Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Muddle of Ups and Downs

Yesterday morning I got a call from the NICU telling me that they were taking Mikaela for an echocardiogram because has a heart murmur and was breathing fast. (Ugh, what a crummy phone call.)

The test went fine, and they said that the murmur was nothing to be too concerned about it. I guess they are common in premies and that they typically resolve themselves. They don't know why she was breathing funny, but she is back to normal now. (Sigh of relief.)

Autumn would not take her eyes of Mikaela all through the test. I wonder if there is something to that special connection that twins are supposed to have. It was really touching to see her concern. (So sweet!)

Mikaela was retested for MRSA and it came back negative. (YAY!) However, they won't lift the precautions until she has three negative tests, so she still cannot have any contact with her sister, and if I have any skin contact with her, I cannot touch Autumn again until I go home and shower. (So frustrating!)

I have successfully breast fed each girl! They both know how to latch and drink well, and it is so great to see that their newborn instincts are intact. (Way to go, girls!) I really want to try feeding them together, but because of the MRSA precautions I will have to wait until I get them home to do this. (Grr.)

Both girls are gaining wait really well. Mikaela is 4 lb 11 oz, and Autumn is a whopping 5 lb 11 oz. (Hooray!) Now they just need to get more consistent with their feedings. Sometimes they eat really well, and other times they don't seem to have the stamina to eat much, and we end up tube feeding them. This is our last big obstacle we have to overcome before they can come home. I really look forward to having my whole family together! (Trying to remain patient....)

We bought a minivan! We now have a vehicle big enough to fit all three of our kids. A huge thank you to Jay Slingerland for getting us a great deal and helping us have such a positive experience. Anyone in the Owosso area should check out his dealership. (Yay for good people!)

I guess there is more good news than bad, which is good. (Yay!)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

...and one step back...

I have been repeatedly told that the NICU experience is an intricate dance of "two steps forward, one step back." After what has been a steady march forward for the past week, I guess we were due for a hiccup.

During a routine nasal swab, Mikaela tested positive for MRSA. The doctors reassured me that she does not have a MRSA infection, merely the presence of MRSA (it is a colonization, not an infection). It could be nothing. Since she does not have an IV or any open wounds, the chance of it entering her bloodstream is very small. They must realize, however, that you cannot tell a mom that her tiny premature baby is testing positive for something like this without making her worry.

What does this mean? She will be bathed with a special soap for 5 days and given an ointment in her nose to kill the colony. It also means that she cannot have any contact with her sister, and I cannot go back and forth between the two. Anyone who comes in contact with her must wear a gown and gloves, then wash thoroughly. The chair and table next to her incubator are now marked "dirty - MRSA." What a crappy 2-week birthday present.

I deeply hope that this will be an annoying inconvenience and nothing else.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Update on the Baby Girls

When I arrived in the NICU today, I was shocked to discover that they had opened the lids to both girls' incubators. Wow, what a great step forward! We'll see how well they tolerate it and if they are able to maintain their own body heat.

They have each started taking some milk by mouth - another important step in their ability to leave the NICU. Autumn, perhaps in a moment of over confidence, pulled out her feeding tube. I reminded her that she needed to keep that in until she had mastered eating. I'm not sure that she understood me.

They are now wearing regular clothes and swaddling in blankets like regular old babies. It is so nice to see them like that! Autumn is now 4 lbs 9 oz and Mikaela is 3 lb 13 oz. Keep growing strong, girls!

Snuggling together
Such tiny fingers!
I've been splitting my days, and spending the mornings with Zander then the afternoon/early evening in the NICU with the girls.

I was playing outside with Zander the other day when he picked up a rock and discovered a worm underneath it. He watched it crawling and commented on how it was wiggling slowly. This was the conversation I had with my very literal son:

Me: Can you wiggle like a worm?
Z: Um... I think so...
Me: (waiting) Well, can you show me?
Z: Uh... okay... (hesitating) Here I go ....

