Friday, December 16, 2011

Next to Normal

Amid all the craziness of life it gets very difficult to keep up with all of this and everyone.

My little (er, big....) family feels like a normal(ish..) family finally! I feel like the NICU days are a thing of the past and I have an amazing and loving toddler and 2 wonderful baby boys. I am happy to say that Dacember holds not a single Dr's appointment for the twins! While this sounds like such a simple accomplishment, it felt damn near impossible only 3 months ago when the boys first came home. Yes, I said 3 months ago! Tomorrow is the 3 month anniversary of the day we finished our NICU stay and brought Trev home!!!

Typically with a baby, every new accomplishment is filled with joy and excitement as parents get to watch their little one grow and learn about the world. Babies who are born prematurely and thrive in the NICU and are discharged are not in the clear with their health. They are at a greatly increased risk of having numerous disorders. Every little normal accomplishment (smiling, eating, rolling over, sucking thumb, kicking both legs) is now so much more than a milestone where I get to watch my boys grow. I watch them accomplish new things and I feel like I am watching them overcome the odds. It's a wonderful thing to see positive progression of their development! And both boys so far seem to be right on point with their growth!

Dax loves to beam his smile across the room and cannot get enough of people smiling back at him. Well, until he's had enough. Then he will let you know! When Athan got tired as a baby, he simply stopped playing and went to sleep. When Dax gets tired, it's everyone's problem until he falls asleep! However, he doesn't want you to feed him, burp him, cuddle him, wrap him, talk to him, hold him or put him down until he is asleep. He LOVES his swing. When he gets his screaming/I'm tired moods, sometimes the only thing he likes is the swing. We can hold him and make the exact same motion while swinging us in his arms but it is simply not the same in his eyes. I think it is just too much stimulation for him perhaps.

Trev finds so much satisfaction in sticking his tongue out at people. It seems every night, after I get home from work, the first thing he does is stick his tongue out and then smile at me. I predict he will be the shy one of my children as he is very specific as to when he chooses to talk to us and when he just wants to look. When Trev was born, he appeared to have a receding hairline and very thin hair. I assumed he got my side of the families hair traits. Then, one day, I woke up and it seemed that hair had sprouted overnight. Suddenly, I saw a little baby Matt head. It's so cute!

We have good control of Trev;s blood pressure now with medicine still. Our last visit to his nephrologist went well. While his BP is still elevated, a healthy blood pressure increases as you grow. Since he has done so much growing and his BP hasn't been increasing, it is technically getting better. We checked it today and he was at 101/49. Much better than in the past.

We went to Shriner's Hospital for Children in Sacramento last month to speak with a specialist about Dax's spine. All I can say is WOW. Shriner's is an amazing resource with amazing people! I have never had such a wonderful experience at a medical facility before. We arrived and checked in and someone escorted us to the lobby, which is gorgeous. Then we saw a resident Dr. first and shortly after, the attending Dr. She ordered a new round of X-rays and we were escorted to the X-ray department. We waited, maybe, 3 minutes in the waiting room for X-rays and then went back to the Dr who had the X-rays already. All in all, we spoke to a specialist, got X-rays and followed up on them within maybe 2 hours. Can you imagine that at any other hospital?? Nope! And it's completely free!!

Anyhow, I expected to see the specialist and get an idea of when she planned to perform surgery to fix his spine. Instead, she tells us that many children with spinal abnormalities grow with a perfectly straight spine and that his is currently not showing any curvature. The plan is to continue X-rays every 6 months as he grows and watch for signs of curvature. If it happens, we plan treatment then. He may never need surgery! Time will tell!

I have so much to be grateful for this holiday season! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Updates All Around!

Every night I feel like I am in a competition. With who, I'm not sure. My three boys perhaps... Most nights end in my victory and occasionally I lose. But, when I lose it usually means that at least one of my boys loses too... so perhaps I am not in competition with them? A competition with gas, maybe? Hunger pains? Tonight, I seem to be winning as all 3 of my boys are.... hmmm.... make that two of my boys are sleeping and Trev is in his swing grunting at me when he should be sleeping. We're gonna wait and see how that one ends. Perhaps he will work it out on his own. A mommy can hope, right?

As time goes on, our lives are taking shape more and more. Here is a little taste of where we all are in life right now.

I am attempting to balance work life with home life, though the scales definitely seem to tip towards home life. I am so greteful to work with close friends who would give me the world if they could! Because of them I am able to tip the balance to my home life more than I would be able to at most other jobs. I am involved in opening a restaurant in Redding right now. I like to consider myself master taste tester! I am not the culinary genious of the group but I have gained a good appreciating for good food. And I do have one signature dish of my own on the menu! It involves goat cheese and that is all the info you get! If you want to know more, you must come! We are a few weeks out from being open and I expect to see all of you there!

Matt is not working currently and he spends his days mostly in our living room keeping the 3 boys entertained, clean, fed and happy. A very exhausting job to say the least! He is considering working a little bit part time during the holiday season. We'll see if that works out.

Athan is stepping into his role of big brother as well as I could have hoped! Though he did throw a ball at Dax earlier. That was a fun conversation explaining to him that his brother can't catch a ball yet. Athan brings them blakets, holds their bottle for them and gives lots of kisses. It is amazing to see how sweet that boy is!

His knee is looking great after having his surgery over 2 months ago. He has a very nice pronounced 2" scar vertically right over his kneecap. We've explained to him that one day it will help him get attention from the ladies! The Dr. said it looks great and he doesn't expect the hemangioma to recur so we are done with that chapter of his life and we just need to keep an eye on it to make sure we don't see signs of it returning.

He is beginning to speak so well! Every day I am amazed by his vocabulary.

------ And that is where the boys decided I would stop writing the other night. Now to pick up where I left off. Athan's vocabulary...--------------------------------------------------

It's amazing to see his little mind at work learning new things constantly. He has gotten to the point where we no longer need to teach him words. HE simply absorbs them from conversations. Speaking of conversations, he has very clear conversations with us now. Matt told me today he walked by my empty mug that still had a tea bag in it and said, "Uh oh, Mommy didn't eat it all!" Cute. though apparently he doesn't quite understand tea yet!

Daxton is growing and developing very well. He is well over 8 lbs now and has grown out of newborn size diapers already! He really likes to talk to us and is starting to give us smiles often. He is a very easygoing baby and quite content just sitting on his own after he eats so that Trev can eat too. Tonight was the first night I have had him demand that I hold him while he falls asleep. We have his first Shriners appt on Nov 14th which I can't wait to get more information as to what his treatment will be. I just want to know what my baby is in store for. He has his 3rd (and hopefully last) eye exam since his discharge on NOV 1st to make sure that his retina has developed properly. With all the O2 he was given early on I was concerned about ROP but his last few eye exams have been getting better and better and he just had one spot left in his left eye where the blood vesselsdevelopd in a way that is referred to as popcorn. We expect this to be all resolved when we go in on Tuesday.

Trevyn is growing and developing well also. He knows what he wants and is not afraid to tell us. Poor baby has a lot of gas pains and was a bit colicky when we first got him home though this seems to be gone now. We get a lot of sweet "sleep smiles" from him which are quite precious. I'm pretty sure he was working on sticking his tongue out with Jeanette tonight!

