and a catheter that had to be left in for a while. I trust his nurses and I know they weren't running into problems because of lack of skill.. Just every little body is different to work on. Poor little guy was completely worn out by the end of it. 

I left the hospital emotionally exhausted today but grateful that as of right now, things are leaning more towards him not having NEC. He hasn't had bloody stools again and the blood tests have come back good so far and the latest x-ray was good too! There is possibility that he has a small cut at the end on his intestines that we can't see that caused the bleeding. He could also be reacting to the change to his milk fortifier. We will know more tomorrow when the blood culture comes back. At 24 hours we get preliminary results, at 48 hours the test is complete. I'm praying my heart out they come back negative so my little guy won't have to battle this awful infection and that he can start getting to eat again! 

As I left the hospital today, I reflected on a conversation I had with another NICU mom last night as I was leaving the hospital. She told me of her experience with pregnancy and that she had lost 3 babies due to prematurity, and her baby in the NICU was born at 26 weeks. Through everything she had been through (like losing her 27 weeker to infection) she had found that only through God was she able to heal and have hope. Although we aren't of the same faith we definitely had a bonding moment where we shared our testimonies of the importance of God in our crazy situations. It was an uplifting conversation that sparked a feeling of appreciation for the growth we have gained through it all. It's hasn't been easy, and it's still not easy, but I'm just grateful that me and this other mom have had strength by turning to Heavenly Father. I'm also thankful for this sweet mom who helped prepare me to go into today with a rejuvenated sense of gratitude because it has helped me to keep myself together.. Her words and hug were so much what I needed before I even knew I needed it. I hope I can be that person for someone else one day!! 
 
Well, here's to good news for my Levi tomorrow!
 






Sunday, May 29, 2016

3 Weeks Old

I can't believe our babies turn 3 weeks tomorrow! They would be 31 1/2 weeks old if they were still in momma's tummy. But here I am cuddling my handsome little Luke as I type.. Moments like this are so surreal to me. I can't believe we were blessed with two strong spirits who have fought their way into this world. I always tried to remain positive through my pregnancy but there were definitely times I wondered if I would ever get this moment - a moment where I held them in my arms and would know they would be alright - and I knew if I did get this moment that I would have the responsibility to make their fight worth it. I will have to remind them often that they must have a great purpose in this life because they have overcame so much to get here. I will have to let them know how loved they are by so many and that they can accomplish anything they set out to do because of that love and support!

The first time we held Luke and Levi. Kangaroo holding (skin-to-skin) is so good for them but the process of getting them out of their beds is stressful for them so we have to hold them for at least an hour. Doug was scared to hold them because they are so fragile but we both loved the cuddles. 10 days was far too long for this mommy to not hold her babies!

 

I'm so proud of them for how well they have done. Fortunately for us, we have had a smooth-sailing NICU experience so far. Many times we come to visit and find they have met yet another goal and we are so surprised they have come so far! They only had their PICC lines (IV that gives them nutrients) for less than a week. Now they are getting all their nutrients from my breastmilk and a calorie fortifier through a feeding tube. They both are 3lbs now - YAY! Their digestive systems are working great and we know this for a fact because of the many times they have pooped on us while changing their diapers haha. They are up to their "full-feeds" at 26mL (a little less than an ounce) every 3 hours and doing well with them. They are off the bilirubin lights, off the humidity, and are regulating their temperature well with a little help from their beds. They are now breathing on their own instead of having a machine give them breaths. In fact, Levi is completely off oxygen altogether! When I came to see them last Sunday I couldn't figure out why they looked so different for a second and then I realized they didn't have cannulas in their noses anymore! They both were breathing room air!!! As I was leaving Luke started to act up a little and had to be given oxygen (I think he was mad I held Levi that night haha). He still is needing oxygen now but it's very minimal.
 
 
Mr. Levi being a complete rockstar by breathing on his own!

Mr. Luke was able to conquer being on room air for 6 hours before needing a little oxygen again. For his water being broken for so long during pregnancy, the fact that his lungs were able to do this so early on is amazing!
 

Some of the main concerns for preemie babies are infection, breathing, and brain bleeds. We had a scare they had infection but then the blood work came back good. They are doing great with breathing. Their head ultrasounds show no bleeding in Luke's brain and a tiny bleed in Levi's brain. He will need to have a repeat ultrasound in two weeks but the doctor says it should not be a concern as far as development goes. In her words "If I was the parent of your twins, I would be jumping up and down in joy at this news with them being born so early."

We are excited that the boys are stable enough that they will be transferred out of the ICU to the continuing care nursery any day now. We just have to wait until two adjoining rooms open up. :) The rooms will have a bed so we can spend the night with the twins. Usually we spend about an hour or two a day with the boys but once they move we will be able to stay longer since the rooms are more comfortable and offer more privacy.

 
There is still at least another month and a half before we will bring them home. I can't wait, but I am glad to have the time to heal without taking care of twins and get prepared for them without being huge and uncomfortable.. there are definitely some perks of NICU time. We have had fun getting things by the double.. we know we have twins but the whole getting two of everything really makes us say "Oh my gosh, we really have twins!" We also had to upgrade to a minivan. I don't know why people think vans aren't cool. I feel pretty smokin' hot riding around in my Honda Odyssey with sliding doors. But really, vans make life with kids a million times easier!
 