He then lay face down in the mud next to the worm and started wiggling. Oh man, I have to be careful how I phrase things with him!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The girls are here!

Late Tuesday night (March 8), after a dramatic emergency c-section (let's just say I am very grateful I was in the hospital), our beautiful little girls came into the world kicking and screaming at 32 weeks 2 days. 

Mikaela Jaise was born at 11:43 pm 
3 lb 6 oz, 16.5 inches
Autumn Willow was born at 11:44 pm
4 lb 5 oz, 17 inches 

Mikaela has been breathing room air since the beginning, and Autumn has been getting some help from the CPAP machine. 

These are the cute decorations that the NICU nurses made for the girls.

Welcome, baby girls! Keep growing strong!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

32 Weeks!!!

(Big sigh of relief) We have made it to a major milestone, 32 weeks pregnant (the point at which survival and disability rates greatly improve). I remember when this felt so far away.

So what's the plan now? ... um, no one seems to know. Frankly, I don't think the doctors expected that we would make it this far. So when I asked where we go from here, there was sort of a vague "let's see what happens" response. If things stay just as they are, there is no reason to deliver the girls yet. One doctor said that I might even make it to 36 weeks, and he offhandedly said that then the girls could skip the NICU, stay with me in my room, breast feed right away, and we could all go home together. I think my jaw actually dropped. Another doctor got squirmy at this and said we should focus on trying to get to 34 weeks. I was stunned. We have been bracing ourselves for any number of challenging outcomes, starting back with my first visit from the NICU doctors at 25 weeks, who explained what it would mean to have the girls born so early (in a nutshell, not good). I have accepted that I most likely would not see the girls when they are born as they would be whisked away to the NICU immediately, where they would stay for months. So to think that, after such a crazy pregnancy, there is a possibility that everything could turn out so normal? I feel like I shouldn't even dare hope for that.

So, my new goal is to make it to my birthday with these girls still growing in my belly. On my 35th birthday, I will be 33 weeks and 6 days pregnant. If I go to sleep that night still pregnant, we will have hit the 34 week mark (which is considered "late preterm"). Pretty good birthday wish, I think.

In other news, I have put on just shy of 50 lbs during this pregnancy! Amazing! I am now 1.5x my pre-pregnancy weight. I am one-and-a-half Toris! No wonder it feels like my ribs are trying to split in half.

Good job, little girls. Keep growing strong!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Simplicity of Purpose or Life as a Human Incubator

These past few weeks in the hospital have given me a very simplified way of approaching each day. Essentially, my one purpose right now it to keep the girls safe for as long as I possibly can. It is a strange feeling, knowing that I really only have one goal each day. And every morning that I wake up still pregnant, I have completed my goal for the previous day. It kind of reminds me of when I was on chemo (though that was WAAAAY more crappy) in that my one goal then was to get better. Every day that I got through another treatment or got over another infection brought me one step closer to a healthy outcome.

We are at 31.5 weeks now, so every day I feel a tiny bit less terrified. I realized that I had my first hospitalization at the beginning of December, which means that we've been living with this worry/danger/stress constantly hanging over our heads for three months. Yeah, it hasn't been a very fun pregnancy!

Living in the hospital has given me a deeper understanding of what it feels like to be a two-year-old. As I mentioned in the last post, one of the few things I'm allowed to do is walk across the hall to refill my water cup. So when a thoughtful nurse goes and gets a fresh cup of water for me, I kind of feel like stomping my feet and yelling, "I can do it BY MYSELF!" the way a certain two year old I know does. Most of the time I try to jokingly explain that I have permission to go to the water area so I really look forward to it, but it gets tiresome to explain that every 8 or 12 hours at shift change.

On a happier note, this hospitalization has shown me that we really have become part of a community here. I'm not sure when I stopped thinking of myself as being new in town, but somewhere along the way my family developed a nice group of people who have shown their lovely support through this trying time. Thank you to everyone!