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We are a family of fifteen: eight already with Jesus and seven in desperate need of Him. This is the story God is writing in our lives. Proverbs 16:9

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pics Courtesy of The March of Dimes

The March of Dimes sponsored a picture day in the NICU of parents interacting with their baby (or in our case, babies).  The photographer was a former parent of a preemie.  It was such a blessing!  The most unfortunate thing was that Andrew and Elijah were unable to join us because our hospital nurseries are closed to siblings due to RSV season.  We look forward to the day our big boys are included.  Enjoy!




Sharing the Love

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Prayers for Everyone~ Especially Eliana

So much of life is waiting...  and wondering... and learning to look into the face of Jesus and trust Him, even though everything around us distracts and misleads.  Even when I might doubt His very nature when circumstances are difficult, faith is entrusted as a gift to give me eyes to see His goodness and mercy.  God is for us, not against us.  And God is certainly for these babies and for equipping our family to love them. 

It is been a difficult couple of days.  Our babies have not had many of the anticipated challenges of prematurity as they have spent almost three weeks in the NICU.  Isabella and Isaac continue to amaze us with their growth and now their ability to take bottles before their little brains have the suck, swallow, breathe mechanism in place.  They are both on their way to being 5 pounds.

Eliana has been such a fighter.  God blessed her with strength that helped her make up for the lack of blood supply in the womb and now her lack of size since she has been out.  Monday evening though, Eliana started having trouble keeping her oxygen level up.  Her level would fall and then in response, her respirations would increase.  It was a circular problem~  Tuesday morning after hours of difficulty, the doctor confirmed a low hemoglobin and decided to give her a blood transfusion.  This was something we had anticipated as a possibility since the time the babies were born.  However, Wednesday morning when things should have been getting better, she had not improved that much.  By last night, she was still struggling and the doctor on call did a multitude of tests to rule out something more serious like infection or ineffective breathing.  In short, every test has come back negative.  She shows absolutely no sign of infection and her blood tests show that her body is doing exactly what it is supposed to do.  She was put on oxygen but despite higher levels, she still didn't relax in decreasing her respirations.  This morning, I finally had a clear conversation with one of her docs that finally explained why she is struggling.  He said it is like she has been running a marathon since birth~ one that her little body isn't equipped for.  As of now, she is tired and is reminding us that although she has done so well to this point, she is still a preemie baby and needs help for a bit.  All that she is capable of right now are shallow, quick breaths.

Today, I went to be with all the babies for a while.  I was so thankful to see that after several hours of oxygen, her respirations have decreased.  Even last night while the numbers on her monitor were wavering, I spent time talking to her and was encouraged by her gummy smile.  She was moving around as if nothing was really bothering her.  She kept trying to put the IV port on her hand in her mouth and instead kept whacking herself in the nose!  She has the biggest eyes and as she looks right into mine, I am reminded of all the Lord has brought her~ as well as Isabella and Isaac~ through.  Did I also mention that she is now 3 pounds!  She hit that milestone yesterday as well.  We pray that she will regain the strength she needs to get back to maintaining her oxygen very soon. 

Please continue to pray for our little ones and our big ones.  Andrew and Elijah are ready for life to be more settled and Micah and I totally understand.  It has been trying going back and forth to the hospital.  It is odd; feeling more at home in a hospital waiting room than at our residence because it is where we are all the closest to each other.  I keep praying for patience as our babies grow and bring us closer to the day when we are all home together as a family.  Thank you, reader, for continuing to follow us and share in our lives.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pictures from the Last Two Days

Sweet babies together
Eliana resting her head on Isabella
Isaac saying "No more pictures, Mom!"
First time holding all three babies in two weeks

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Second Week in the NICU

Words like "your babies are doing fantastic" and "they are progressing so well" soothe our souls and bring us to our knees in thanksgiving.  These are comments that Isaac, Eliana, and Isabella's doctors have made to us over the past few days.  They are definitely issues consistent with prematurity, but we are constantly overjoyed at the way God has blessed each of them and in turn, blessed us. 

