Monday, April 30, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

My mom celebrated her birthday on Saturday. We love you mom and can't wait for you to be here to see the girls.

We've been maintaining our hectic schedule over the weekend. The only exciting news, besides no major setbacks, is the girls have tried to get their feeding through a bottle a couple of times now. Their last major hurdle before they are allowed to come home is learning to suck, breathe, and swallow. At 34 weeks is when they develop that reflex so Lisa has been allowing them to do some non-nutritive exploration for a while now...meaning they don't really get any milk, it's just practice. The last couple of days Lisa didn't pump right before we arrive to give them a chance to actually get some milk. The first couple of days didn't yield any results. The girls were too tired or not really interested or...just lazy like their dad.

So today we introduced the bottle. We figure we're going to have to bottle feed them, it's just a matter of how much they get from the bottle and how much they can get from breastfeeding. Lisa learned very quickly that it's not going to be easy and we are going to have to get out of our comfort zone again. Feeding them through the bottle is a little different from feeding a full term baby. With preemies, you have to have them on their side and rotate their body, head, and bottle together to let the milk gather in the nipple. Then, after a couple of good sucks, rotate them back so the milk isn't in the nipple to allow them to swallow and breath. Then, when they're ready, they'll start sucking and you rotate them again to allow the milk to fill up the nipple.

First try, the nurse was watching closely over Lisa's shoulders as Kaitlyn tried a couple of sucks. It was very hard to tell because she didn't choke or anything, she just stopped breathing and the first sign was her heart monitor dropped from her normal 150 range down to the 80s. She recovered almost immediately but it instantly brought back memories of those past episodes that gave us so much anxiety. She did okay after that and took in maybe 5 ml of her 44 ml lunch.

So this evening...we gave Alyssa the chance at the real nipple and I took Kaitlyn for another go at the bottle. She did GREAT!! I asked the nurse to pretty much stand over my shoulder and watch every move. After getting over that initial fear, I was pivoting and rotating and she was sucking and swallowing...and breathing. After 5 minutes or so, I held her up and tried to work out her first burp. It didn't happen. She went back to her side and took some more and when I sat her up again and gently patted her back, I got a big ole BBBBUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRPPPPPPPP!!!!! It was AWESOME!! Just like her dad. I was so proud!!

Lisa is on the couch pumping one more time before we go to bed. I looked over because it seems like she's been going for a while and she is asleep! Pretty funny. She is on the couch in her very comfy robe with suction cups attached to her breasts...and she's snoring!! Ha. I should probably wake her up before she gets some hickeys.

Anyway, Kaitlyn took almost half of her feeding by bottle tonight. It brought up some fears that they'll start taking more and more from the bottle and never really master the breast then they'll send us home and we'll have to figure it out on our own. Regardless, it was a very special moment tonight...Daddy burping his girl for the first time.

Alyssa is also just a few grams away from 5 pounds. She's 4 pounds, 15.75 ounces and Katy's 4 pounds, 14.5 ounces. They are really getting big.

Sorry no pics tonight.

Friday, April 27, 2007

special moments

Another INSANELY long day coming to a close. It started early this morning when my alarm went off. I was so out of it that I called work and told them I was going to be late. After a few weird moments, the lead forecaster realized that I was a little confused and out of it and explained that I still had an hour and 15 minutes to get to work. I had looked at the clock and believed it was one hour later than it was. I was so out of it. Management had a good laugh at my expense when I showed up...on time.

10 hours of work, then I came home to work on the crib and have a quick bite to eat. We made it up to the hospital at 9 and held the girls for a couple of hours. Lisa had her own busy day. She was up at the hospital in the morning, had lunch with our friend Micki, then back to the hospital until 6ish...all the while pumping every 2 hours.

Tomorrow I have to work again but will be taking a couple hours off to go and take a CPR class for preemies...which brings me to a realization that I had today. Since I've been in Alaska, I've never worked for the weekends. I always show up for work until the schedule says I don't have to come in anymore...whether it's 3 days or 5 days...I just work what's on the schedule and don't pay much attention to the time I have scheduled off. This week, I must have looked at the schedule a dozen times as if it was going to magically change I would be off sooner than Saturday. This is a weird feeling of being SO tired and really looking forward to that first day off so I can catch up with all this stuff I need to do. Is this what normal corporate work feels like? Or is this just what it feels like when you have kids? Kinda weird.

So the ladies....we arrived this evening to find Alyssa sucking away on her pacifier in the crib (I haven't seen that before) and Kaitlyn assisting. The siberian husky beanie baby is leaning up against the binkie to keep it in and Kaitlyn is making sure the husky doesn't run away. Good stuff.