We are currently going to the pediatric unit at the hospital twice a week to check his BP as it was elevated again shortly after he was discharged. His pediatric nephrologist wants his diastolic BP to get below 100 and it has been around 115+. On his last visit Trev was being fussy which makes it hard to get a good BP read. We decided to take a break after getting really high readings so he could calm down a bit. We walked up to the NICU to say hi to the nurses. While we were up there I mentioned what was going on with his BPs and the nurses measured Trev's arm for me and determined that they were using the wrong size cuff to take his BPs! They gave me the right size and we proceeded down to the peds unit to try again. This time we got 2 high BPs and 2 normal ones. I didn't want to torture his poor little arm any more so we decided to leave it at that. I plan to take him in again tomorrow and hopefully we will get some normal pressures!

We also have an appointments with a pediatric cardiologist in mid november for a small valve between Trev's atria of the heart that never closed, called ASD. We will see how that goes but the Neonatologist seemed optimistic about it.

I want to add more picures to my blogs but I am finding it to be a very time consuming pain in the butt. Whenever I load one it automatically loads on the top of the page and I have to drag it through the entire blog to get it in the right place. Anyone know of anyway to get it to load in a specific location?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

4 Men and a Mommy!

Well, the last month has been a whirlwind to say the least! We have been acting like a "normal" family of 5 over the past month, simply with a few extra Dr. appointments.

If I could pick 5 words to describe this experience so far they would be:

How do we do it??? I don't know!!! Here is my typical day!
11am - I wake up around and immediately pump (moo!) and take a shower. I do so immediately because I know the moment I emerge from my room I will be sucked into a wonderful vortex of cuddling with Trev, feeding Dax and listening to Athan tell me all about his airplanes and Choo Choo trains as well as what he had done throughout the morning so far. I love this part of my morning, thus I do the necessary things before embarking on this daily journey, therefore allowing proper enjoyment of such events.

11:45am - I am now ready to tackle what needs to be done for the day. So, I emerge from my room and partake in the aforementioned activities.

12:15PM - Now is the time I begin to think about the things I need to do for the day. Grocery shopping, Dr. appts, blood pressure checks, Early Intervention appts, manage medical bills, go to work... yadda yadda yadda!

12:30pm - 5:30pm - Time to actually get those things done. This is the time of day where I get to escape the madness of my living room. Don't get me wrong, I love spending as much time as possible with my boys, but I need some me time and some girl time!!! (enter Jeanette!)

5:30pm - I come home defeated only having gotten 1/3rd of the things done that I had planned on completing. ((In high school I never understood adults when they said that there are not enough hours in the day... Now.... I GET IT!))

6PM - Either Matt or I figure out and prepare dinner while the other juggles babies, dirty diapers, lego trains, computer mouses, juice bottles... you name it...

7pm-7:30pm - If we are lucky Matt and I get to eat dinner around this time. Of course it is almost always cold but by this time, I couldn't care if it was frozen, I'm starving! And we don't dare take the extra time to pop it in the microwave for a few minutes. Moments with free hands to eat a meal around our house are fleeting and if you don't sieze the moment, it may pass you by and leave you with an empty stomach!

8pm: Bath time! Athan is pretty easy and enjoys his baths a lot! One of us simply polices to bathroom to make sure there are no shenanigans going on (ei, the water is staying in the tub). The boys get bath time in the sink in the bathroom. They LOVE their baths! In turn, I love their baths as well! They get so irritated with me when I am getting them out of their outfits that by the time I get them to the water they are screaming at me. Then, as I put them in the warm water they immediately calm down and just look around and stare at me with their big beautiful eyes!

Sometime between 9pm-midnight - Athan's bedtime. He has taken on the desire to sleep either in our bed or on the couch so he can be with mommy and his brothers. We tried letting him sleep in the bed once. After numerous bruises, poor sleep and waking up to a toddler who feel of the side and was stuck between the crib and bed led us to the determination that the bed was not our best option... Now the couch is fun because Athan falls asleep while Mommy takes care of his brothers and then when he is good and zonked, mommy takes him to bed and he never knows the difference. PS: carrying 30lbs of dead weight toddler at midnight is no easy task!

10pm - Matt heads to bed to get some sleep before I wake him up before 5am. I'm on my own and ready for the challenge!

10pm-2am - I feed and try to train the boys that it is sleep time all while pumping (moo!) and trying to clean up the craziness from the day.

2am- I usually have both boys asleep and I join them!

4am-5am - Boys wake up and I wake Matt up and then I pass out!

Heh, I explained in the beginning of this post that this was my "typical" day. As I laid it out I realize that I do not have a "typical" day! But, that is a good example!

So, as you can see by my daily schedule, I don't have much time with free hands. Thus, the lack in blogging. I really want to keep all the details straight and everyone updated so I am hoping to get another blog together within the next 2 days that is more of an update on the boys and how they are growing. Hold me to it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


A look at the past few months in numbers...

28: The day in June that Dax and Trev were born.

2: The number of minutes their birth was apart.

2#: Trev's weight at birth

1#, 15.5oz: Dax's weight at birth

48: Number of days they slept in seperate beds in the NICU.

74: Number of Days Dax spent in the NICU

82: Number of Days Trev spent in the NICU

1: Number of times Trev was intubated while in the NICU.

3: Number of times Dax was intubated while in the NICU.

8: Number of days Trev was in the NICU without Dax.

137/105: Trev's blood pressure at it's worse.

3: Number of different meds Dax came home on.

2: Number of different meds Trev came home on.

3: Number of blankets that were donated, each, toDax and Trev in the NICU

5# 6.5oz: Trev's weight when discharged

5# 3.4oz: Dax's weight when discharged.

0: Hours Matt and I have slept at the same time since Dax came home.

7: Approximate number of hours Matt and I each get of sleep every night (we have a good system)

57: Number of 2 year old temper tantrums Athan throws daily (or something like that....)

25: Approximate number of diapers we go through daily.

4: Number of Dr. appointments we will be going to this week.

400: The mL amount that is my goal for my boys to eat daily.

390: The average mL/day Trev has eaten since home.

415: The average mL/day Dax has eaten over the past few days.

5: The time in the morning when I go to sleep and Matt wakes up.

10: Number of people in our lives who would immediately drop everything and be here for us at 2am if we asked. For these people, I could not be more grateful!

2: The number of days I have had my whole little (er... big...) family at home together!!!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

68 days and in the home stretch!

Well, in the 23 days since last doing an official update so much has happened!!! I could spend 5 hours giving all the crazy updates, if I had that kind of time... but I don't! Therefore, I am going to give a very simple and quick update about each boy,

For both of them ---

Feedings- both boys were introduced to bottle feedings just before 34 weeks gestational age (around 9/17) They started off doing 1 bottle feed a day and they would suck about 3-6 mL of their 30-35mL feeds and we then put the rest in the tube. Then, the series of events proceeded really quickly in the following order... finished their first full bottle>moved to 2 bottles per day>finished both>1 bottle, 2 tube pattern> finished all feedings well>2 bottle, 1 tube pattern> finishing all feeds well.... Now, we are hoping for the report tomorrow that they will be on a 3 bottle, 1 tube pattern and the next step after that is all bottle!!! I love that both boys have kept up with eachother in the development of their bottle abilities!

Location- The NICU has 1 large room and 1 small room. The big room is for the sicker babies and the smaller is known as the "grower/feeder room". A few weeks back, the boys moved from the middle of the big sick baby room, to the corner and into a crib! Then on 8/31 they were moved to the grower/feeder room! Best part of the move?? Their is a window and Athan got to see his brothers!

Their nurses - When the boys were first born, they each had a personal nurse 24/7 who pretty much sat in front of their bed and kept a constant eye on all their vitals. Now, there are 6 babies in the grower/feeder room and only 2 nurses total!