Much to our surprise, we got a call Saturday morning that our babies were being moved from the NICU to the Continuing Care Nursery. There were several admissions and our babies were the first candidates to be moved since they were in the best health of all their neighbors (insert gasp here:)). The next day, the doctor reported that they were indeed having their PICC lines (IV's) removed.  Since then, every one's jaundice has been resolved and growing and feeding have been the goals of each day.  This means the number of things they are attached to has gone down even more. Isabella and Isaac have been working on maintaining their body temperatures and last night, Isaac weighing in at 3 lbs., 15.2 oz. was moved from his isolette to an open bed!  It is hard to imagine that only a week ago, he was on a ventilator. 
Isaac in His Open Bed
I think he was trying to tell us he was tired of all the picture taking:)
He and Isabella, weighing 4lbs., spend their days in cute little preemie clothes.  Isabella is well on her way to an open bed as well.  She is such a cuddler, but likes to try and escape her Z-Flow bed and pull her NG tube out. 
Micah and his Bella Joy.
Sleeping Beauty
Eliana is gaining weight well.  She now is above her birth weight at 2 lbs., 8 oz. and remains developmentally on track despite her small, yet big for what she has endured, size.  She is still feisty, but always relaxes when we do kangaroo care time.
I think she was trying to tell us something!  I love the look on her face.
Tiny hands~ but formed perfectly.
Andrew and Elijah returned home on Saturday as well.  It was a big day for us!  The nurse helped us wrap the babies up and let the boys see them through the CCN window.  I am so glad they had a good trip to NC, but I am also so glad they are home.  I have been able to do all the things I love~ like sit at the breakfast table with them and make Rice Crispy Treats.  Having my parents here for the weekend and my mom staying throughout this week has been such a blessing for them and for me.  It was so sweet to introduce Papa and Mimi to their three new grandchildren.
The Big Brothers

Mimi and Eliana

Papa with Isaac

Micah and I have enjoyed getting to know each baby.  Their personalities are coming through more and more every day.  We wonder how Andrew and Elijah are going to interact with them when they come home.  Adjusting to having five children with different needs brings us to a familiar place~ relying on God to encourage us in the gospel and bringing us the perserverance we need to love on each child.  We never stop carrying each one to Jesus for his or her particular needs.  We are juggling~ and it is wonderfully exhausting. 
Micah and Me tag-teaming the babies.
Our prayer requests are that we would continue to have the endurance we need for each day.  The girls have had some bradycardia episodes and most of the time they self-correct.  We do pray they grow out of these soon and maintiain their heartrates consistantly.  Thankfully, they have no apnea at this point.  They all are having some reflux and we also pray that resolves.  Overall, they are healthy babies, which brings me to my last request.  All around us, we have seen much sicker babies and families struggling watching their tiny ones fight for life in the NICU.  I ask that you take time to pray for all of them.  We pray God brings them peace and comfort in the midst of such excrutiating difficulty.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Growing Babies!

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.
Psalm 30:11-12

Yesterday, Micah and I danced home from the hospital.  We had such a cared for experience there but were so glad to get home.  Even though it was difficult to leave, there was much to be thankful for~ and the babies couldn't be in better hands.   

Our Nurses Were So Kind:)
It was odd though, our house quiet... each of our five children somewhere else.   It has been a long time since I felt freedom to move and make plans and enjoy the outside!  It feels like the whole world has changed~  Or at least from my perspective for sure. It has taken a bit to let it sink in~ where we have been and what the Lord has done.