Then we held for a long time and Lisa needed to pump again. What usually happens is we put them both back and I go get the pump or just sit there and talk to Lisa. Today I suggested that I hold BOTH GIRLS!!!! As you can imagine, you feel pretty helpless once you have them both but it was a very nice feeling. Today they are 3 weeks old and we certainly have come a long way. I really enjoyed looking at them and holding them so close. It only lasted about half an hour before my arms fell asleep but it was incredible while it lasted.

And YES AMY!!! We saw Blades of Glory!! It was our first movie at the theater since January and we had a blast.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

back to work

It's been a hectic couple of days. I am back to work full time and Lisa's spending about 9 hours up at the hospital. Tonight, we had a quick dinner and went out for a movie!! YEAH, a MOVIE!!! Afterward, we headed straight back to the hospital and were there until just after 11. It was a long day. We're going to do it again tomorrow....minus the movie.

I know there is more to report but I can't think right now. I must love punishing myself because I just finished watching Lost so now it's 12:45am and I've GOT TO GO TO BED!!!

The girls are great. The director of the NICU said that they are trying to fit us in one of the private rooms so Lisa can more freely try to breastfeed the girls. Right now, they are exploring but haven't had any success...the girls that is. They are 34 weeks gestational age today and will be 3 weeks old tomorrow.

They are up to 4 pounds 10 ounces and 4 pounds 9 ounces...Alyssa is still slightly bigger.

Off to bed.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wow. Just wow.

What a day. It started out kinda rough but ended up being a great day.

This morning, some of the stresses of having premature babies started adding up. Lisa was having a hard time coping with the traveling back and forth...back and forth. There was a pep talk and maybe a few tears but we had a great nurse that really helped us focus our attention and make our noon visit very pleasant. We decided to come back at 5 and give the girls a BATH!!!! We haven't done that yet and they hadn't had a bath since their first 24 they kinda needed it and we pretty much had no idea what we were doing.

Well, we had attended a parenting class for preemies on Saturday that walked us through a bath but actually handling two little squirming, soapy girls is a whole other experience.

Maybe I should start earlier with what happened during lunch. We were both trying to focus on the girls and not our situation and Alyssa gave us something to laugh about. She, for the first time and I KNOW...not the last, spit up on me. She was cooing and making all kinds of cute noises and then....bleeehehhhhhhh!!!! Since it's never happened, I was totally unprepared and let her spew all over my shirt. Good stuff. We had to laugh then.

THEN...before we had bath time, we had to change both of their diapers. We've become pretty proficient at the diapers but were not prepared for what they had in store for us. I took my turn with Alyssa first. After wiping her down and putting a new diaper down...the second I removed the old diaper, I heard an unmistakable sound and looked down in time to see...well a very dirty diaper. So I had to start over and get another diaper and clean all over again.

THEN Lisa took her turn with Ms. Kaitlyn Marie. Kaitlyn had been saving up for this moment all day. As soon as Lisa replaced the clean diaper, Katy let it go. And then...she did it again!! We went through 5 diapers during one change! ...and these were no tiny little poopies. These were, well, not something you'd think a 4 pound baby should be able to produce. It became quite comical.

So after we were all done pooping, we stripped down and with the help of our nurse we removed all of their wires for the first time and gave them a very relaxing day at the spa. It was truly amazing. We had many moments where we had to just take it in and laugh. They were so cute.

The great news is we took some video too!!! It will have to be edited down but some lucky family and friends will get a hilarious dvd sometime soon.

So, here are my angels talking about bath time.

First, holding them all swaddled up, we wash their hair. After washing and drying the hair, we put them in the tub

One of the great things about bath time was we got to see their faces without the feeding tube for the first time since day one. It was nice to see their pretty faces.

And then what better way to spend after a nice relaxing bath then to fall asleep on Mommy and Daddy's chest. CHEST HAIR ALERT!!!!!

What a day indeed.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I have two very large babies!!

Our girls are huge! They are growing so fast. They are now both over 4 pounds. Alyssa is 4 pounds 4.5 ounces and Kaitlyn is 4 pounds 3.5 ounces. So Alyssa has gained a whole pound in the last 2 and a half weeks. They're HUGE!!!

They are getting easier and easier to handle...or maybe we're just getting more confident. Kaitlyn still has moments where her oxygen saturation drops but she hasn't had an "event" in 5 days now. The nurse tonight was telling us that she thinks that one day soon we're going to come in there and those monitors will be gone. It's a little nerve racking considering what happened just a week or so ago but if the doctors say they're ready, then they're ready.