Oxygen- Dax came off the nasal cannula for 2 days the first time and then needed to go back on it. Then, about a week later(around 8/25ish) came off the cannula for good and has been doing very well with his O2 saturations since!

He has very steadily gained weight and tonight he was at a whopping 4lb, 15oz! We're hoping to hit the 5lb mark tomorrow!! Dax seems to have a very calm and curious demeanor to him. He rarely fusses and loves to just look around during his bottle feeds.

Eyes - A common preemie problem is known as Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). If you look at any diagram of a haelthy eye, you see the blood vessels all grow outward toward the pupils. ROP is when they grown in an abnormal way and become somewhat mangled. There are multiple stages of ROP, the lower the better, as well as 3 zones. The higher the zone, the farther it is from the retina which is better. Currently, Dax has stage 2 ROP in zone 3. stage 1 ROP is common in all preemies and typically goes away as can stage 2. HE will continue follow up eye exams. If ROP does fully develop, it can lead to blindness, but if caught early enough it can be treated with laser surgery.


Oxygen - Trev has been off of O2 completely for almost 3 weeks now. He is doing great!

ROP - Last checked, Trev has stage 1 ROP in zone 3, which is better from his first exam of stage 1 ROP in zone 2.

A few weeks ago, Trev was very fussy all the time, had some trouble gaining weight and even lost almost 3oz in 2 days. He had very high blood pressure during this time too. A normal blood pressure for a baby his size would be something like 80/40 while a normal blood pressure for an adult is 120/80. Well, Trev's was as high as 137/105. VERY HIGH! The nurses didn't tell let on at the time, but they were getting worried as it was so high at times that the cuff couldn't even get a reading. First, the Dr, took him off of his caffeine (used as apnea prevention). Then they performed a series of tests one of which was an xray and doppler scan of his kidneys. Well, the radiologists reports seemed all over the place and it seemed that the conclusion was that his right kidney was functioning normally, but his left kidney had blood flow through the middle but not the top or bottom. The Dr. decided to send the scans to a pediatric nephrologist at UC Davis to be reviewed by someone who had more experience with preemie scan reading. The nephrologist believes that there is nothing to worry about and any abnormality of his kidney function is something he will grow out of.

We have since put Trev on blood pressure meds. He began on captopril which he was given every 8 hours and was on this for about 2 days with no improvement and then the Dr. switched him to, I think it's called enalapril. The enalapril worked amazingly and quickly too! Within a short time (a day maybe??) Trev's BP was down to a normal level. You could tell when visiting him that he felt soooo much better to. He was instantly in a better mood and less fussy with a better, pinker flesh tone. He was on the enalapril for a short time and the Dr. has since taken him off of it as of about 4-5 days ago and still no high BP! We will be taking Trev for a follow up with the pediatric nephrologist after they have been discharged.

Since Trev had a hard time gaining weight for a short time, he is playing catch up to Dax. At one point Dax was a whole 3/4lb heavier than Trev. But Trev is catching up and is now only 4.6 oz behind at 4lb, 10.4oz!

It is amazing how much the last 68 days have flown by and yet so much has happened. Dr. Jain told us yesterday that we can expect to take them home in about a week and we are now in a bit of a panic with so much still to do to get ready for their arrival! I can't wait to sit in my back yard with a sleeping baby in my arms and my feet in the pool while Athan splashed around!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Veering off the tracks...

A nurse told me the first night I saw my boys that the NICU is like a roller coaster. I believe over the past few weeks especially I have experienced the truth behind that. My boys were (and still are!) both doing so well that I was able to see the finish line!! They were both gaining weight well. Breathing well. Keeping their temperature well. Everything was lining right into place! Then the roller coaster kind of decided to jump the tracks for a few days. Literally. The emotional NICU coaster literally jumped tracks from the NICU baby coaster into a whole new one that we have not even begun to ascend. I had a really hard few days and was not really prepared to talk about it, but after reading up on things and mentally processing a lot, I am not so terrified of the future and ready to face what the years to come will bring.

I'm sure anyone reading this now is wondering what the heck I am talking about. On Friday, August 19 my parents came to our house to take care of Athan while Matt and I headed off to the hospital for the boys' 2pm bottle feedings (they are trying their hand at drinking from a bottle all on their own!). We got into the NICU and Dr. T gave us the updates for the day. Dax had been off of any oxygen help for a few days and had begun having a few oxygen D-sats again so they put him back on it and Dr. T ordered a chest xray to make sure he did not have fluid in his lungs or any collapsing of the alveoli. Good news, his lungs look great! Then Dr. T says that when we have a second, he noticed something in the xray that hadn't been remarked upon before and he'd like to show us. I thought nothing of it. We had a few moments with the boys and then went and sat down with Dr. T at the computer. He then showed us Dax's chest xray and explained where his lungs were and his heart and told us that both looked great! Then he continued on to looking at his ribs and spine. He points out that it appears that 2 ribs look to be fused together and at least one vertebrae (maybe two) did not properly develop. The below xray image is NOT Dax, but it shows kind of how his vertebrae look (though not in 2 places like the image shows).
Dr. T explains that he would like our permission to send a referral to Shriners hospital for Dax to be seen by a specialist once his NICU stay is done. As he said this all I could think about was the commercial for Shriners hospitals where the kids are all singing "Imagine" by the Beatles. I always viewed Shriners as a place where only really sick kids went. I NEVER expected that my child would be one of those really sick kids! Matt and I spent another hour or so in the NICU with the boys and I spent the whole time trying not to burst into tears over the news I had been given. How was it that everyone seemed so calm over the situation?

We left the NICU and on the way home I told Matt I did not want to tell anyone about the xray until I had more time to process the information. Basically, I needed to have an emotional mommy breakdown first and I wanted time to myself to have it before I started talking about it.
We got home, gave Athan big hugs as we always do when we get home, thanked my parents for taking care of him (I'm so lucky to have them!) and said bye to Grandma and Grandpa. I spent the rest of the afternoon kind of out of it and finally decided later in the evening that I had to tell someone. I was not going to be able to accept it and process it until I got it off my chest. If I told someone else, it would all be real, I could begin to accept it, fear it and start facing it head on!

I still didn't want to talk about it with someone so I decided to explain it to my mom through a facebook message. As I began typing out the explanation I finally let out all the emotions I had been balling up inside and trying to hide from myself. The fear finally came to me. It was a huge relief. Fear is a completely natural emotion, especially for a mother forced the face the fact that my child had a developmental deformation at birth. Fear is what kicks us into gear and motivates us to act and do everything we can to improve our situation. Fear is fight or flight! I am a fighter (I learned it from my amazing Grandma!) and my 3 boys are fighters as well. Flight was never an option for me, but as I let myself be emotional while typing out my explanation of what was going on, I could feel the fight in me begin to kick in.

I finished typing my knowledge of what was going on with Dax's spine and sent it to my mom only to realize a few minutes later that she only got the last part of the message. All the emotions I had put forth to explain everything were simply lost in the facebook cyberspace abyss. Now, based on the little bit of information my mom got from the message, she only knew something was wrong and had no clue what. Of course, she immediately began calling me. I wasn't sure I was ready to talk about it out loud yet and I ignored her first million calls (it really seemed at the time like she called me 20 times within 5 seconds). Finally I answered the phone and began to explain everything. Out loud. And I really let it out.