God continues to breathe vigorous life into our babies.  Isaac was taken off the ventilator yesterday with no problem.  His nurse also removed an arterial line he had in his belly which made it possible for me to hold him for the first time.  That was also the first time I got to really see his face without tubes occluding his little smile!  He is a cutie with blond hair!
My First Time Holding Isaac

Sweet Boy, Isaac
He squeaks some (reminding me of Andrew as a baby:)) and loves to cuddle.  The doctor is also planning to take him off forced oxygen (room air) through his nasal cannula in the next day.  Isabella and Eliana are also thriving.  They are all three tolerating feedings into their bellies well.  The doctors are increasing the amount they receive every day.  Eliana has already grown up to and past her birth weight and now is at 2 lbs. 5 oz. and Isaac and Isabella are both at 3 lbs. 9 oz..  Since they are getting more than half of what they need from feedings, they each may get to have their PICC lines removed in the next two days.  They have also had brain scans and echo cardiograms and nothing significant has been found thus far.  The babies are progressing so well~ Micah and I did not anticipate such great reports!  It is making me realize that I need to get ready to bring them home even more quickly than we thought!

Daddy and His Eliana Girl

A Cuddly Bella Joy and Mommy Late Last Night

We have had such a wondreful time talking about embryo adoption with the hospital staff.  We think about where these babies were only months ago, frozen in the same building where they now grin and move, bodies warm and fresh and are amazed. 

I spoke with Andrew and Elijah this morning.  They are excited about coming home and the possiblity of the babies coming home in the next few weeks.  Elijah asked if I was able to be up and around which he refers to as "crazy mommy" again!  By God's grace, yes I sure can. 

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Birth Story and Beyond

God has proven to us during the last many months that His timing is perfect over and over again.   

I was getting pretty discouraged at the beginning of this past week~ just not sure how much longer ~for the babies sake and mine.  I was trying to read providence forward, which is impossible.  What, when, how, why was constantly on my mind.  Once again, Micah and I prayed for obvious clarity of direction.  My doctor came to see me early last week and had contacted The Fetal Care Center in Cincinnati as well as the Neonatology department here at this hospital.  It was clear to him that we go ahead and set a date for delivery for February 13 and we were comfortable with that timing.  Apparently babies diagnosed with TTTS are at much higher risk for things going wrong in-utero verses being born premature at 32 weeks gestation...  So there was the light at the end of the tunnel and I geared up for 9 more days of bed rest.

Friday the 3rd was a typical hospital kind of day.  Medications, monitoring, eating, and napping were on the agenda.  I spent some time with a church friend who helped me knit little hats for the babies.  It has been a delight to have visitors.  Micah went to work and the boys were with his parents who had driven up from North Carolina.  I have had wonderful nurses although a couple have seemed intimidated by finding three heartbeats that can be monitored uninterrupted.  My nurse on Friday wasn't intimidated at all.  She worked patiently through one monitoring session making sure she had good heart accelerations on all the babies,  So far, so good.  Then the second time she began monitoring was much different.  She found Isaac's heart rate with no problem as well as Isabella's.  Then, we began looking for Eliana's.  The way she was positioned made her difficult to track down especially with two larger babies with larger hearts on either side of her smaller body.  After a few minutes, my nurse did find her but had to sit and hold the monitor at an angle so she could get an accurate, consistent reading.  Eliana was more still than usual but her heart rate was normal~ at first.  Then, we heard a very audible deceleration.  It was not a good sound, like time slowing down, but we knew time was not the issue.  The nurse and I looked at each other then she very calmly started calling for help.  The recording device had not picked up the deceleration but she and I knew exactly what we had heard.  I called Micah and asked him to leave work.  Within minutes, I had an ultrasound and all appeared to be fine.  In the meantime, our doctor was called in and came to sit with us and watch her more.  As we were discussing what was best, Eliana's heart rate, now visible on the monitor, dipped again.  It was clear~ it was time.  Within an hour, I was being prepped for surgery.  During the prepping hour, I had also gone into labor.  I asked the triage nurse wincing in pain, "Do you see all these contractions I am having!?!"  She replied, "Well, I think you need a C-Section, dear."
I will never forget the sight of the OR.  There were three little assessment beds for each of the babies with their names already on them on one whole side of the room.  Within minutes, each baby had at least one if not two nurses in ready position to recieve them.  There was also a Neonatologist and a Nurse Practioner to oversee the babies immediate care.  They were so eager to get their hands on our babies!  The smiles in their eyes above their masks made me feel so much at ease.  There were seven taking care of me~ nurses, my Perinatologist, an assisting OB/GYN from his same practice, an Anesthesiologist and a scrub nurse.  There were so many people in that room!  I knew there would be a crowd, but seeing everyone filling up almost every space was overwhelming!  Micah came in to join us and within minutes Isaac was out.  Somehow, he had managed to get a  knot in his umbilical cord which could have presented a huge problem for him.  Micah got a picture and was then inspired to take more over the curtain pictures (which will not be posted on this blog~ rest assured:)).  Isaac was whisked away to his station.  One minute later, Eliana was out.  She had the tiniest cry but she was surely spirited.  Another minute later, Isabella was out.  She was the first baby I saw as her bed was parellel to mine.  Micah was running around trying to get pictures before the train of babies left the OR.  I got to give Isabella a kiss then she and the others (1st - Eliana, 2nd - Isabella, 3rd - Isaac) made thier way up to NICU.  Later I was told that Andrew and Elijah did get to see their brother and sisters as they were wheeled down the hallway.  I was so glad they got a glimpse of them.  Back in the OR, my doctor leaned over the curtain and reaffirmed our decision to take them out.  He finished the procedure and sent me to recovery.

