Saturday, September 6, 2008

Baby Stats

I forgot to mention that we finally got the girls lengths! Emma was 16.5" and Mady was 15.5".

In our arms

We got to hold Emma today! We didn't even expect it today so needless to say we were thrilled to finally hold one of our girls in our arms. We had her out for about 20 minutes before they had to put her back in her isolette. She had a de-saturation in her oxygen while she was out, so they put her back in. We like to think she got so comfy and happy with mom and dad that she forgot what she needed to be focusing on.

Emma is now taking in 6cc's every 3 hours of mommy's milk. She is doing very well. Mady is doing better but still taking her time to catch up to her sister. She is still on the CPAP. Her gas levels were better and her lung x-rays seem to be clearing up. Unfortunately sometimes she gets too comfortable in her breathing pattern and doesn't take deep enough breaths. We're hoping she'll get to have it removed tomorrow. She is having a little bit of a dark substance come up through her feeding tube. This may be showing signs of a slight GI issue. They gave her some medication and she did have a bowel movement today, so that is good. I think they need to see that nothing else comes up from the tube before they will start to feed her. She is receiving nourishment through her IV. They both were opening their eyes a lot today. The billy lights were removed but they may be back on them again tomorrow as they level out.

We're going to go in tomorrow morning to try to be there for the doctors rounds.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Our lil' girl is eating!

Christian called after rounds today and they are giving Emma 3cc's of my breast milk. It's amazing how good it feels to know I may at least be able to help them by giving them my nourishment. Mady will stay on the CPAP until at least 4 today. They'll do another x-ray at that time. They did an EKG on her and everything looks great with her heart.

Life at the NICU

Emma chillin'

The Billy Lights

It's crazy how much you learn and need to learn when your children are in the NICU. We met an amazing couple last night that has been through quite a struggle. They are full of knowledge about life in the NICU. Emma and Mady are doing well. Emma does have an infection, which may be the cause of our early labor. They are treating both of them with antibiotics for 7 days. They are now under the Billy lights which helps with jaundice. They are doing well under those, so they may not be under them for too long. We're hoping that Emma will start with her feeding tube today. They will most likely make that decision after rounds today. Mady is struggling a little with her breathing. She's on a CPAP, which is slightly assisted breathing with room air (I's a lot to try to understand). Her chest x-rays have been showing some fuzziness in her lungs. Her blood gas levels have been a little high and they gave her another dose of Surfactant last night. She did lose some weight yesterday which is a good thing believe it or not. They want to make sure she gets any excessive fluid out of her. The fluid may or may not be what is affecting her breathing. It's hard to watch those two with the tubes in them, especially Mady, but when they grab and clutch on to your finger with their tiny hands it's amazing! We love them so much!

I'm now at home. I was released last night and we hung out in the NICU till about 11:00 to wait for some blood results for Mady. I've started pumping in there as well. I guess it's supposed to really help your pumping if you are there with your baby, even if you can't hold them. I can't wait for the day that we can hold them... even if it's only for 15 minutes. I'm feeling okay, still very tired and a little sore. My breast milk is definitely coming in and I'm feeling very full and sore.

I know that I need to focus on now, but I'm so worried about the time I will NEED with my kids when they come home. They are preemies and will need me for 6-8 weeks after they come home. I'm hoping that my employer and I can figure something out. After all we've all been through, I will not bring my babies home and then leave them right away. I know it will mean time without pay and we will figure that out... they are more important than a pay check right now.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Our Birth Story (Not A Short One)

This is a very long story, but it's our way of remembering exactly what happened on our daughters birthdays!