I remember back to when I was maybe 11 or 12 and fell while riding my bike at a friends house. I scraped up my knee really badly. I even have a large scar now from the fall. I remember that I wanted to be tough and not cry over it. I don't recall it even hurting that bad. I scraped my knee up and it was ok. My friends mom drove me home and I was fine the whole way. However, as soon as I opened the door and saw my mom, I burst into tears! It's funny how sometimes all a girl needs is her mommy to be there to let it all out. That is exactly what I did as I explained everything to her. I let it all out. And after I felt so much better and completely ready to do whatever I needed to do for my baby boy. My mom, despite the fact that I know she herself was devastated by the news, stayed calm and explained that there is a lot they can do for Dax and that everything would be fine and Dax would be fine.

After speaking with my mom, I began googling spinal malformations to try and gather information and I was so saddened to see some things that sweet innocent little babies have to suffer through. As I saw how bad some babies situations are, I realized how grateful I am. There are many babies out there who are far worse off than mine. Don't get me wrong, I wish every morning, noon and night that my children did not have to endure all that they are going through. But I believe that there is always much to be grateful for in the world and I am a firm believer in truly appreciating all that we have been given in life.

Since Friday I have learned more about Shriners Hospital. I realize now that it is for any child with special medical needs and not just extremely sick children. I look forward to getting my first call from there and getting a chance to speak with a specialist about everything that my beautiful Dax is going to need to grow happy, healthy and strong. And I look forward to giving him all those things. From what the pediatrician (who is not an expert in these things) has said. His abnormal vertebrae can likely be fixed through surgery and it is not affecting him at all right now. Essentially, it is likely to cause something like severe scoliosis later in life. Can't wait to talk to a specialist to find out our specific plan of action!

This is my family. A year ago when Matt and I decided we wanted another baby, we never expected our little family of 3 to become 5. We never expected to have 3 boys. We never expected to be preemie parents. And we never expected that one of our children would ever need to be referred to Shriners hospital. However, this is where we are. I am so grateful for the fact that my little family of 3 is now a not so little family of 5! I am so grateful that my boys, who entered this world way before they needed to, are growing and getting healthier day by day. I would give anything to take all the pain and trauma my boys have endured away. But I am so grateful that they have endured it and are beating it day by day. My children are the most amazing little beings I have ever met and I could not imagine my life being any different!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

They're growing so fast, before we know it they are going to be "newborns" graduating from the NICU!

I got to hold both of the boys together for the first time today!

The boys are getting huge! As of 8/10 Daxton weighed in at 3lb, 6.4oz and Trev at 3lb, 4.4oz. It is interesting to look at them now and think, "My goodness, they are getting soooo big!" Then I think about it and realize that they are still so tiny and less than half the size Athan was at birth (7lb, 3oz.)

Trevyn Update

Last I updated, Trev was getting an MRI for an enlarged ventricle. I am very happy to report that the MRI came back showing that everything is normal!!! While his left ventricle is larger than the right, they are both still within normal parameters and of no concern, though we will still continue to monitor it in the upcoming head ultrasounds. That being said, I looked up some information about people who are dominant with the left side of their brain and found this...

Yesterday in the early morning the Dr. took Trev off of the Oxygen... completely! It was quite exciting! My sweet little boy did so well for so long. However, by about 5am this morning he decided he was a little tired of doing all the breathing work on his own and they needed to give him the nasal cannula once more to keep his O2 saturation levels good. We will try again in a few days.
And now I will leave you with a video of Dax enjoying his zoogie (pacifier)!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Rollercoaster Continues!

I got a nice cuddle with both of my little ones today. Always makes my heart smile when I see how strong and inspirational they are! I can't wait for the day when I can cuddle with both of them at the same time! That day is probably not far off too!

Daxton Update

Now that Dax is off the ventilator, he seems to be breezing through everything! He has been off for almost 3 days now and on the high flow nasal cannula. With the cannula, there are 2 main settings to control, the O2 level of the air and the pressure (L/hr). Dax started out at 5L/hr when he first came off the vent and is now down to 3L/hr with anywhere from 21%-28% O2. So proud of him! The ventilator actually goes through his vocal cords so he cannot make noise while on it. Consequently, it can also damage the vocal cords. Until today I had yet to hear Dax's little voice, but I finally got a little angry growl/wine out of him. It was so sweet! The nurse told me that he has made plenty of noise while I'm not around and his vocal cords are no worse for wear after being on the vent. Yay!

Trevyn Update

Trev is continuing to do well. He has been at 2.5L/hr flow on his nasal cannula with anywhere from 25%-32% O2 for a while and seems to be just fine at that point. Since the boys blood vessels in the brain are so fragile when they are so young, the Dr's order head sonograms periodically to check for any brain bleeds. A few weeks ago, one of the head sonograms showed that one of Trev's ventricles was slightly larger than the other. Nothing too be concerned with immediately but something to keep an eye on. Well, a few days ago, they did a follow-up sono and found the ventricle was a little larger than before. There is no blood around it however,
which is a good thing but it could potentially indicate that there was a brain bleed at some point that went undetected. So, the Dr. ordered an MRI which Trev got to go on a field trip out of the NICU for today. We should know the results tomorrow and hopefully it turns out to be nothing!!!

Tomorrow would have marked the 32 weeks gestation point! Time flies! Here are some new pictures from today of the boys with their ducky and teddy. Remember, Dax is with the Duck and Trev with the Teddy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ducky and Teddy

So, as I may have mentioned in one of my first blogs, the first time I met the boys, before we had names for them, they were given the nicknames of Ducky and Teddy. These nicknames stem from the little gold sticker that secured their temperature monitor onto their tiny little bodies (pictured above). Dax had the Ducky, Trev had the Teddy. I hated the idea of referring to them as "Baby A" and "Baby B" but was still not ready to settle on their names yet, so Ducky and Teddy it was! Ducky soon became Daxton and Teddy became Trevyn. Now we have Daxton Ducky and Trevyn Teddy! I can't wait to scream "Go Ducky, Go Teddy!" at a soccer game when they are 12!

Well, I wanted to get a stuffed animal to take pictures of them next to as they grow so we would have a reference to see their progress. So, naturally I decided I needed a Ducky and a Teddy for their pictures. As I looked around, my requirements were that the stuffed animals were similar in size at around 12", similar in style, could be easily cleaned, and cute! This proved more difficult than I expected! It took me a while but I eventually found some I liked, they were just a bit bigger than I had hoped at about 15".

Now that I have the animals, I will be posting weekly update pictures of the boys with their animals respectively. That is, the Ducky will always be with Dax and the Teddy will always be with Trev. These first pictures are from 7/27. Enjoy!

My little boys are becoming babies more and more with every day. It is so amazing to watch! It is pretty interesting when I hold them to think that they are supposed to still be in my tummy and to think that this is what they would look like regardless if they were still there. There would have been two perfect little human beings in there growing, BIG! Every time they kick a leg I wonder, "Would that have been my bladder, or a rib, or eachother??!" I would have gladly welcomed every wonderful kick despite the discomfort I'm sure they would have caused.

A bit on Kangaroo Care...
Kangaroo Care - a technique practiced on newborn, usually preterm, infants wherein the infant is held, skin-to-skin, with an adult.

I have been getting a lot of opportunities to get my skin to skin cuddles with Trevyn over the past few weeks and have read a lot about the benefits. Interestingly, the benefits of Kangaroo Care were discovered by accident in a NICU in Bogota, Colombia. Due to limited funding, the NICU did not have enough isolettes for all the babies and in order to keep the babies temperature stable, the mommy would hold the baby skin to skin on her chest. They have since discovered the trend that generally, babies who receive kangaroo care are have fewer infections, gain weight faster, maintain more stable oxygen levels and are discharged sooner. While reading about the benefits I found one thing in particular very intriguing. A study found that, during kangaroo care, when a babies temperature would decrease, the mothers would subsequently increase to make up for the drop and thus giving the baby the extra heat they needed to warm up to a proper temp again. The bond between mother and child truly is amazing!!!