This also made me feel super hot! No ankles.. sorry if this grosses you out haha. Swelling & pain of my feet and legs was the worst part of recovery. But now that my feet have returned from their puffy state, I am pretty much back to normal and feeling great! You probably can't tell in this picture but the design on my toes is the TTTS awareness ribbon in honor of my littles miracles. 
 
 
It's also been nice to be home with Hunter and Landon and give them my attention before bringing home the babes, who will require much of that once they come home. Landon doesn't get it, but Hunter is excited. Today we took them to see the twins and we let Hunter touch Luke's hand for the first time. His face lit up and he said "Aw he's so cute, he loves me!" Yep, it was a melt-your-heart kind of moment.
 
It feels like forever away before they come home.. But then when I remember 3 weeks have already gone by, I feel like they will be home before we know it. :)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Birth Story & First NICU Update

I feel guilty that I haven't updated my blog yet as I know many of you want to know how things are going now that the twins are here... thanks to everyone who has been so patient while waiting for me to give the update! Warning: this is a long post with lots of potentially "TMI" details. I am mostly writing this for myself and putting it out there for those who want to read it. If you want the update for just how things are going post-birth, scroll down :)

I guess the story starts on Saturday evening. I had been having contractions every morning and evening during my monitoring sessions. I could always feel the contractions but on Saturday night they were particularly uncomfortable. After the doctor came in to talk with me it was decided that they would start the magnesium to help protect the babies brains just in case this was real labor. The contractions spaced out a bit but I could still feel them. Between the awful effects of the magnesium, the contractions, and the uncomfortable position I had to remain in to keep the babies on their heart rate monitors I got almost no sleep that night. I thought for sure the twins were going to be born on Mother's Day.



Luckily by late Sunday morning the contractions had come to a stop and the doctor said he was fine to take me off the magnesium. Yay! I took a nice long shower and spent a majority of the day catching up on my sleep. I was glad to see Doug and the boys who brought me sweet gifts for mother's day. I think the best gift, however, was the twins deciding to hang out in mommy's tummy for one more day as each day in the womb makes a big difference!

During my evening contraction monitoring on Sunday night I was having very frequent contractions again but they weren't painful. Since I wasn't feeling them we decided I didn't have to start the magnesium again. However, during the middle of the night I felt cramping and at 5:30am on Monday morning I woke up to painful contractions. I knew I was in labor and there would be no stopping it. My nurse came in and put me on the monitor and saw I was having contractions every 3 minutes. She could tell by my face that they were painful so she decided to check me. I was dilated to a 3 and 50% effaced (the last time I was checked I wasn't dilated at all). She informed the doctor and they started the magnesium and moved me over to labor and delivery. I called Doug and told him to get to the hospital, which he did quickly. My poor mom who was in Payson at the time had to try to get down here before the boys were born.

Once we confirmed with an ultrasound that both babies were head down and were tolerating the contractions well, I was given the OK to have them vaginally. The thought of having a csection was so scary so I was SO happy I might not have to have one! I eventually got an epidural and my parents and Doug's mom got to the hospital. About 5 minutes after my parents got there, I asked my nurse to check me since I had pressure. She checked me and said "OK, it's definitely time. Keep yours legs crossed!" Within a few minutes my bed was being pushed down the hall towards the operating room with an entourage of medical professionals following me.

 Getting wheeled to the OR

Once in the OR, I was moved to the operating table and all the nurses/doctors were in a hurry to get things finalized. I looked around and saw TWO beds.. it hit me, I was about to have two babies!!  Everyone had to be gowned up like they would need to be if I needed an emergency csection (most twin birth happens in an OR just in case this were to happen). I got very emotional as I was positioned to push baby A out into the world. It was 6 minutes from the time we entered the OR to the time Luke arrived at 9:54am by only a few pushes. As the doctor held him up I was overwhelmed with emotion. He looked bigger than I expected, and he was crying the quietest, cutest little cry I have ever heard. This was a huge deal as we didn't know how his lungs would do since he had such little amniotic fluid around him for so long. They took him straight over to the bed where the neonatologist and his team worked to make sure he was ok. Amazingly enough, his APGAR score was 8 out of 9 when he was first born, and then 9 out of 9 after 5 minutes. SO MUCH RELIEF!! He weighed 2lb 10oz and was 14 3/4in long. They bundled him up and brought him to me to give kisses. I was stunned when I saw this perfect little human blinking and looking around. He was tiny, but the love I had when I saw this little fighter was so huge that my heart felt like it would explode!

 
After Luke.. waiting for Levi!



They took him up to the NICU and now it was time for brother to come. Dr. MacArthur told us that it can sometimes take a while, and since my contractions had spaced out to 5 minutes apart, it may take a bit of time before he came. Every contraction I pushed to get him to come a little lower. His water sac was still intact and the doctor didn't want to break it until he was almost ready to come out. Finally he got low enough to break his bag, and the doctor felt like I shouldn't wait for a contraction to push. Three pushes later and Levi came into this world 42 minutes after his brother weighing 2lb 12oz and 15in long. The nurse said the cord was tightly wrapped around his neck and my heart dropped as the doctor twirled him to untangled the cord. I was so worried as I didn't hear the same cry I had heard with Luke, but the doctor reassured me he still was pink and probably didn't have the cord wrapped around his neck very long. It was a blessing the doctor had me push immediately after he broke Levi's bag because if we had waited he might not have been as okay as he was. His APGAR score was 4 out of 9 at first, and 8 out of 9 at 5 minutes. I kept asking Doug if he was ok and he said he was. Once he was wrapped up they brought him over and we took a picture just as we had done with Luke. Although he didn't have his eyes open as much as Luke he was just as perfect and I loved him so much!