On a sad note, Lisa's mom headed home today. She's going to go back to work so she can save up her sick leave when the babies come home and we'll really need her help. I am kinda doing the same thing. I'm planning on going back to work full time this week as long as we don't have any setbacks.

We actually haven't taken many new pictures the last couple of days so I'll just post one of the nicest bouquets Lisa received.

Friday, April 20, 2007

steady progress

The girls are super stars! They are improving every day. Their latest adventure is getting ready for breastfeeding. Usually it is at 34 weeks when the NICU babies will start to spend more and more time ....well you know...doing their thing....but our babies have been exploring for more than a week now and should be actually feeding from a bottle or ....uh...Lisa sometime this week.

Nurses and doctors still tell us to expect bumps in the road and are pretty positive this won't be a smooth process...but they don't seem to know my girls. So far, so good but we are kinda waiting for those bumps. Their expected discharge is still between 36 and 38 weeks gestational age. We are at 33 weeks and 2 days right now.

In other news, we received a phone call from our neonatologist. This was the specialist that we referred to that we were seeing for the twin to twin transfusion syndrome. I haven't really touched on this since they were born but the weeks leading up to their birth, the twin to twin transfusion had reversed. Someday I'll go into more detail as to what that means but it's 1:30am right now so you're getting the quick story. Anyway, the doctor called to ask Lisa's permission to write up our case for a medical journal. He said that he had discussed with a colleague and could only find one other case that was documented where the discordance between the babies had fully reversed. Lisa's response to it after she got off the phone was, "it's official...we're freaks!!!!"

There are other things going on but again, my eyes are a little droopy. I'll try to post some more good stuff later.

This is me with Kaitlyn a couple of nights ago and the girls this morning were cuddling when we came in for diaper changes and more holding. When you see them like this, Alyssa is always on the left and Miss Katy is on the right.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

gonna get to bed at a decent hour tonight!!

So I'm going to post now instead of when I get home at 11ish.

I didn't make it to work this morning...I tried...but not a chance. I was falling asleep in the shower after sleeping through my alarm for an hour and a half. By the time I was getting ready, my half day would have been only a third of a day so I decided to skip the 3 hours of work and spend more time with the girls. It turned out to be a good decision.

We had a great nurse today. We spent the first couple of hours holding the girls and talking with the nurse and then we went down the hall to our bi-weekly double cuddles group meeting (a group of parents and twins). Today, though, there were 5 sets of twins with all their moms and no dads!! After about 2 minutes of all that estrogen, I decided to go back down the hall and spend the hour with MY girls instead of all of those other twins. Lisa and her mom stayed and had a good time...but I got to be alone with my girls.

Almost, the nurse was there but I had some good quality dad/daughters time.

During the holding time, Lisa tried something new. She held both girls "football style" and let the girls do a little investigating. Both of them fell asleep pretty fast but it was pretty magical watching Lisa hold both girls under her arms. It was very special.

The pictures don't do it justice because we could not get the right angle without exposing Lisa.

Alyssa is on the left and Kaitlyn Marie is tucked in on the right.

And our girls are now in their own crib!!! They are regulating their temperatures well enough to move into the open air crib. They should be in this until they go home.

Monday, April 16, 2007

2 very good days

I missed an update yesterday and for that I apologize BUT I had a very good reason. I actually stayed home yesterday evening so Lisa and her mom could spend some time with the girls which should have allowed me to get to bed early because I went back to work 6am!!! Well it was a good idea in theory but it didn't work. I got to bed at 11 which is about the time they got home but I could not fall asleep until Lisa got in bed and we had our nightly debriefing. By the time she got in bed, we talked for an hour, and then I started to settle down, it was after 1am again. I should have just gone and been with the girls.

So tonight I did just that. Even though I had 4.5 hours of sleep last night, I figure I better get used to sleep deprivation now. Don't worry, I'll take care of myself but I gotta spend time with my girls. And you'll see why in a second.

So my awesome Aunt Jan reminded me that I haven't updated how Lisa's doing or what the girls weigh now.

Lisa is doing better each day. The first several days out of the hospital she had a very difficult time getting in and out of her Durango (no she's not driving) but now it's much easier for her. Her incision looks incredible. Every nurse that looked at it when she was in the hospital said "wow! that looks great!" I was expecting much worse and could not believe how amazing and fast it has healed.