While I had ample opportunity to care for Trev this way, I was definitely lacking in my chances to really get that bonding time with Dax due to his ventilator and the fear he may extubate(remove the tube) himself while being taken out of his isolette. Only a few brave nurses were comfortable with the idea.
The main reason Dax was still on the ventilator was because he was having oxygen desaturations and bradycardia (drop in heart rate) that were so severe that he would lose all his color and almost have a grey tone to his flesh (bad and scary!). The ventilator was able to give him manual breaths when this occurred that allowed him to pretty quickly recover. However, as of 8/1 at 10am (38 hours and counting!) Dax was extubated and has been doing very well since. While on the vent he was having 1-2 bad color changing episodes a day. Since being extubated, he has not had a single one! I guess his severe bradycardia was his way of throwing a fit and saying "get this thing out of my trachea!!" He went from the ventilator straight to the nasal cannula which is the same machine his brother is on! He completely skipped the Si-Pap and CPAP machines and so far has not needed to step back to them. I'm so proud of him! Immediately after he got the tube out, he found his fingers and started sucking away at them! He must have been waiting so long to do that! Now, he loves his pacifier! Here is Dax showing off his new breathing gear! So proud of him!!
Along with yesterdays surprise of Daxton being extubated, my parents got a great surprise as well! The nurse let them both hold Trev! It was a great moment for all of us and my parents were, of course, very proud Grandparents!

My boys are really starting to chub up now! As of last night, August 1, Daxton weighed in at 2lb, 13.4 oz and Trevyn was 2lb, 12.6oz. they are going to be 3 lbs each before we even know it! I can't wait to pull out one of Athan's favorite outfits from when he was first born! I know my family missed this one!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Long overdue update...

Wow, life is crazy and I don't know where the last 8 days went, let alone the last 4 weeks!! That's right, the boys are 4 weeks old today!!!

Life has been so crazy that I have gotten way behind on my updates... I'm going to attempt to update Dax's progress to date and then Trev's. We'll see how this works...

Dax Update

So, last I updated, Dax had been taken off the ventilator. Unfortunately, he was off of it for only 2 days before his O2 desaturations became too frequent and too severe.

On Monday, 7/18 Matt and I got to the hospital and went in to wash up before seeing our babies. As I open up my sterile sponge, I always
look through the window into the NICU room where the boys are just to make sure everything is calm. It usually is, which always calms my nerves a bit. However, this time they had Dax's isolette open with the Dr, his nurse and the respiratory therapist all standing around him. Then I noticed another nurse see me and go over
to talk to the Dr. I knew something wasn't right... The Dr. then came out to inform me that they needed to reintubate Dax and we should come back in a half hour. I can't describe the feeling at that moment more than just to say that it sucked. Matt and I spent some time in the cafeteria for a while before going back up. During that time I kind of kept myself just a step to the side of sanity as a coping mechanism. When we got back up to the NICU Dax was on the ventilator
again and comfortably snuggled into his bed again. There were blankets from his bed still on the ground and it was obvious that they had to do a little scrambling shortly before we had gotten there. A very scary thought and I can't imagine how I would have felt had I been there at that time.

Since he has had so much lung issues for 4 weeks now, the Dr. has classified it as chronic lung disease (CLD) which is definitely a scary thing to think about. However, the nurse gave us some information on it which talks about the potential long term risks including asthma, more severe colds, and a heightened sensitivity to smoke and air pollution among many other things. Then at the end of the form it explains that many preemies with CLD grow up to have perfectly healthy lungs in the long run. We're staying positive and hoping for the best!

Since Dax had such a rapid decrease in O2 that day, Dr. Jain ordered a chest x-ray (check lungs for any abnormalities), blood tests (check for infection) and an ECHO (maybe a PDA issue like Trev had). From all the results we learned that he did not have a PDA. Yay! But it did look like he had a lot of fluid in his lungs and possibly an infection. Which meant he had to stop his feedings for a while and take diuretics as well as antibiotics. He was doing so well gaining weight and this was definitely a setback (he actually lost a little).
Dax getting his ECHO

Currently Dax is still on the vent and likes to simply decide not to breath every once in a while. At this point I have simply accepted it and stopped hating it. It's helping him to stay healthy and it is what he needs, therefore it's a good thing.

Since he had some fluid build up in his lungs, the Dr. started him on continuous feeds as opposed to every 3 hours. He is currently getting 6cc's every hour, 144cc's every 24 hours.

As of last night, Dax weighed a whopping 2lb, 9 oz!!! Though he did have a major diaper blowout shortly after his weight was taken, so I imagine he is a little lower....

Trevyn Update

I believe the word used by the Dr. the other day to describe Trev was "Gangbusters"... Dr. Jain always has an interesting way of saying things... She was referring to his progress and how well he is doing.

His breathing has been good and he is still just on the nasal cannula. He is now getting 24cc's every 3 hours, 192 cc's every 24 hours and he weighs about 2lb, 10oz! He even is starting to develop a little chub in his cheeks!

They did a head sonogram the other day and found that one ventricle is a little larger than the other. This is most likely nothing of concern and it's just a result of natural asymmetry in the body. We will be repeating a head sono in a few weeks to make sure it doesn't continue to get larger (could imply a brain bleed).
Look at Trev's chubby cheeks!

And, just for good measure, let's take a look at what I can expect x3 in about 2 years...
Athan loves his corn!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good News!

Lot's of good things going on in the past few days!

First off, Dax is off the ventilator! Wahoo! And it's official, Dax is a little Matt clone!
He has been off the ventilator for 2 days now and so far is doing well though his O2 saturation
is a little all over the place (to be expected). His CO2 and blood pH have both been good so far. It is like looking at a whole new baby now. We finally got to see his mouth which we hadn't gotten a look at because of the ventilator equipment. So cute! He looks so much more comfortable now too. With the ventilator he always used to scrunch his eyes and wrinkle his forehead with a look of discomfort. Since the ventilator was removed, I haven't seen that anymore. I was even there when they did a heal prick (similar to the finger prick they do to check you for anemia when you donate blood) and he didn't even flinch!

Trev got his last dose of the Indocid for the open duct in his heart at 5pm on Saturday and they did a follow up ECHO yesterday and it was closed! Yay! Now it has to stay closed this time!

Matt finally got a chance to hold Trev on Saturday as well! Trev really enjoys being held and behaved himself quite nicely.
Yesterday, I got to hold Dax again! But this time I actually got to hold him. As in hold my baby,
not hold 10 blankets with my baby inside of them. It was wonderful! However, Dax generally does not like to be bugged and his O2 Saturation did not stay steady enough while I was holding him so he had to go back into his little bed pretty quickly.
We've heard Trev's sweet little cry quite a few times now. It was hard the first few times to hear it because he was crying due to pain (a needle poke or tape being removed). However, he is showing us his demanding little personality a bit more now! He has been getting fed breast milk through a tube for quite a few days now and when he was being treated with Indocid they had to hold his feedings for 36 hours. He has a little pacifier, not only to comfort him, but to keep the O2 from his CPAP machine actually in his lungs instead of going in his nose and then straight out his mouth. Well, the other day his O2 saturation was a bit low and he was, of course, catching flies again. So, I found his pacifier and tried putting it in his mouth and he kept pushing it out. I didn't want to keep bugging him with it so I stopped trying. Then he got mad and started crying! He wanted his pacifier back! I gave it to him and was very happy to accept it because he was hungry!!!!