And just like that I was a twin mom.


 My sweet husband was in charge of taking pictures but the nurses took some as well. Apparently my request to all of them to keep the pictures/videos decent was misunderstood so I have a lot of editing to do before I can release more haha.
 
Doug followed the neonatologist and his team as they took Levi to the NICU. My doctor worked to deliver my placenta which was a decent size - I mean.. it nourished two babies for 7 months! The cords looked so tiny to me, but I was comparing them to the size of the cords of my full-term babies. As weird as it sounds, I'm sad I didn't get a good look at the placenta. Sometimes after the TTTS surgery you can see where the connections were lasered on the placenta's surface. However, my mind was totally elsewhere at the time so I didn't think to ask!

I was wheeled back to the labor and delivery room where my family met me (my sisters had gotten there while I was delivering). They laughed at how awake I was after having delivered twins on little sleep. To be honest I was that way that whole day until 11pm because of all the adrenaline I had. They were so excited and got up to the NICU as soon as they could. When Doug returned to my room he told me they were doing ok but that Luke was now struggling to breathe a little but they were going to give him time before they would intubate him. Doug showed me a video of his breathing and it broke my heart. His chest would totally cave in with every breath, and he was on high levels of oxygen. It was so hard because he was doing so great at birth but now he was struggling.  Luckily by the time I got up to see him (which was a few hours after I delivered) it was a lot better, but he was more awake than his brother because he was still working hard. He just needed a little time to adjust and thankfully he did! All the nurses commented on what a little fighter he was.



Hunter and Landon got to come to the hospital that evening to meet their new brothers. Landon is still too young to understand but he kept pointing at the babies. Hunter's eyes lit up and he was wondering when we could take them home. He insisted we were missing a baby since neither of them were named Bikey. Backstory: when I was pregnant I asked Hunter what we should named the babies and he said "Bikey" and laughed, but he was dead serious apparently haha.



UPDATE ON ME & BABIES

This by far has been the easiest recovery I have had with any of my deliveries. Other than the ultra swollen feet and legs, I'm feeling great! My life right now consists of pumping, snuggling Hunter and Landon, pumping, napping, pumping, visiting the twins at the hospital, and more pumping. If you didn't get the hint, pumping takes up most of my day. I pump every two hours for 15 minutes at a time (besides the one 5 hour break I get at night). With all the prep time, it takes about a half hour, and then I'm pumping again 1.5 hours later. It's so worth it though. My milk is like medicine to the babies with the antibiotic properties it has. I was almost brought to tears after all the hard-earned milk spilt after pumping one time! All the pumping is paying off as I am increasing my supply. I look at supplying food for the twins as my full-time job at the moment. Hunter sees me pumping and he laughs and calls me a cow, it's hilarious.

The babies are doing so well! They have slowly lowered their oxygen levels and have been stable enough to not need to be intubated. There was a scare that they both had an infection but likely the bloodwork has come back negative for that. Levi is now taking 3mL of breastmilk via his feeding tube every 3 hours, and Luke is getting 1mL. They are sleeping most of the day other than during their care times (this is when they get diaper changes, temp checks, feeding, etc.) Levi is pretty chill but Luke gets feisty. It's funny that's how I imagined them when I was pregnant. They both are under lights to lower their bilirubin levels since they have a little jaundice, but this is pretty common for premies. They wear the cutest little shades over their eyes while under the light. They also have lost a little weight but that is to be expected as well. We will probably get to hold them in the next week but we need to wait until their skin is a little less fragile by weaning them off the humidity.  The doctors are very pleased with how they are doing! They will probably be released at about 2-3 months old depending on how they do. They have had a great start so far so hopefully we are looking at closer to 2 months! I can't imagine how we will possibly tell them apart once we bring them home.. they truly look identical at this point!




 
Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers! I'm gonna try to be good about giving updates on the twins NICU journey but we are so happy they have done well so far! We are so incredibly blessed to be parents of 4 amazing boys and for all the support we have in raising them!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

28 Weeks!

 
 
 
Wahoo!!! I'm am so excited to say we have officially made it to 28 weeks! If I wasn't on bedrest I would be up dancing away. We are now in the "yellow" zone as Dr. Chmait, our TTTS surgeon, put it (24-28 is red zone, 28-32 is yellow zone, and 32+ is green zone). This means the twins now have much better odds if they were to be born soon. We have a growth ultrasound on Monday and hopefully the boys will be around 2.5lbs each. Then afterwards we will get to talk to the Neonatologist about what the odds are now since we are in a much better place than we were when we talked to him last. I think the stats are something like 90-95% survival with 10% chance of disability at this point. We will know for sure once we talk to him on Monday though. Still hoping to make it to 34 weeks and if we do we will be induced at that time around June 16th. I don't think we will get that far because I've had quite a few nights of contractions, but the twins have conquered everything like champs so far so it wouldn't surprise me if they did happen to get to 34 weeks. 

 My crafty mom made me this cute clipboard with uplifting interchangeable quotes to keep on my side table - and the flowers in the background are from my mother-in-law :)
 
After 5 weeks of hospital bedrest I still haven't gone crazy - at least I like to think I haven't haha. I am for sure sick of the food here already, though. Luckily I was moved to a bigger room - aka the biggest suite on the floor- with a fridge so I'm able to stock some things to eat in that. It's the beginning of watermelon season (Doug's favorite time of year) and so Doug brought me some cut up watermelon to snack on. Let me tell you, Sam's Club has the BEST watermelon if you are here in the valley. Landon can't get enough watermelon these days, too. Doug sent me this picture the other day.. 
 
