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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 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.


Aaron and Jennifer said...

Praying for you guys as you live life in the NICU. It is hard, I know. But by God's grace, it sounds like your babies are doing well. Abel was also a bit slower than Belle in the NICU, though he weighed more. They say boys do worse than girls, but at their gestational age, I'm sure they will be fine. Congrats again, mama!

Linda Glasco said...

Congratulations to all of you!! You & the babies were mentioned for prayer @ church today. We will continue to pray. God is so good!

Lara said...

You look amazing. Glad everyone is doing so well.

Barb said...

So happy for you guys! We will miss you at seminar, and will be praying for all of you!

Kathryn said...

I LOVE birth stories. They always make me cry, and this one was no exception. I loved the last picture, getting to see you hold your girl. I too pray that you get to hold your little Isaac soon. Praying for all of the babies, you and Micah as you watch over them, and the boys as they are away from you right now.

Love, Kathy

Katie G said...

They are just beautiful! Your story brings back so many memories. The time in the NICU seemed so slow at the time, and fast in hindsight. I had one ds who had more breathing problems also. He spent a week longer in the NICU than the others, but has been the healthiest and the tallest ever since. Congratulations!!!

Shirley Stanford said...

Read Philippians 4: 4 to the end. I love it and it gives great peace of mind. You looked beautiful holding the baby and Micah looked very proud. Gandalf and I are thinking of ALL of u. Shirley

Ashley said...

Great pictures- love Isabella's long, skinny legs stretched out! Glad they're doing so well. Continuing to pray for you all.

Lauren said...

Hey, Tiffany! My husband and I were at Southern seven years ago now, so I have no idea if you remember me, but we had many an SWI class together and I was on the Pendergaph board. I couldn't believe what I was reading about as I stumbled upon you. Congratulations on your embryo adoption, and I pray all is going well with your babies.
-Lauren Sullens