She has been an incredible trooper through this whole thing. I have SO much love and respect for what she has gone through these last 7 months.

I sprained my foot today and was limping around at the hospital, wincing in pain every step, wining like a little baby. Realizing what a baby I was being about it, I jokingly said to Lisa, "this must be what labor feels like". I got a good laugh out of it.

As everybody surely knows, babies go through an initial weight loss after birth for a week or so before they start gaining weight again. Our girls both lost a couple of ounces but nothing major and were leveling out and gaining again by the third day.

They are weighed every night and tonight we were lucky enough to participate...meaning we stripped them down to a diaper and placed them gently on a scale. The whole time trying to hurry to minimize how much time they are away from body warmth, clothes, and blankets to keep their temperature up.

So their updated weights....

Alyssa Renee born at 3 lbs 4.5 ounces now weighs 3 pounds 14 ounces
Kaitlyn Marie born at 3 lbs 8 ounces now weighs 3 pounds 12.5 ounces

We talked to the developmental therapist today...from feeding to stress to head shaping and she seemed very enthusiastic about their progress. They are growing and developing at a perfect pace.

So here are a couple of fun pictures I took yesterday. We just finished with their feeding and Kangaroo Care and put them back in their "crib" and Katy started making the funniest faces. She was wide awake and looking around and having a good time. I decided to try and get some close up photos. They came out a little out of focus but they still crack me up. I'm going to try and get the good camera in and take some good quality shots tomorrow or the next day. Enjoy. By the way, Katy is on the left and Alyssa (who woke up a little) is on the right.

And this was tonight. The ladies are sporting their new foam donuts to help shape their head.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

it's difficult..... post at midnight because a lot of the day's events are just sinking in and I always want to go into too much detail.

For the most part, today was a VERY productive day for me. I chose to stay home during the late morning to early afternoon visit so I could catch up on some household chores...and boy did I ever. I put together one crib and was making progress on the second when some of the predrilled holes didn't match up!!! HOW FRUSTRATING!!!! So now I have to call the manufacturer on Monday and wait for them to send out a replacement part. Yes I could just drill the holes myself but it's not that simple.

I also did some cleaning, organizing, much needed haircut, taxes, and....some more cleaning. Definitely very productive.

In the mean time, Lisa tried some double Kangaroo Care. I've been going through the pictures that Eileen took and having a hard time finding one that isn't too racy. Hmmmmm, how bout this one?

Then, tonight.....

We checked in and washed up at the front desk and Lisa and Eileen headed back to our nice corner lot only to find our girls were GONE!!! Panic set in as she went back to the front desk to find out what was going on. Apparently they moved the girls just an hour before we arrived out of the main part of the NICU into some overflow rooms they have set up down the hall. We tried to convince ourselves that it was a good thing and that it was another graduation but we don't like it. The rooms are small for one baby/family and they have two in one room. So there is another crib maybe six feet away. We were wondering how tight it was going to be when the other family showed up when we were there and we didn't have to wait long, she showed up while we were holding and it got REAL crowded.

There isn't much we can do about it, though. I talked to the charge nurse about it but don't know if we'll make the move back to the main NICU. We'll see. We don't know how we'll be able to do Kangaroo Care anymore because there's no way they can fit the big reclining chairs in that tiny room. Ug, growing pains.

The girls were FANTASTIC tonight, though. They both had on onesies and then another bigger outfit to keep them warm. Their isolette is open now so they have to learn to regulate their temperatures better. They had the two outfits on top of each other to help keep them warm. you can imagine, changing these girls in a cramped room with no space to maneuver and then 2 outfits to strip down, while maintaining their wires! and then keeping all 4 legs and arms out of the dirty diapers. That is no easy feat. It took us quite a while to figure it all out and left everyone sweating and a little flustered.

BUT after all that, we were able to swaddle them up and hold them for almost an hour while they ate. Lisa had Katy who seemed a little too tired to do any exploring around the uh...nipple but Alyssa kept turning her head into my chest so I grabbed her binkie and she sucked away. After a while, she started falling asleep but she got some good sucks on that binkie before she passed out. They are learning.

Tomorrow they are scheduled for a cranial ultrasound. This is a common test to look for bleeding in the brain or periventricular luekomalacia (PVL) which is when the tissue around the brain is damaged, possibly as a result from decreased blood flow to the brain before, during, or after delivery.

We just called up to see when the test is scheduled so we can be there but got the run around that it could be anytime from 4am to 4pm, it just depends on when a technician is available to do it. It sounds like to me they don't want the parents to be there to be in the way. Keep us in your prayers tomorrow.