 
Note that Landon is wearing Hunter's underwear since Doug didn't want to get a diaper dirty. :p

Speaking of watermelon, I feel like my belly is just one big watermelon. People still keep telling me I'm tiny but let's be honest, I feel like a beached whale. My belly button is no longer an innie and I have lovely stretch marks that itch like crazy. That's ok, I guess the babies are listening to me when I tell them "Grow, babies, grow!" 
 


 See that dot on my belly? That's the scar from our TTTS surgery!

Carter's had a big online sale so I decided to get some outfits for the twins. I ended up buying a lot more clothes than I planned. Doug laughed at how excited I was to go through the package- it was like Christmas opening all the tiny outfits! I can't believe I won't just have one tiny human to snuggle but TWO! 
 
Doug still gets to come and spend the night some nights - it's almost as if we have date night more than we did when I was home. :) he also brings the boys by every other day or so and I love when they come. Of course, I have to bribe them with snacks so they will stay as long as possible. They seem to be doing good considering how their lives have been turned upside down. I feel bad for my little Hunter.. He has missed out on a lot of joy school days and tball games, and now his tball season is over! We got this little gem to cheer us up.. He's such a ham! 


 

He is getting to be such a big boy, and I'm excited because I know he will be a big helper. He says the funniest things. He is obsessed with this animal show Wild Kratts, and he is always wanting to make our family the characters on the show. He also loves the colors blue and green because they represent Chris and Martin on the show. The other day I asked him what a girl from the show does and he answered "She programs creature power discs." Smart boy haha! When my friend Erin was watching him and told the kids it was time to clean up after playing outside he said "No thank you, I'm too hot. You guys clean up and I'll just stare at you." At least he said it politely? Smart boy again.. 

 
Landon is jabbering away now days and can repeat things we say.. Well at least he tries to. The other day when he came to visit he cuddled with me which is something he never does! It was just what I needed to make my day. He also likes to pull my shirt up and poke at my belly button or beat my belly like a drum. It's crazy that pretty soon he won't be the baby anymore. I feel like he got gypped in that area. I'll have to make sure to still give him much attention after the twins come home. My mom sent me a picture of when I was a baby and Landon definitely looks a lot like I did!
  
 
We have been so loved and I have had many visitors. I've had family/friends bring me all sorts of treats and things to do, give me pedicures, send flowers, and just help me pass the time by spending hours just chatting. I have written down a list of all the people who have done kind things for me and it's about 40 now! So that's why I haven't made any personal shout outs but you all know who you are - I love you and am so grateful for you!

Monday, April 18, 2016

One of Those Eventful Days

Yesterday morning I got up and felt another big gush which is something I haven't had since Baby A's sac ruptured at 21 weeks. I waddled to the bathroom to find the same thing I found then - a lot of fluid and bleeding. I told my nurse and she came in and stuck my babies on the heart rate monitors and the contraction monitor on. I was having slightly contracting going on. After Doc came in he decided to check to see if I was dilated at all (painful but I wasn't dilated at all thankfully) and then started me on the IV magnesium in order to protect the babies brains in case I went into labor.

The magnesium (aka the drug of the devil, at least to me haha) is given in a large dose for 30 minutes and then it's tapered down and given for at least 12 hours. The large dose definitely was not fun as it made me really hot, flushed, and have a weird feeling in my lungs. I was so relieved when they finally turned it down and I felt a bit normal again. After not eating breakfast because I was afraid the magnesium would make me nauseous, I was grateful to eat lunch and not feel nauseous.

Luckily Doug was here all morning with me during all this and my parents came and stayed most of the day shortly after he left. Having them here was nice to help take my mind off of the effects of the magnesium. As the day went on, though, it got harder and harder to breathe and I felt like someone, an elephant maybe, was sitting on my chest. By the time I was done with my nightly monitoring, my chest hurt so bad. I asked my nurse if they were going take me off of the magnesium soon since I wasn't contracting and she said the in-house doctor had ordered it to continue through the whole night. After she left the room I broke down crying. I couldn't imagine going through the pain all night and knew I wouldn't be able to sleep even though I was exhausted.

The in-house doctor came in to explain to me his reasoning for keeping me on the mag throughout the night. He walked in during my crying episode and he did not handle it well. He made me feel like my crying was bothersome and made him feel uncomfortable. He couldn't even make eye contact with me the whole time he spoke. He asked me what was wrong and I told him about my lungs. He said "Well there has got to be more to it since you are crying." I wanted to punch him and say "Have you not read my chart? Any women who has gone through what I have gone through has every right to cry whenever she wants to!!" But I didn't, I just explained that my emotions have just built up and I finally released them. After he explained the reason to keep me on the mag was the worry that I'd start contracting again if it was stopped to soon, he told me he was willing to turn the mag dosage down and prescribe sleeping medication. He then asked if I had support in town, looking at me like I was a crazy lady who needed family to calm her down. Again, I wanted to punch him as I told him my husband was on his way. I was relieved when he left the room and I told my nurse I'm glad he wasn't my normal OB.. He had really bad bedside manners and only made my emotions worse.