After my 2 weeks of hospital bed rest, I successfully made it through one more week at home. Sunday night I was waking up every 30 minutes to use the bathroom. Monday, I kept telling Christian I just didn't feel well, and had some little aches and pains, but we both attributed it to "growing pains". Monday night, same thing... up every 30 minutes and I just felt very achey, had an uncomfortable heaviness, and my hip and pubic bone pain were much worse. Around 6am, I went to the bathroom and noticed some faint pink spotting. We decided it was time to call the doctor. When she returned my call, she said she was sorry, but I should make the trip into Magee, though she felt it was most likely a UTI. I decided to pack a little bag just in case I ended up on hospital bed rest again. I guess I had some sort of intuition about what was ahead because I told Christian I just wasn't ready to have our babies yet... I wanted them to have more time to grow.

Moments after hanging up the phone with her I started having horrific cramping. We both got showered and by the time we got into the car around 7:15am, I was contracting every 4-5 minutes and feeling it in my back as well. I had a feeling that wasn't good. I was starving and craving marshmallows, so Christian stopped and got me a rice krispie bar. Who knew this would be my last morsel of food until 11pm that night?

We got to L&D and were sent back to triage right away. It was actually a slow morning for them. As soon as they got me set up on the monitors, we saw the contractions. I think they were every 5 minutes at that point. They checked my cervix and did a bunch of cultures. I was 4 cm dilated. When I left the hospital 1 week prior, I was 2 cm dilated. The doctor came in and talked to us and did yet another cervical exam. She looked at me and said you realize your not going home, right? We were a little scared, but still had hope that maybe I'd just remain there on bed rest.

After a few hours of monitoring, they sent us over to a Labor and Delivery room. We were told it was just for further monitoring where they could give us more one-on-one attention. I think we went over there around 11am. Then the MFM (maternal fetal medicine/high-risk) group came to talk to us. We were surrounded by probably 7 doctors, nurses and specialists. They explained to us that there are many reasons for pre-term labor, but sometimes the true reason is never found. One out of 3 reasons is an infection in the uterus. They suggested to us that we do an Amniocentesis to check for infection. We were both shocked by this as we always thought that an amnio was very risky due to a chance of miscarriage. They explained that the risk does exist at early stages in pregnancy. The risks associated with an amnio at this point were very small. We needed to know if there was infection because an infection would mean delivering the babies that day. Infection can be detrimental to the babies and to the mother. If no infection was found they would consider continuing my meds to prolong birth, even if was only for a day. They did the amnio, assisted by an ultrasound and the initial result showed a positive for baby a. They would need to wait for 3 more markers before making a decision.

My parents then came and we all waited and waited for the results to come back. In the meantime my contractions worsened, then subsided a little, and then started back up. It was around 12:15 or so that they did the amnio and we didn't see the doctors again until about 4:00 (all times are estimates... it was such a whirlwind!). The doctor came in and explained that there indeed was infection found. It was basically our decision in the end as far as what we wanted to do, but that the consensus of every one there was to induce labor and they she wanted to break my water. We were in shock and disbelief. We didn't want to risk the babies health or mine, so we agreed. My eyes welled with tears and the doctor looked right at me and said "this is not your fault, you did everything you could."

She did one last cervix check and I was now 6-7 dilated. She told us at that point there was no longer a decision to be made anyway, I was going into labor. She broke my water and I felt a little relief and then the cramping started again. We discussed the epidural. I didn't want it too early or too late. I needed to do it then so that I was ready for a c-section if necessary. I think by this time it was about 5, and my dad asked the doctor if she had a time in mind. She said she was pretty sure the kids would be here by 8pm, and she was right!

Right after we said it was time for the epidural, the "real" contractions and pain started. I was in so much pain and screamed a few times. The anesthesiologist came in and explained what he would be doing. In the meantime my pain was increasing. I had to turn to my side and hunch over and not move while he prepped an inserted the needle and catheder. Christian held my hands and I leaned on him for support. After trying twice, the doctor said he was not convinced that this was going to work, but he would be back to check on me in a few minutes. Everything remained the same, if not worse. He came back to check me by pricking my skin with a needle and it was obvious that it hadn't worked. So while my pain was worsening, we had to try again. 2 more attempts and he finally got it in. This was probably the worst part of the day. Trying to breath through a contraction being unable to move.