We are also encountering some new challenges that I haven't mentioned tonight but...can be...well, challenging.

The girls don't seem to mind that their room is smaller.

Dad, on the other hand, is not so comfortable.

Friday, April 13, 2007

growing isn't always easy

We are trying to stay positive about today and shake it off but I'd be lying if I didn't say we had a really rough time. The last couple of days, both girls have had moments where the heart rate or saturation (oxygen level in their blood) dips down enough to set the alarms off. These have been described as normal events that they will eventually outgrow and as long as they continue to recover on their own with no assistance from us or a nurse, then it's not even anything they'll write in the log.

These little non-events have been increasing and making us feel uneasy. We asked our nurse during the day reasons why this was happening and if we should be concerned. She explained a lot of the things I just wrote to us and tried to assure us that it was nothing to be worried about. The causes can be anything from bearing down (pushing out some poo) to stress but again, as long as they recover on their own, it's considered a non-event.

Well tonight, we came in for our evening visit and Katy was in the middle of one of these non-events. It was starting to upset Lisa so she sat down and I walked around to try and calm Katy down and watch for signs of stress. I had one hand on her head and another over her legs and the alarms started going off. I looked over and the sat was as low as I had seen it. I looked over at the heart monitor to see that her heart rate had dropped down to 71. We've been told to watch the babies and not the monitors but that one was too much. It's hard to relive this.....

So I have learned that what they will initially do to get them back to normal is to stimulate them so I did that. I grabbed her hand and it was completely limp. Her legs were limp and I couldn't tell that she was breathing at all. Now I was concerned. I put my fingers on her chest and moved up and down to try and stimulate and that seemed to help for a split second but she immediately went back to being completely limp. Again, alarms are going off in the background this whole time. I moved my fingers up her chest again and this time she really seemed to come out of it and started moving around again. I was a split second from calling for the nurse who was never more than 10 feet away but she was handling another crying baby so she didn't see all that was going on...I have to admit that's a little disconcerting. She later told us that we should have called for her when we saw both the heart rate drop down and the sat level and not recover immediately.

When we talked about it with the nurse, she again reassured us that although this was a more significant event, warranting a log on their chart, it was nothing that hurt her or is uncommon. They will grow out of this stage. She then mentioned that the day nurse had logged a very similar event on her chart from earlier in the afternoon, shortly after we had left around 2pm.

This is a little difficult for me...well us, because I know there are families and babies out there that are much sicker than our girls but that was scary. That was very scary! We're not used to dealing with babies that stop breathing and have to be stimulated to remind them to start again. That was SO hard to see.

Lisa and I also were talking about how up until the last 24 hours ago when these little events started happening, not much has happened to make us nervous. This was a very real reminder that our babies are only 32 weeks gestational age and they are still developing right in front of us. They aren't ready to be in this world yet, not equipped to handle life outside of the womb.

We're getting to know a woman that works for the NICU to offer support and answer questions. She has that job because 2 years ago she had twins at 23 weeks. The boy passed away but his sister is doing great. We even got to meet this little miracle. It's stories like that that make me want to downplay our fears and make me think we're acting like big babies ourselves when every little alarm goes off...but I can't describe how fast MY heart was racing when I was trying to stimulate my little girl into breathing again. I know that I probably will...but I really hope I never have to do that again. I can't take that.

The good news was that all happened in the first 15 minutes of our visit this evening. The rest of the night went great. Granny and mom held the girls for over an hour and nobody had anymore events. They both worked on sucking their binkies and after a while I was making everybody laugh as we started relaxing and getting back to normal.

I just read this out loud for Lisa and had the thought that I might be a little over dramatic in describing what happened this evening. It's going to be hard for me to find that balance between sharing the ups...and downs...without the emotions coming out. I've mentioned before that I wear my emotions on my sleeve and this is one of those times. If someone asks me if something is wrong, and there is, I'm not going to pretend that it's all gravy and nothing is bothering me. That's what you're getting here tonight, some real emotion to a stressful moment in our life.

BUT all in all, the girls are doing great. Their IVs are both out now so they are getting all of their nutrients from Lisa's milk and some formula mixed in. They both have cute little outfits on and continue to amaze us at their progress over their first 8 days outside of the womb. AND, every day we get more compliments on how cute they are. It's funny because a lot of preemies don't even look like cute little babies. They are aliens...not our girls. They REALLY are cute. We're so lucky!!

Okay, pictures. These are some pictures from Micki's camera that I had to borrow during their first few hours.