Once Doug got here I tried to cuddle with him but the pain was too bad and I was still hot from the magnesium. So, he laid on his own bed but it was nice just having him there to vent to.. He's the best listener. I tried to sleep without taking the sleeping medication because 1) I hate taking any medication during pregnancy and 2) I was afraid if I fell asleep I would stop breathing. I was in so much pain that I threw up. Changing the dosage of the mag didn't help at all and I laid in my bed until finally I decided to take the sleeping pill at 1am. Thankfully I fell asleep!! When my nurse came in around 5am she said the doctor had decided to stop the mag since I threw up.. I guess he realized I wasn't lying when I said I was in a lot of pain. And... I didn't start contracting! 

This morning I have been exhausted and trying to get back to my normal self. We had the growth ultrasound today and babies are both measuring 1lb 8oz, which is a few days behind track but not abnormal for twins. Baby A still had some fluid around him despite the constant leaking I have. Baby A is head down and B is breech (he changes position every time!) My nurse removed my IV, yay! I hate being tied down. Now, I'm excited to shower and take a nice long nap. I hope no more days like yesterday happen again, at least until babies are big enough to come! 


Friday, April 15, 2016

25 Weeks

Sorry to those who have been patiently waiting for an update.. I've just been super busy.. HAHA! Just kidding, obviously. The real reason I haven't updated is there really hasn't been much change going on-- which is a good thing! Babies have been passing their monitoring sessions with flying colors and I have not had any signs of infection or contractions. My doctors are telling me I could be one of the lucky ones who stay here in the hospital for the long run! As hard as it's going to be I'm just so thankful to be stable and with a better outlook for these twin boys. 

I am also really grateful for hitting 25 weeks!!! Like 24 weeks, there is a big jump in success once hitting 25 weeks. If the babies were born this week I think there is a 75-80% chance they will survive, with up to a third of those having some form of developmental complications. Not the best stats, but much better than what we were looking at. I have a growth ultrasound on Monday (we have these done every 3 weeks) and we will have an idea of about how much the babies weigh. Afterwards, we will do our tour of the NICU and talk with neonatologist again about what to expect for how far along we are and the weights of the babies. I'm excited and nervous.. Hopefully they will be right on track growth wise like they were last time. They were a little over a pound each then so hoping they will be nearing close to 2lb each! I still have weekly ultrasounds to measure the fluids around the babies, and this week Baby A had a little over 2cm of fluid, which is good considering his sac broke! Baby B has about 4cm of fluid which is normal.

Other than normal pregnancy symptoms, I have felt great the whole time. Well, besides one day this week I was really nauseous and kept throwing up. It made me feel really crampy so I was nervous I was going to go into labor. But luckily after 48 hours I was feeling better - must have been the hospital food, haha. In the hospitals defense, though, the food is actually pretty good and I was even granted permission to order off the special "bistro" menu so I have a few more options since I'm referred to as a "long term patient". ;)

I've been good emotionally too. I have had a lot of time to reflect on things. I have thought a lot about the power of kindness and service, and how my little family has been so blessed by those who have helped us during this time. It made me realize how much more I need to serve others and has motivated me to do something about it once I break out of this joint.

I also realize how much I take the little things in life for granted, like putting my children to bed. I used to think of it as a chore some nights, but now I yearn to be able to tuck my boys into bed and read them a story and kiss them goodnight. For now, I'll settle with our little visits where we take wheelchair rides and hang outside for a little bit. I probably look forward to these times the most! 

The Lord knows what he is doing. He knows we need trials to help us rely on him and help refine us into better people. I just hope that I learn whatever he needs me to learn from this trial, and that I will be a better person on the other end of it. It's hard to be stuck in a hospital room and this pregnancy has been the hardest thing I have ever had to go through... But I know He has heard and answered my prayers and all the prayers in our behalf. 

Now, here's to our next major goal: 28 weeks! 

Friday, April 1, 2016

23 weeks + 1 day


Today is day 3 of my inpatient stay in the hospital. It hasn't been too bad yet.. Although I know it's still just the very beginning. The newness of luxuries, like getting hot meals brought to me in bed and a call button for anything else I need, will soon wear off and I'll get a little stir crazy. Right now the thing helping my sanity is waking up each morning knowing that these boys have remained inside for one more day.. Every day is an accomplishment. 

I love that on my patient board in my room they update how far along I am. Today my nurse wrote 23+1. It definitely might not seem far along to most, but this means that I have stayed pregnant over 2 weeks since baby a's water broke! No infection, no contractions, and babies are both growing. On Monday I had a growth ultrasound and they both were measuring exactly the size they should be to the day. Doctor also found the separating membrane so they are not in the same sac like we had thought! Yay! Baby A did have fluid, and although very small, I was happy there was at least some.

For the most part things have remained status quo luckily. I have contraction and fetal heart rate monitoring at the beginning of each shift, and these have been good. Except the first night they kept picking up only one heartbeat, and after 3 nurses tried to find two, they ordered an ultrasound. I could feel both babies moving so I wasn't too scared, but after the ultrasound tech spent more time than I thought he would (the screen was faced away from me) I got nervous. My sisters were here at the time and they were nervous as well. Fortunately he told me there was nothing to worry about and things were ok! 

I don't have much leaking going on and the doctor this morning said there is a very small chance the sac could have resealed, but it's unlikely. I'm trying to drink as much water as possible to keep fluids going to them, especially baby A. 