The weights are in! Dax is now weighing in at 2lb, 3 oz. and Trev at 2lb, 1 oz. They're going to be chubby little babies before we know it!

On an Athan note, he is definitely a 2 year old! His letter magnets have been disappearing over the past 24 hours. This morning Matt found them all! Stuffed in the vent under the refrigerator!! Silly boy!

Friday, July 15, 2011

29 weeks gestational age!

So, the boys gestational age is 29 weeks today! Yay! I can't believe it's already been 17 days and yet so much has happened that I can't believe it's only been 17 days at the same time.

Athan and I took a trip to the chocolate store yesterday and he wanted to send chocolates to his brothers'. I convinced him that it would be best to send them to the nurses instead. They were received quite well! We finally got a picture of Big Brother printed and posted in the boys' isolettes as well. We went for a simple picture of Athan showing his sweet side.

Matt and I got to the hospital after my mom picked up Atahn (Thanks so much for all the help Mom! Matt's parents too!) As we were washing our hands, an echocardiogram tech came in and we heard him say " Is it the Marshall baby or the *insert some other last name* baby for the PDA?" Can you say confidentiality FAIL??? Now, the confidentiality of what exactly is going on medically with my baby is not my first priority. However, I would like to get my updates from my babies bedside while talking to their nurse or Dr. Not from the hallway in the entrance area from some tech with a loud mouth. Irritating!!!

Anyhow... As I mentioned back in this post their is a potential for a duct in their heart to remain open after birth. A sign that a duct is open or has reopened is the sound of a murmur when the nurse/Dr. listens to their heart. Since a few days after the boys were born, we heard no murmurs. However, yesterday morning, Trevyn's nurse heard a murmur and the Dr. confirmed it. Thus, they needed Mr. loudmouth tech to come check it out. The echo did confirm that Trev's ductus had reopened to a moderate size. : ( This just sometimes happens unfortunately. The Dr. is trying to get it to reclose on it's own with a few changes to Trev's current care. First off, both boys are now getting 14cc's of breast milk (yay!!!) which is enough nutrition for their weight that the Dr. was able to take Trev off of the TPN (total peripheral nutrition) IV. Sometimes the increased fluid can cause the ductus to reopen and removing that extra fluid can help it to close again. Then we took a step back in the respiratory department and went back to the nCPAP machine. This machine gives a bit more pressure into the lungs thus expanding them more and subsequently putting more pressure on the heart hopefully helping the ductus close. Fingers crossed that this will work! I do not want to have to resort to drugs and definitely not surgery to get this thing closed!

((UPDATE since writing this part: They have decided to start Trev on Indocid which is the medicine to help treat the PDA. He will be done with the treatment in about 36 hours and we will do another endocardiogram then with hopes that the PDA has closed.))

As for Dax, he is chugging along same as usual. We still have the ventilator in and he is still being stubborn about weaning off of it. He has the ventilator set to give him at least 32 breaths per minute and air that is 26-30% Oxygen depending on how he is doing. Normal room air is about 21% O2. When they try and lower the number of breaths he takes, he has been typically D-saturating (O2 levels in blood drop). Otherwise he seems to be hanging in there with no major ups or downs for now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

15 days old with a present for mommy!

(Not sure how I ended up making that paragraph a link and can't figure out how to undo it... oh well)

Yesterday, after leaving the hospital I felt so disheartened and helpless. It's really difficult to sit back and watch someone do all the work of taking care of your baby and getting such little opportunity to be involved beyond cupping your hand on their head or tummy.

However, when I went in to visit this morning I got a great surprise! It was time to clean the boys beds and I got to hold each of them!!! YAY! I knew the first time I got to hold them I would cry, and I started to tear up. But I held it together and didn't let myself blubber all over the babies! They were both so precious! I got some great pictures too! Dax just stayed sound asleep in my arms the whole time and was very comfortable. Trev was awake most of the time and just kept trying to see Mommy. Definitely one of the best moments of my life and I have been on cloud 9 all day now!
Mommy and Trev (above)
Mommy and Dax

I'm now hanging out with Big Brother Athan deciding which pictures to print out to have next to his bed so he can say good night to his brothers every night! Lot's of fun watching him try to understand what I'm talking about when I explain his brothers to him. Not quite sure if he gets it or not but hopefully the pictures will help him understand!

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Just got home from visiting the boys with Matt and my parents. Victories for both boys in the last 24 hours!

Trevyn is now consuming about 5cc's of breat milk every 3 hours (we are working our way up to 18cc's). He is now off the ncpap (the one that supplemented his breaths) machine and down another step to a high flow nasal candula which is pretty similar to the kind of oxygen supplementing machine an adult would be on after having a surgery. So now we started on the ventilator, then to ncpap and now high flow nasal candula! Very good progress indeed! We can almost see his full face at one time now!

Dax is still currently on the ventilator but has made progress towards getting off of it. He was on an oscillating ventilator that gave him very rapid short breaths to help keep his alveoli open and O2 levels high. However, this machine didn't allow the CO2 to escape very well. Thy have changed it to a machine that mimics natural breaths now which has helped lower his CO2. We are now just working the settings on the ventilator down until they are confident enough that he won't have to be re-intubated.

Not sure why Dax's pic came up larger than Trev's... hmmm... will need to get a bigger one of Trev up soon.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Catching up on the past 11 days...

The night of the boys birth was an exhausting one in every sense of the word. The twins were immediately taken into the NICU to begin hooking them up to all the machines and I was taken into recovery. Still sleep deprived and on many drugs, I don't remember much of the rest of the night. I could not see my babies yet until I was off my anesthesia and able to walk around, not to mention I still hadn't showered since swimming in Whiskeytown Lake and that was a must before seeing my boys.

Matt was able to go in and see the boys at around 9pm that night. He was scared to see them and I was scared for him. Neither of us knew what to expect... We both expected to see very sickly looking babies that could fit into the palm of our hand. It seemed as though going to see them just made the whole experience so real. But they needed us and we needed to be brave for them. He stayed in there with the boys for about 2 hours getting all sorts of information from the NICU nurses about what would be happening over the next few days. When Matt came back he had our babies footprints and pictures to show me. I was surprised at how developed they were. They were much bigger than we expected, even at only about 2lb each. Now, I couldn't wait to go see them! However, I was still stuck in bed.

Matt and I were both very exhausted. He decided to come home to attempt a good night sleep and I would do the same. However, neither of us were successful. Matt just couldn't sleep and I woke up in the middle of the night nauseous and very overheated, despite the 65 degree setting in my room. hormones!!!

We made it through the night and into the next day. We enjoyed a few visitors and I was finally able to be taken off my IVs and take a shower. However, I had to take pain medication and was given Norco. I had the choice of 1 or 2 and the first time I decided to take 2, even though I hate the idea of taking them at all. The 2 Norco made me rather loopy and I hated it! There was no way I was going to meet my boys for the first time while I was so loopy. I waited a bit for them to wear off. Finally, in the early evening I got to meet my boys along with my Mom. It's an interesting feeling to meet your babies for the first time and not be able to hold or comfort them. I, of course, immediately fell in love with them.

I spent an hour or so just going from one isolette (bed) to another and talking with the nurses and Neonatologist about the machines my boys were on and what sorts of things they were looking out for.

That night, on much less drugs and able to process what had happened over the past 48 hours, I finally was able to just sit down and have a good cry. I sure needed it! It all became so real at that point and I hated that my precious little boys had to go through this ordeal and I was and still am so worried about them and their stress levels and health. I know these next few months are going to be hard!