It wasn't until 4:30 a.m. that I got to see the babies.  By that time, they were settled in to their own special spots in the NICU.  Later that morning, the big boys left for North Carolina and will be cared for there by family.  It was hard to see them leave but reassuring knowing that they will be loved on while Micah and I learn how to navigate the NICU.  Already I feel stretched between five children.  I knew it was coming, but experience is usually different than I expected and will be a true educator. 

Eliana~ the tiniest~ is doing very well.  She has no assisted breathing devices at all and likes to try and rip out the other tubes in various places on her body:)  Isabella has a little bit of help with breathing.  She moves around the most, demonstrating how she was able to stretch her legs and arms out when she was back in my belly.  Isaac has needed the most help.  His doctor has him on a ventilator but doesn't expect him to stay on it very long.  All the babies will be getting a PICC line to help reduce the need for other sticks.  They are all getting small feeds already and seem to be tolerating those well.

Isaac in his Isolette
Isabella, showing us how she liked to try to lay in-utero

The first time I got to hold Eliana
On top of all the medical stuff, they are just so cute and sweet.  I got to hold the girls yesterday for the first time and do what is called Kangaroo Care.  When I held Eliana and would speak, she would open her eyes and look toward the sound of my voice.  Isabella even relaxed more against my skin and curled up on my chest, most content.  I am hoping to get to hold Isaac soon.  Please pray that his breathing improves.  Even though he is having difficulty with his breathing, the docs are saying he is acting appropriately for a preemie boy and anticipates resolution in the near future.  The Neonatologist estimates they will come home in 4-6 weeks.    

I think that should get everyone up to speed;)  Micah and I have treasured all the emails, calls, facebook messages, and texts so many have sent.  One day, we will tell our babies about your outpouring of love and prayers on their behalf.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Meet the Babies!!!

THEY'RE HERE!!!  Our Lord has been good to us!

Isaac Curtis
Time: 8:45 pm
Wieght: 3lbs 11oz
Length:  15.5 in.

Eliana Sue
Time: 8:46 pm
Weight: 2lbs 4oz
Length: 13.5 in.

Isabella Joy
Time: 8:47 pm
Weight: 3lbs 11oz
Length: 15.5 in.

Thanks so much for praying.  More updates to come.  Enjoy a few pictures!