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!