We talked with the neonatologist yesterday about what to expect if the babies are born now and each week after. Of course it's scary and the statistics aren't great. He referred to 23 weeks as the "grey zone".. The point where babies will start to live but it is rare and disabilities are very likely. So they leave it up to us to make the call if we want them to just provide comfort care or do everything they can to save them. It's such a hard decision.. I want to fight for them to live, but I also don't want them to have to endure living with severe disabilities. In the end, we decided that we will do a "trial of life". Basically they will do everything they can to save them, and if things aren't looking great after a few days we have the option to switch to comfort care. We felt like we could be reassured that we at least tried but didn't make these babies suffer if things aren't good. Once 24 weeks, they strongly suggest giving babies complete care, and every week after offers much better mortality/morbidity statistics. So our current goal is 24 weeks!

I've had many "firsts" this year and one of them was my first shot in my butt haha. I got steroid shots yesterday and today - completing these was our previous goal. My rear stung for a bit but it was worth it. I feel relieved because these steroids will help boost the lung development of the twins, and if they end up coming soon, this will at least help them fight to make it. We will not know until after delivery how Baby A's lungs will be since his water broke. I'm hoping these steroids will make a huge difference for him.

I have kept myself busy with watching TV, reading, coloring books, games, and visits from my family. Doug has spent the first two nights with me, and even though he sleeps in his cot most of the night, it makes me sleep better just knowing he is in the room with me. Today he will bring Hunter and Landon to see me. I haven't seen them in 2 days so I'm really excited!! I'm also excited for conference this weekend! It will be the first conference in a while that I will really get to hear all the talks without stopping to take care of kids. I really look forward to hearing the words of our prophets and am hoping for some comfort and guidance during this time.

Again, thanks for the love and help and prayers. We are grateful for you all! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hurdles

Yesterday morning we had an ultrasound. The night before I had a rough time sleeping as I was so anxious and nervous about how it would go. Once we got to the doctors office I started to have a mini panic attack in the waiting room.. It was hard to breathe and I couldn't hold back the tears. I have many days were I'm strong and can be optimistic, but I think overtime my inner fears build up and just release all at once, and the anticipation of seeing if our twin boys were ok just triggered that release.

I was relieved that both babies had good heart beats, cord blood flow, and were moving. There was only a small amount of fluid around Baby A but that was to be expected as I am still slightly leaking. The sonographer was having a difficult time trying to find the membrane that separates the babies and she had Dr. Cook come in to see if he could see it. After a few minutes he said to her "It's very possible they are Monoamniotic now since there was so much membrane separation." At that, I burst into tears. He tried to reassure me that I've gone through the worst and that it will be ok. But.. I knew he was just trying to calm my nerves. Monoamniotic means they no longer have a separator between them and their cords, essentially making them in one sac. So if I was able to overcome all the other issues, now there was just one more risk: that their cords could get tangled and cut off their blood supply. As this thought crossed my mind, I couldn't help but just feel crushed. Every appointment I have I feel like there is a new hurdle in the way of getting these babies here safe. It's not for sure that they are in the same sac, but it's a possibility and future scans we will be able to say for sure if they are or aren't.
 
Dr. Cook made time for me in his schedule to put me in a room and talk things out with me. I had had some concerns about the plan and he was able to reassure me that we were doing the most we could do. I trust him and I just need to have faith that things will turn out the way they are supposed to. 
 
Next part of the plan is having a growth scan on Monday to measure if the babies are growing. Then I will be admitted Wednesday morning and will be there until delivery.. Which we are hoping will be a long time from now at 34 weeks. It's been good to be home and sleep in my bed and spend time with my littles, but I'll be thankful when we can be monitored closely at the hospital. Tomorrow will be 22 weeks... One week closer!!! 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fearful First Night

The first night in the hospital after baby a's water broke was very scary. That day I had no major contractions and only "irritability" that showed up on the contraction monitor, which wasn't a surprise. It seemed like we were in the clear and that we were going to be able to avoid going into preterm labor, so I told Doug it was ok for him to go home with the boys that night. 

Around 2am my nurse came in to take my vitals and I mentioned that I was feeling cramping. She put me on the contraction monitor and within 10 minutes I was having consistent strong contractions every 5 minutes. I could tell by the look on her face it wasn't good. I started to feel panicky which made the contractions worse. I was glad they weren't painful yet, but they kept coming and we're getting stronger. She gave me a medication in my IV to stop contractions and I asked her what they would give if that didn't work. She told me they wouldn't give me anything else and that she had to "fight to let them give {me} this medication". I was shocked and hurt and confused... I had come all this way to be told they wouldn't help keep the babies from coming too early? She explained to me that they don't like to stop labor in patients who have broken their water as labor could be a sign of infection. She also said since I'm so far away from viability they don't want to keep giving labor-stopping meds because they are hard on me and the babies. I just cried... I knew why they couldn't stop labor, but my heart was breaking. This could be the night I would meet and have to say goodbye to my babies. 

My nurse told me it would be a good idea to call my support person to come just in case things progressed. I called Doug to come down and his mom came to our house to stay with the boys. I was relieved when he got to my room. I had him climb into the tiny hospital bed with me and hold me as we cried and talked about heavenly father's plan for us. I asked him to give me a priesthood blessing and I felt comfort after that. I finally dozed to sleep in his arms, and the contractions slowly tapered off...