This is actually the first picture taken of my baby girl, Kaitlyn. She was maybe 4 or 5 minutes old at this point.

First picture of Alyssa a few minutes later.

Katy's first closeup

Lisa seeing Katy for the first time.

Things finally settling down so we remembered to get a picture of the new parents about an hour and a half after delivery.

another late night

Whew. The end of another long day. I can't seem to get myself to bed before 1am. Tomorrow is going to be especially hard since we have a 9am appointment with our future pediatrician.

We stayed busy all day taking care of our girls and getting some home stuff done too. It has been very difficult trying to find that balance between home stuff, taking care of the girls, and rest. We haven't found that balance yet. It's better than it was a couple of days ago but we still have to find some balance. I'm sure every first-time parents go through something like this but I feel like it is a little more difficult for us since our girls are at still at the hospital, and probably will be for another month or so.

I'll have to blog some more thoughts on that later. It's difficult to come up with ....I can't even finish that sentence I'm so tired. I've been staring at the computer for 5 minutes and the words just aren't coming, so I'll move on. You know what I mean.

I had a weird moment today. I'm sure it's the lack of sleep, the stress, the dog, the girls, worrying about Lisa, finances, etc etc etc but I had a legitimate panic attack today while I was holding one of the girls. It was actually quite scary. I used to have panic attacks pretty frequently in college and for a couple of years after and even took Paxil to help keep me sane. I waned myself of Paxil about 3 years ago and really hadn't had an attack since...until today.

I'm not even sure while I'm sharing this because I know some people from my office may read this and this may be a little too personal but I've been using this blog as my release so I'm going to release a little tonight. That was a run-on sentence by the way.

What's really scary about the panic attack today was I was holding Kaitlyn when it came on. I didn't have an escape and honestly thought I was going to pass out in the chair with my 3 1/2 pound baby girl in my arm. I slowed down my breathing but I could feel my heart trying to beat out of my chest. It really was not a fun moment.

Lisa recognized what was happening and helped me calm back down and get past it but that certainly isn't something I want to repeat.

Again, I don't know why I'm sharing. I'm not looking for sympathy or anything, it was just another reality check today that my body isn't coping very well.

Back to happy thoughts....

Lisa's milk production has increased every day which is GREAT. The girls are off the formula and drink as much of the milk as Lisa can produce. They are too young to breast feed which is why Lisa has to pump every 2 to 3 hours. I've said this from the beginning, I do not envy her.

After I blogged earlier this evening, the docs came around to do their rounds and told the nurse to go ahead and take Alyssa off of her IV too after her 4am feeding. So by the time Lisa and I go in to see them, they will both have on pretty outfits and will be much easier to move around without the IVs hanging off of their arms or legs.

Finally, the pics. I always post them last because I figured nobody would read if I posted the pics first.

ONE (if not the only) nice thing the hospital did for us after the girls were born....a congrats cake. We just got around to eating it tonight.

It's hard to tell but Katy (on the left) is spooning Alyssa. That's her left arm over Alyssa's shoulder. It was pretty sweet.

Later in the afternoon, we found them all cuddled close with their hands intertwined.

This is me putting Katy's first outfit on. You may notice it too but you can tell how small the girls are compared to my hands.

Another shot to show their size. This is Alyssa being held by our nurse on her way back to the isolette. They lost a few ounces after they were born but are now gaining again. They are both close to 3 pounds, 7.5 ounces.

Andy finally, Katy waiting in the isolette by herself in her first outfit.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Posting from the hospital

I thought I would try to post real quick from the hospital while Lisa and Eileen were holding the babies on the other side of the room.

Today was another whirlwind of events but it doesn't seem like there is much to report. OH!! When we came in tonight, Katy was off of her IV so she is now allowed to start wearing her one-sies. Guess who put on her first outfit? HER DADDY!!!

The IV was allowed to stop because they are getting more and more milk with every feeding (still through a tube that goes in their nose and down to their stomach) and waning off of the IV's as the milk volumes goes up. Tonight we hit that critical value where it was okay to stop the IV for Katy and since they won't need access to her arms and legs to change and dress the IVs, we were finally allowed to dress her with something more than a diaper.

Alyssa will soon follow suit. Her IV is just a tad behind so the nurse said that she should be losing that tonight and may be dressed in a one-sie first thing in the morning.

We're going to have an early start tomorrow morning. Lisa and I are going to go meet with our future pediatrician for the first time and then spend the rest of the morning with the girls.