Our first goal was to get both boys off the ventilators. Since the ventilator tubes go into their lungs it is very intrusive and thus has a high risk of infection, stress and also a pneumothorax (air in the cavity around the lungs). As of today, Trevyn is off of the ventilator and on an ncpap machine which supplements his breaths. So far he is doing fairly well with that. Dax is still on the ventilator and we are waiting for his blood gases (CO2 mainly) to normalize as they were high last night and also for the MAP (mean airway pressure) settings to be low for longer periods of time with him still remaining stable. Basically, the ventilator pumps pressure into his lungs to keep his alveoli (air sacs in lungs) from collapsing. As of this afternoon, his MAP was set at 9 and we want it at 7 for an extended period of time before he gets to come off the ventilator. We're hoping soon!

Another concern in the first few days is Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). Basically, a fully mature heart has a left and right side. One side pumps blood only to the lungs and the other side pumps oxygenated blood to the body. However, when a baby is in the womb they do not need the blood to go to their lungs because the oxygen is provided by the placenta. Therefore, babies in the womb have an extra duct that connects the left and right side that allows blood to forgo being pumped through the lungs. For full term babies, this duct almost always closes upon birth. However, with preemies it sometimes does not close properly leading to medicine (which has side effects) and if the medicine doesn't work, surgery. When they were born, Dax had a small PDA and Trev's was a bit larger. As of an echocardiogram that was done about 4-5 days ago, Dax's PDA was completely closed and Trev's had gotten significantly smaller. Yay! It is expected that Trev's will and likely already has closed. There is always a chance for the PDA to reopen after it has closed, but it is a very good sign in the right direction!

The boys get blood draws often to check their blood gas levels among other things. A few nights after they were born, Matt and I were spending some time in the NICU with them and I lookover and Dax's skin had gotten extremely pale. The nurse noticed it too. She was concerned about it but not panicking. So, I tried not to panic as well, but it terrified me! When the neonatologist had a moment away from another baby, she pointed it out to her. The Dr. said that he probably needed a blooded transfusion and I started crying. i hated that my 2-3 day old baby was needing a blood transfusion. It's a pretty common thing to need a blood transfusion for a baby so small since they are not good yet at making new blood cells and the smallest amount of blood drawn is a lot to them. I spoke with the Dr. the next day who told me she calculated and they had only drawn 3/4oz. since the twins were born about 3 days prior. Later in the night it was determined that Trev needed a transfusion as well. Apparently there are specific donors for babies and every time a preemie needs blood, they get it from the same donor. No blood banks in the redding area are set up to receive blood for babies so it was driven up from Sacramento and they had it by morning. And Daxton's color was much more normal!

Approximately 2 days after they were born they needed to be given Sodium Acetate which is an electrolyte. This was the only kind they could be given without affecting the other salts in their system. Unfortunately, there is currently a national shortage of Sodium Acetate and the hospital they are at did not have any. Sodium Acetate is not some fancy high tech medical solution. In fact most people who have taken a chemistry class with a lab have likely used it in some experiment and there are actually directions for how to make it online. Of course, we needed medical grade and I couldn't just brew up a batch.

The first step was to start calling other hospitals and pharmacies to try and obtain some. The boys Dr. spent hours that day trying to track some down. A lot of places had it in small quantities and would not give it up for my boys because of the shortage. by early evening it was looking like the only option would be to transfer my boys from Mercy Medical in Redding to UC Davis medical in Sacramento. They would need to be transferred by plane or helicopter due to their fragile state. So, basically, we almost had to move my boys, who are very easily stressed out, on a helicopter, a 2.5 hour drive from where we live just for a stupid salt. Really America?? We are a place that can build some of the most high tech weaponry for war but we can't provide enough salt? Unbelievable.

Just as the Dr. was getting ready to begin the transport process, Enloe Medical Center came through for us and sent all the Sodium acetate they had in stock for my boys. Thank you so much Enloe!

As I mentioned in the birth story, there was an infection that led to preterm labor. In a case like this it is important to find out exactly what the bacteria was that caused the infection so it can be treated properly. Typically it is determined within a day or two, but now we are 11 days since the boys birth and we still do not know. Therefore we are not even 100% sure we are treating it right. Frustrating! There is also a chance, depending on what the bacteria is when we find out that Dax will need a spinal tap to make sure that the infection did not get into his spinal cord. Positive thoughts that we do not need to put him through that!

Dax has his eyes open and Trev's have just started opening as of yesterday. It is so precious to see them try and look around (though they don't really have vision yet). They are perfectly beautiful little boys and I simply cannot wait to be able to take them home. Only 2-3 more months! : (

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Birth Story - part 2

After being admitted into the hospital, Matt needed to find someone to take care of Athan so he could come over. Lucky for us, we have amazingly supportive families and were able to get ahold of Matt's parents quickly. They drove up and picked up Athan for the night.

Just before hooking me up to all the IVs it the nurse told the Dr. I was contracting every 2 minutes! not good.

They decided to do an ultrasound to check on the babies location so they could more easily monitor them and also to check on how dilated I actually was. The ultrasound showed strong heartbeats from both of my boys, and yes it showed they were still both boys! It also confirmed what the Dr. had said, that I was 3cm dilated. One other thing it showed was that my water was actually already being pushed out through my cervix. Basically, if you think of what a water balloon looks like if you squeeze it but don't break it, that sort of hourglass shape it takes. That is what was going on with my water through my cervix. Not good!

As I said before they placed me on more IVs and stabbed me more times than I can remember. I recall the following medications:

Magnesium Sulfate: This served to inhibit labor and also to protect my babies neuro development and blood vessels. It was given through an IV drip and was supposed to relax my uterus and as a side effect completely relaxed every muscle in my body to where I felt a little jello like. They had to monitor my magnesium levels in my blood and took blood samples every 4 hours. Every time, stabbing me with a new needle. When all was said and done I counted at least 10 needle holes in my left arm from blood draws.

Beta-Methazone: A steroid shot (in my butt!) that was given to me for the babies. This is intended to boost the babies lung development. It is given twice when in preterm labor, 24 hours apart and the goal is to make it 48 hours from the first shot before the babies are born so they can receive the full benefits. I made it about 24 hours. Not ideal, but better than nothing.

A shot of something that helped to keep my blood pressure from dropping too low (it got so low at one point that I became nauseous and sick.)

Some pill they kept giving me to stop preterm labor. Don't remember the name...

A shot in my arm to stop preterm labor. Again, not sure of the name.

hmmmm... I am sure there were more IV drips involved though I don't recall what they were or even much about the 24 hours following my hospital admission.

Matt arrived at the hospital and they had a nurse from the NICU come talk to us a little about premature babies and how the first few days would go. One specific thing she pointed out was that preemies tend to have a "honeymoon" period for a few days after they are born. That is, once the initial issues of being born at 26 weeks are taken care of immediately after birth, they tend to have 2-3 days where things are fairly smooth sailing and then problems begin to occur.

By the time the NICU nurse was done speaking with us, my contractions had become so intense that I could no longer talk through them and had to really begin concentrating on my breathing techniques. Oddly, I was actually having the perfect labor experience that I wanted with Athan where I experienced all the different stages and could reflect between contractions. However, this was very much the opposite of a perfect labor experience. Had I gone through this at full term I would have almost enjoyed the progression of pain and the act of the "hee-hee-hoo" breathing. Now, every contraction I felt seemed to just seal the fate that my boys were not waiting. Every single one of them had me more and more worried... They sucked, and hurt. Worst off, they were not slowing down despite the best attempt with all the meds. The pain had gotten so intense and I was so stressed that I decided to get an epidural in hopes that it would calm me down enough to slow contractions. It did!