Friday morning I was still on edge emotion-wise, and I was tired from not getting much sleep, but the leaking/bleeding seemed to be letting up and there was no sign of infection or contractions. The amazing Dr. Cook came in to check on me and chat with us.. He clarified all the misunderstandings I had about the protocol of labor if it happened. He is so knowledgable and caring, I'm lucky to have him as my doctor. We love him so much we gave him some sour patch kid candies ;)

Last night was a world of a difference. Doug didn't stay but knew to have his cell right by him, and I got such good sleep. I slept from 10 that night to 9 in the morning with minimal interruptions from my nurse. Today I just have felt so much more positive and I was so happy to come home and gets hugs and kisses from my boys. I'll have to soak up this time with them as I go back in less than 2 weeks to stay until the twins come. They don't quite understand it but they are so loved by those who watch them that they do well when I'm gone. 

Two days past pPROM and counting... Hopefully many more to come! 

Me in all my hospital glory.
The bow goes well with my fabulous hospital gown, doesn't it?


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Things take a turn..

This morning one of my worst fears happened: my water broke. It happened as I got out of bed and I rushed to the bathroom. I was expecting to see clear fluid but I saw so much blood instead. Instant panic set in and I called Doug who had just barely left for work and told him we needed to go to the hospital. I texted my doctor and called my mom and she came to stay with our boys who were still sleeping at the time. 

I tried to hold it together but it was so scary as we drove to the hospital. I just kept praying that the babies would be ok. We got to the hospital and were checked in. They hooked me up to an IV and monitored for contractions which luckily I wasn't having much. They checked with the Doppler and found two heartbeats! I could relax a little after that. The nurse had to do a physical exam that was a bit painful but they were able to confirm baby a's water did break. We had an ultrasound and luckily both babies are doing fine and my cervix is still holding up strong. Baby A now has little fluid like Baby B had and I'm sure B is taunting A saying "See, that's how I felt!" 

Dr. Cook came in to tell us the plans. He said it is good that I'm past 20 weeks as data shows better outcomes when waters break prematurely. He said he thinks the bleeding is blood from my subchorionic hematoma that I have had since before the surgery 3 weeks  ago, and it didn't surprise him. The plan is for me to stay until Saturday for them to monitor me and the babies. I will get antibiotics as infection is a complication of preterm premature rapture of membranes (pPROM) aka sac of water breaking. Once I'm released on Saturday I'll be on stricter bedrest at home and then I will be readmitted to the hospital in two weeks from today and will stay for the remainder of the pregnancy. I will get steroid shots to help mature the babies longs and will get medication to stop labor if I start contracting. If I carry to 34 weeks (which I hope I do!) they will take the babies as it's not safe to go longer. 

It's all so overwhelming and I feel awful that Hunter and Landon won't have a mommy for a long while. But I'm grateful for modern medicine and good doctors who are doing everything in their power to keep these little ones cooking. 24 weeks is viability, meaning the time the twins have a chance to survive out of the womb. So that's the first goal, but obviously we need them to bake longer so they have fewer complications. I'm glad to be at a great hospital with a level III NICU that can handle micropremie babies if it comes to that.

Thank you for all the prayers and support for us! It's been a battle but we know that we can get through with our Heavenly Father and the Savior! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

21 Weeks

Last Thursday I went to my weekly appointment with my Perinatologist and had our anatomy ultrasound, basically checking every little part of each baby. Luckily my mom was able to keep me company at my appointment since Doug had to work.   It was a looongg appointment but I loved spending so much time viewing our sweet twins on the screen. At one point I got really dizzy and had to sit up and nearly fainted. We figured it was because I was lying flat on my back and not on my side. Once I changed that I felt so much better! 

After the ultrasound the doctor (different from Dr. Cook- he was out of town) came in to tell us that everything looked great! Both babies had fluid measurements of 4 and had good strong heartbeats. He also said they were about the same size, measuring exactly what they should be. It was such a relief!!! I was so glad to have an appointment with only good news. We also got some really cute pictures as well :)

Cute little nose!

I have no idea why it looks like a hole in his head..

Baby B Profile


That face! 

The cutest little bum picture ever

My last appointment was Tuesday. The front office had to schedule me to meet with Dr. Cook first and then have my ultrasound. Dr. Cook said that as of Thursday, everything was looking great and that he thinks I can move to light duty instead of bedrest next week. Woohoo! Then I had my ultrasound and he popped in afterward to talk to me about it. He said that Baby A, whose sac Dr. Chmait had to do the surgery through, had a fluid measurement just under 2cm. Baby B's fluid was 4 like it was last week. I have been having a tiny bit of leaking so he thinks it's possible that Baby A's sac has a slow leak. So.. Next Tuesday they will check again and if it's still low they will have to run some tests to be sure. I'm bummed for sure but I'm hoping the measurement was off this week and next week everything will look great and I can still move to light duty. Fingers crossed! 

On a positive note, it's been fun to feel them move around more, and it's also reassuring so I don't freak out between appointments as much. I can pretty much tell which baby is moving which I never thought I'd be able to tell. 

It's been hard to be on bedrest and miss out on the fun. Hunter started tball and I only got to see pictures of it. Luckily my boys give me lots of hugs and kisses so I still get to feel like mommy. Hopefully these weeks will fly by and these babies will get here safely. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

19 weeks

Well I officially have 1 week of bedrest down. It's funny, you would think that having the excuse to do nothing would be wonderful.. But in reality it's awful! Don't get me wrong, it's been nice watching Doug mop floors and all :p.. But the weather is so perfect outside and all I want to do is go on a bike ride with my little family or go on a hike or go play at a park. Sigh. But as I'm laying here listening to my boys play, full belly from a delicious breakfast whipped up by my husband, and feel the subtle movements of the twins wiggling around inside of me, I can't help but feel grateful. I know that even though bedrest is hard it is so worth getting the boys here into our arms as healthy as they can be.