I should be able to post again from home before I go to bed with some pictures of me dressing Katy but I just wanted to do a quick update while I was still here.


Lisa is ....well....a year older today!!!!! She celebrated a birthday with two gorgeous young babies today. What more could you ask for?

Sorry for the non-blog yesterday. You should skip ahead of you're only looking for baby news. The next section will be about our personal life.

We learned some potentially devastating news yesterday. Our 10 year old dog Madison has been acting pretty strange lately. In the last 48 hours, she has had some episodes that I couldn't explain so after calling the vet at midnight last night we decided it would be best to hop in the car and go down to the emergency clinic to have her checked out. Everything checked out pretty good. She didn't act like she was in pain and the doctor didn't feel anything abnormal. We had some blood work done and it came back pretty good. She had some elevated levels but nothing that would raise any red flags for the vets.

So when I called the vet first thing this morning to talk about the results, she said that after eliminating other things with the blood work that we can start thinking about cancer. Yeah....cancer..... I hate even saying the word.

There is much more detail to the story but for the sake of "holy crap, it's 1am" I'll just leave it at that. She is currently on Pepcid AC to treat what is hopefully some very strange upper GI issues. If the continues acting like she has, we'll have to take her in to have some x-rays and even ultrasounds to look for a tumor.

I don't know what else to say. No tears were shed today because it's just too early to worry about that. We are trying to focus on the other positives in our life and cross that bridge when we come to it.

So that's why there was no blog last night. It was a very late night (kinda like this one now) and just crashed when me and the dog got back from the vet.

Back to the girls....

They are doing great. We were warned their Bili levels could jump back up, which is the measurement for jaundice, and early this morning their screening showed that it continued to go down so no threat of returning to the phototherapy.

We did the Kangaroo care the last two afternoons with mixed results. It's a little intimidating because they are so tiny and fragile. We constantly watch their monitors to check their temperature and their breathing and ....well, it hasn't been perfect.

Today Alyssa had an episode where she stopped breathing for a few moments. The monitors started alarming and I looked down at her face and she seemed fine. I started rubbing her back and talking to her and she immediately came out of it and started breathing again. The whole thing lasted less than 20 seconds but it was enough to give me quite the scare.

Our night time nurse tonight assured us that's normal for babies that age. It is definitely something they watch for and make note of but nobody seemed too concerned over it.

As I mentioned earlier, it was Lisa's birthday today. We had set our goal at April 11th a long time ago because it would have been 32 weeks for the babies and Lisa's b-day. We were 6 days short, not too shabby.

Lisa seems very understanding but I feel terrible that I wasn't able to get her lots of presents...okay not even one present. I haven't had time to shop!!!! It's hard to admit that I didn't get her anything for her birthday. Hopefully in the next couple of days I can find some time to sneak away and make it up to her.....somehow. Thank goodness I have an understanding wife.

We were able to go to our favorite restaurant, the Moose's Tooth!!!! If you haven't been to Anchorage and experienced the chicken ranch pizza at Moose's Tooth, then you haven't lived. It is our favorite meal!! A great way to celebrate a birthday. Ben and Lisa met us and we had LOTS of laughs. It was a lot of fun. Thanks guys!

Okay, finally some pics.

We walked in yesterday morning and found the girls like this.

Me and the birthday girl looking over our baby girls in their isolette.

Lisa reading the girls a night time story.

Alyssa on the left and Kaitlyn on the right. Katy is showing us her thinking man's pose. That is her index finger, not her middle finger if you can't tell.

Monday, April 09, 2007

a good day today

A loooong day, but a good one. It started early this morning on our first visit to the NICU after breakfast to see the girls were off the photolight therapy. Their "bili" count had gone down significantly from their previous blood work so the decision was made to take them off the lights. It may always creep back up in the next couple of days or week but for now, it's another problem that was resolved MUCH faster than we thought it would.

Second problem...last night before we went to bed the nurse told us that the day nurse had heard a heart murmur in both girls. The doctor came in and could only hear a murmur in Katy so a consult was ordered for Monday. Overnight the nurse didn't hear the murmur and then when the doctor came in again this morning, he couldn't hear it in either baby. SO the consult was called off.

The girls continued to make progress on their feeding schedule. The only setbacks occur when not all the food is digested and they have what they call, residuals. One of them, Alyssa I think, had minimal residuals but nothing to delay the twice daily increase in food.

Lisa continues to pump and up until this morning was still only getting colostrum. She is now beginning to receive some milk which is being frozen until another several days when their diet will change and the nurses will begin to incorporate Lisa's milk (I think that's how it's going to work). We bought a $330 (holy crap) pump today so we can begin pumping at home during the night.