So , now I add epidural to the list of drugs. My contractions are beginning to go from 2-3 minutes apart, now as long as 9-10 minutes apart. And no pain!

When a woman is in labor, they stick all sorts of monitors on her to keep an eye on the babies heart rate. Since my babies were so small, the nurses had a hard time getting them on the monitor and beyond that, keeping them on the monitor. They had so much space in my uterus still so they were moving all over the place. Therefore, the full night of the 27th/morning of the 28th was spent playing chase the babies in my tummy. Thus, absolutely no sleep for me! On top of all the meds I was on, paired with the sleep deprivation, I was becoming a little crazy. Matt spent whole night attempting to sleep on the couch which turned out to be rather unsuccessful for him as well.

By noon on the 28th, the epidural was working really well on the pain in my abdomen and back from contractions, but not so well on my cervix pain. Every contraction (still luckily 7-10 minutes apart) was still quite painful, but manageable. Since I was placed with my head angled downward, the epidural was having a hard time fully affecting my lower body. My epidural was set at 8 (not sure what the measurement was) where as most women in labor are set at 12. Because I was angled on my head, if we turned the epidural up my BP would drop significantly and it was already very low (as low as 70/35ish).

From this point on during the day I spent in bed, managing pain and waiting for a sign of my water breaking, which I expected at any second. They would not check my cervix because my water was so bulging and they did not want to risk rupturing the membrane thus sending me into an immediate c-section. So, I had not clue as to how labor was or was not progressing. I kept thinking I felt a small gush of fluid and every time they checked it was blood and not my water. Good thing it wasn't my water breaking, but it did confirm that my cervix was dilating more. (When a woman's cervix dilates, small blood vessels break and cause bleeding.)

Along with the bleeding, baby A (now Daxton) was very low in my abdomen. Leaving me to believe that he was ready to come out!

After a short time, I began to be more concerned with the bleeding and how heavy it was getting. I knew that this much blood was more than just small amounts of dilation. I was just waiting for my OB Dr. to close his office and come check on how things had progressed.

Around 545pm on Tuesday, my OB came to check on me and saw the amount of blood and immediately decided that it was likely that I had become almost fully dilated and given how low Dax was, it was likely that he was actually starting to descend through the birth canal.

My OB checked me and confirmed that his suspicions were correct. : (

Time for a c-section. We had made it just under 24 hours from my initial admittance into the hospital and it was time for my boys very early arrival.

Things moved very quickly after this. They immediately changed my epidural settings to prepare me for surgery (maybe even changed the medication, not just dose. not sure) We were told that Matt would not be able to be present in the delivery room with 5 Dr's performing the surgery on me (including the anesthesiologist) and 6 NICU nurses per baby totalling 17 Dr's and nurses. There simply was not enough room. However, once the surgery room was set up and the anastesia all ready, they asked me if I would like him in there and I, of course, said yes. Luckily he got to be by my side while our little angels were born.

Getting a c-section is a very interesting experience. While you can feel absolutely no pain, you can feel pressure from touch. So I was able to feel the pressure of the scalpel and everything. Dax was so low in my uterus that there was not much work needed to get him out. Trev on the other hand was still up towards the top of my rib cage. So, from the pressure I could feel, they pretty much had to reach in and pull him out. We expected silence when they were born since they were so premature and their lungs were not fully developed. However, for both boys we are graced with a very light but audible gurgling sound. It was not that of a full term baby but it was something. Truly one of the most wonderful noises I have ever heard.

Dax was born first at 6:26pm and Trev followed at 6:28pm. The nurses immediately went to work hooking them up to ventilators and all of the wonderful medical equipment that is keeping them alive and healthy now.

My OB Dr. spoke to me afterwards and informed me that I in fact had an infection in my amniotic fluid which is what led to the preterm labor. Apparently this is something that just happens sometimes and they don't usually know why. It seems that I somehow got a tiny pinhole prick on the amniotic sack which introduced some sort of bacteria. Crappy luck, but it is what it is and now I had no desire to dwell on what had happened and it was time to look forward to the journey that lies ahead and to be strong for my boys!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Birth Story - part 1

Here is my attempt to recount the 48 hours that led up to Dax and Trev's birth. I was in the hospital on at least 10 different drugs, extremely sleep deprived and not to mention, a little stressed. Therefore, the details are a bit fuzzy... we'll see what I can do!

I suppose it all starts with a little information on the birth of Big Brother Athan. With Athan, I never felt Braxton-Hicks contractions or early labor. At 5 days past due I woke up at 1230am with severe intense pains that quickly become more frequent, more severe and more intense. I was at the hospital within 2 hours of waking up and had dilated to 6cm, then quickly to 8 after that. Then, the dilation stopped and Athan never dropp
ed resulting in a c-section.

Because my only experience with labor was intense, quick and sever pain, I had no idea what early labor felt like. I just expected if I were going into labor, I would know it! It would hurt! A lot!

Fast forward 2 years... Athan's 2nd birthday. I spent a few hours the night before making snacks and getting things ready. We woke up and thing
s were going as planned. Though I did question Matt as to why the most uncomfortable day of my pregnancy to date had to be Athan's Birthday?? I kept feeling a really uncomfortable pressure on my bladder that felt like one of the twins was situated in a way that kept pressing on it. I chalked it up to that as I felt no pain and just discomfort, commonplace during pregnancy.

We went to Whiskeytown Lake and had a great day with family enjoying Athan's big #2!! Good food and good fun! Every once in a while one of those twins would give me that pressure on my bladder again, uncomfortable but not painful. "This is going to be a long pregnancy.." was what I thought to myself of the discomfort... ha... Then, it hit me... oh, these must be Braxton Hicks contractions! No regularity that I could find, no pain, didn't seem to be getting more intense... that's what they were! I was so relieved to discover why I kept feeling uncomfortable.

Athan's party drew to a close and we came home. Suddenly the discomfort began to turn into a slight pain... hmmm... I decided I better start timing these BH contractions to make sure there is not regularity. They varied anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes. not really regular, but they were definitely concerning me by this point. Time to call the Dr.

At about 6pm I got the Dr. on call and explained what was happening and she said I better come in just to make sure it wasn't preterm labor. "Of course it's not" was what I thought as I drove myself to the hospital so Matt could stay home with Athan. We both figured I'd be home before midnight...

I got checked in to labor and delivery and just sat around for a bit. Until the Dr. and nurses got to me. They hooked up my belly to the monitors and the babies sounded great! Strong heartbeats and they were wiggling all over the place! good news! However, the node that monitored contractions was definitely coming up with pulses. These pulses gave no indication of whether or not they were BH or real contractions. Shortly after the Dr. came in to check what was happening. As she checked me and gave the report to the nurse she said "3cm dilated, soft cervix and bulging bag of water... I do not like this." That's when things got scary...

They immediately started fussing over me... I was put into Tren-delenburg, meaning my bed was angled downward so I was on my head, I was put on more IV drips than I can remember and they started poking me with needles, a lot!

The Dr. told me I would be admitted and I would stay there until my babies were born. "Yikes, I guess I'm going to be working from bed and on head for a few months..." was what I thought...

In all the commotion I finally found a chance to call Matt to tell him he needed to come to the hospital. It was the hardest thing to have to say that out loud to him and brought the whole situation to realization. I was terrified... but this was a good hospital with good medicine, good Dr's and good nurses. They had to be able to stop labor, right?

More to come later, time for breakfast...