I had an appointment with my doctor on Thursday for an ultrasound. It's amazing to see how much better the twins are doing! Baby B now has fluid, 5cm of it which is perfect. Both of their hearts and cord flow are perfect. Really, this much improvement this early on is amazing. The only downside of my appointment was that the separation of the amniotic sac from my uterus is much, much bigger. I could even see the membrane just floating around on the ultrasound. The sonographer said in all her years of experience, she had only seen such a thing one other time. So.. I'm just more at risk for my waters breaking or going into preterm labor. My doctor didn't seem overly concerned since those are somewhat manageable if they happen. But, I just have to be even more careful and have stricter bed rest. 

I am really grateful for modern medicine and for the doctors who have given my babies a chance. Dr. Chmait, who performed the surgery, was amazing and I know I was led to him for a reason. He personally called to check on me this week. It's so nice to know there are doctors who truly care about their patients and take the time to show it.

I'm also so grateful for all of those who have called or texted us, offered to make dinner or help with grocery shopping, watched our boys, sent flowers, gave me reading suggestions, and prayed and fasted for us! We feel so loved. Two of the many acts of service that have blessed our lives was my wonderful mother slaving away 2 days in the kitchen making us so many freezer meals! My sweet mother-in-law, Cheryl, has set aside her time to watch Hunter and Landon and is always making sure that we are fine. I could go on about all the wonderful things people have done but these two women are such great examples of service and we just love them so much!!!!

Friday, February 26, 2016

24 hours later

I know many of you have been waiting to hear the news.. Well here it is... TWO HEARTBEATS!!!! My heart could explode with the amount of love and gratitude I have right now. The ultrasound showed not only 2 strong heartbeats, but baby B already has fluid and his bladder is filling again. No more TTTS!! 

The only negative thing was that the amniotic membrane has separated a little from my uterus. My doctor doesn't seem to be too concerned as he has seen patients with this before and sometimes it improves or even goes away. However, if the hematoma persists or gets bigger, then the separation can get worse, putting me into preterm labor. So I have to take it really easy and be on modified best rest for the rest of my pregnancy. Dr. Chmait said that what he is seeing today is much better than what he expected. Prayers work miracles!!

We are sitting in the airport ready to fly home. I'll have an ultrasound appointment every week with my Perinatologist for the next month. 4 weeks is the next milestone and if things look good at that point there is a good chance I will be able to carry these boys to term! 

It's been an emotional roller coaster and there's definitely a possibility it might not be over, but I have hope that our babies will get here safe. My little fighters kicked TTTS's butt and now we just gotta fight to keep them baking as long as possible. 

Love you all, thank you again for the prayers! 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Our TTTS Surgery

Today we got to the hospital at 6am in order to be ready for our 8am surgery. After all the paperwork was done and I was in my fancy-smancy hospital gown, the anesthesiologist came in to give me my first dose of drugs. Basically, it was Benadryl and another drug to help calm me and the babies. It made me super sleepy at first and every 10 minutes she gave me another dose. By the time I was pushed back for surgery I could barely keep my eyes open but I was awake. 

Once in the OR, my heart started to race really fast. I was so nervous about how my babies would do and also scared to have the surgery. All of the team were fantastic and as nice and caring as could be. Dr. Chmait saw me crying and told me to think positive. Once I was positioned and linked up to what seems a billion wires, Dr. Chmait gave me a local anesthetic in the area of incision and that was the only thing I needed! It wasn't bad at all and I didn't have pain, just pressure. I was able to watch some of the surgery on the monitor next to me when I could keep my eyes open. Words can't describe how amazing it was to see my little babies in the flesh. They both were pretty sleepy and didn't move much, which was exactly what we needed. Baby A was cuddling with Baby B, and the nurse said in all her years of doing this surgery, she hasn't seen anything that cute. :)

The surgery lasted about an hour and after it was all done Dr. Chmait informed me it went great, better than he expected. The amniotic fluid was so clear and he had been worried it wouldn't because of the hematoma. It made the surgery so much easier and he is confident that he lasered all communicating vessels between the babies. He told me he cured the TTTS of my babies and he is optimistic about how everything turned out!! He feels the hematoma is so small that he doubts it will make for any complications at this point, but we will see more tomorrow morning. The relief I felt was like someone had taken a billion pounds off my shoulders and happy tears were shed. I could not thank everyone in the team enough for saving my babies.

Although we passed the first milestone, we still have other milestones to go. The next one is tomorrow morning when we do the ultrasound. If both babies have heartbeats and there are no signs of fluid leakage or preterm labor I will be released. In the meantime I feel like time is moving at ultra slow speed. Luckily I have been sleeping most of today because of the drugs so that has helped the time pass by faster.

I KNOW without a doubt Heavenly Father answers prayers, and heard all of the prayers of our loves ones, and even prayers of people we have never even met. As I sit here I can't hold back the tears of gratitude as I owe the success to all of you who have prayed with us or put our names on the temple prayer roll. Even if we don't know you, we love you and are so grateful for you!!!


Baby A kissing Baby B, letting him know it's gonna be alright!

Ear of Baby A

Top is Baby B's hand, clenching and wrapped by the membrane because of low fluids
Bottom is Baby A's hand, all free to move around