My big adventure today was changing my first poopie diaper....IN MY LIFE!!! I am 100% positive I have never changed a poopie diaper. My siblings right now are probably asking themselves how that's possible. How did I manage to be the uncle of 2 nieces and 2 nephews but never have to deal with poop? Cause I'm good.

That streak ended today and now it's payback.

It actually went pretty well. I changed both girls and did pretty good. The challenge was not the contents of the diaper, but all the wires and having to reach into the incubator. It wasn't exactly ideal circumstances. ....alright, enough about poop.

Emotionally, we are doing better today...especially Lisa. I hope to have some time to dive into a lot of the things that happened and that we have been going through but after midnight is not the best time to start that blog. There were a few tears today, but not too many considering this will be our first night out of the hospital and away from our girls.

To all of you who called today and I think we missed every call...we love you and appreciate you calling to check on us. Just because we weren't here or didn't return your call, don't think that we didn't want to talk to everyone. Keep calling. Keep emailing. Keep praying. We need it all.

Here are a few shots from today. Tomorrow morning we are going to spend some time at home recuperating and coming up with a schedule for each day. Today was too exhausting.

Proof of my first diaper changer. Those are Eileens hands on the left. She assisted by keeping the girl not getting changed out of the way and helping maintain all the wires...again, not as easy as you would think.

More Kangaroo Care time starring Lisa and Kaitlyn

the roller coaster goes up......and down

I'm having a hard time deciding what exactly to share tonight. For those of you who know me well, know that I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I would probably share more of today's events in an email with closer friends and family of course but for the sake of the blog and not knowing who reads this, I'll have to show some restraint.

The girls continue to do very well. That isn't the problem. The photolight therapy will continue for a couple of days at least. That didn't stop us from having some intimate time with the girls during another kangaroo care session for about an hour and a half and then some late night swaddling after they were measured and weighed this evening.

The problems we encountered today were with the way we were treated by the hospital. Bottom line is these last couple of days should have been a positive experience and it's not that it was negative, but it definitely wasn't positive. There are many many factors that contributed so it's not like we can pinpoint one thing and say "if only...". It all finally caught up with Lisa and I this afternoon as she was being discharged a day earlier than we expected.

I've already shared more than I intended but there are a few more things that I want to get off my chest. Right now, this website is mainly to update everyone on the status of Lisa and the girls so I don't know if right now is the best time to vent and share some of my deeper emotions. I don't know where to draw that line.

.............just know....that we had a very difficult day today emotionally.

Story time this afternoon.

Eileen holding Alyssa for the first time this evening.

Lisa and Katy bonding

Sunday, April 08, 2007

a day at the beach

Well maybe not but when you see these pictures, you'll understand.

First of all, Lisa's mom has arrived! I left Lisa to pick her up at 7:30pm and got back right at 9...not too bad. I say that because I hate leaving. I don't want to miss anything. Eileen is down right giddy. It's pretty funny. These two are her first grandchildren so it's a lot of fun seeing her reactions.

We found out right before I left that it was time to start the phototherapy to treat the jaundice and they were going to begin at 9pm. It was kinda a race to get Eileen back to see the girls before they had to put on their shades and go under the lights...although we'll still be able to get them out for Kangaroo Care so it wasn't that big of a deal if she missed them tonight. We arrived with plenty of time to spare and they put it off a little longer to give Eileen some time with them. In the mean time, Lisa changed a couple more poopie diapers (YEA!). They continue to digest their food very well so the amounts they are given continue to go up. That just means they'll continue to grow like weeds.

So at about 9:45, they put on the ladies shades and put them under the lights. I don't fully understand why the lights help the condition but I did hear that it may last a couple days up to a week or so...all depends on how the girls react.

The covers are there to protect their eyes. After they got all set up, we laughed and laughed at how cute they were. It's going to be hard to take them seriously these next several days, it looks like they're tanning. Too cute.

In all the excitement, we kinda forgot that it's Easter. Micki (our angel in Anchorage) brought some little Easter baskets for the girls. TOO cute! That's all I can think to say.

For those of you not used to seeing premies decked out like that, it really isn't a big deal. This is a very normal reaction in a premature birth. The nurses, doctors, and everyone we've talked to said to expect it and to expect to breeze right through it. Lisa, Eileen, the 2 nurses, and I were all smiles while these pictures were being taken. It's just the first day at the beach for these girls.