After the epidural, they checked me again and I was 9-10 dilated. We did a few pushes in the labor and deliver room to push through the pain of the contractions and I was moved to the OR just in case of a c-section. I kept looking for Christian, making sure I could always see him. By the time we got to the OR, the pain of the contractions had lessened and turned more into an immense pressure/pain instead of cramping. It definitely made a difference, but we still painful.

After they got my prepped, Christian was able to pull a chair up beside me and hold my head and hand. He was the best labor coach anyone could ask for. There is no way I could have done this without him. The nurses are still commenting on what a great team we were and how well we did. He was talking the whole time, trying to keep me occupied. I kept my eyes closed almost the whole time to remain focused, but he said there were at least 15-20 people in the room with us.

I think that maybe I pushed 5-8 times and then they told me they could see the head and full head of hair. Christian kept saying, "honey, it's the head, it's our baby's head!" A few pushes later I could feel her getting ready to come out, as the pressure intensified. At 7:16, they told me to open my eyes and look and said, "congratulations, it's a girl"! We named her immediately and they laid her on my chest for a moment. She was beautiful! While they cleaned her up, they prepared for baby b. Christian and I were a little nervous, as they used the ultrasound to figure out if the baby had changed position and they were concentrating on the heartbeat. They positioned the baby internally and by moving my belly around. They broke her water and put a monitor on her head.

It was only a few pushes later that our second miracle entered our world, at 7:27pm. We got to see them both after they were cleaned up and put in their isolettes. Two beautiful baby girls!

Then they went to work on me. I had to deliver the placentas, which was a little uncomfortable, but I felt such relief afterwards. I only required one stich, which was one of the parts of labor I was very worried about!

It was an amazing, scary, joyful, tearful, whirlwind of a day. These little girls are doing so, so well. We think they know how much mommy and daddy went through to have them and how we would go through anything for them.

Happy Birthday Emma and Madelyn!

Yesterday at 7:16pm we became the parents of the most beautiful little girl we've ever seen – Emma Gail Mayer (2lb. 14oz).

Then at 7:27pm, her equally gorgeous baby sister – Madelyn Lee Mayer (3lb. 2 oz.) was born!

We are all doing unbelievably well for a 29 week birth. They are the most perfect little angels!

Emma is breathing room air on her own now. Madelyn is breathing assisted, but she is progressing very well and they just lowered the amount of assisted breathing she was receiving to see how she does. They are keeping warm in there little isolettes, and love when mommy and daddy visit to hold their hands. It's amazing the clutches these lil' girls have. They have run a bunch of blood work from which we are still awaiting results, due to Emma showing infection in-utero. They are both on antibiotics. They will be in the NICU at Magee until 34-36 weeks gestational age, so about 5-7 weeks. It will be so hard not going home with them, but we know they are in great care here. We will be able to hold them in the next few days and offer them "kangaroo care". This is basically us holding them skin to skin on our chests. Hearing our heartbeats (especially mine that they have heard for 7 months) will comfort them, and being on our skin will help keep them warm. It will be our way of bonding with them while they are in the NICU. We can't wait to get the okay to do this!

I started pumping and have been able to get plenty of initial milk for the babies. This will do so much to help them and their health when they start eating in the next few days. They will be fed intravenously or through a feeding tube until they are able to suck and swallow on their own, which is usually around 32 weeks.

I am recovering very well. I'm extremely tired, of course. I will post our full birth story after I take my next nap. I'm being released tomorrow (insurance will only cover 2 nights), so I'll be home tomorrow night. I can't drive for 2 weeks, so it will be interesting trying to get in here every day to see my girls!

Thank you all of much for all your hopes and prayers. We have been through so much to get here and know that all of your love and support has helped us get to this point. If I haven't talked to you personally, I promise I will get to you soon!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

28.5 week belly shot

This is no beauty shot, that's for sure. We didn't take any pictures while I was in the hospital, so we wanted to make sure we got one yesterday, makeup or not :)