Saturday, December 15, 2007

Still here...

I have so much to say and so much to tell you but ever since my water broke on Monday night, it has been a whirlwind and I am just going to have to wait on a lot of it. I have never experienced so many different emotions in such a short period of time. The reality of having the babies earlier than expected and the reality of having them all in the NICU has been so much for us to handle.
To update you, the babies are doing better than most born at 31 weeks and 4 days, according to the doctors. This, however, has not really done much to ease our stress. I have to say that we have been traumatized by what we have seen and have not expected to feel this way. I feel that nothing could have prepared us for the NICU experience. After all we have been through to have these babies and all the preparation and research etc, nothing could have prepared us for this feeling of total helplessness. Just like some of you who have shared with us that have also been in our shoes, this - the NICU experience - is definitely the hardest part for us so far.
At first I felt massive guilt that I could not hold them in longer so that they could cook longer. I was in so much despair seeing them for the first time because I knew they would be doing much better if they had more time inside of me. The Neonatologists and NICU nurses all have assured me that I did a great job and that the babies look great and that they just need more time to develop. Dr. Lantry also assured me that they would have been taking them out that same day anyway because as soon as Dr. DeVore saw that Alexis was so much smaller than the boys, he would have ordered them out right away. She said that my body just knew it before DeVore did that it was time and there was nothing I could have done. I felt a little better after that. But still so overwhelmed with emotion.
Thursday night may have been the worst night of my life as it was the night I left the hospital (2 days earlier than expected). I may eventually go into the details of why this happened but right now I'll just say that it was for the best and has allowed for me to recover in a better environment so that I can be better for my babies. Anyway, Thursday night was the night I think my body finally released so much stress I had been trying to deal with. It was as if the minute I got in the car to leave the hospital, I knew I could just let go. It was an awful wheelchair ride to the car. Still looking so pregnant; in so much pain; leaving the maternity ward without babies as people stared and wondered why I wasn't holding a baby like the other mothers being wheeled out. We got on the road and I immediately started crying, harder than I think I have ever cried in my life. Crying for so many reasons (hormones, physical pain, exhaustion, etc) but mainly for leaving without my babies who were not doing as well as I had hoped they would be. We stopped at the breast-pump supply place by our house and as Brian ran in to take care of everything (he is so amazing by the way - a whole other post for another time) I called my mom and began sobbing uncontrollably. Sobbing so loudly that I was sure anyone outside could hear me wailing. I missed my babies so much and was in so much despair over leaving them. I could not find a win-win out of it all and it hurt so badly. My mom came right over and I sobbed and convulsed into her chest like I did when I was a tiny child. I know she cried too because she was hurting for me. I am glad she and my sister came over because I think it was a break for Brian - he has been keeping it together for me and I think he needed to pass the baton for a minute so he could take a breather since he too has so much on his heart (which he may talk about with you in his owm post). That night I tried to get some rest as we were both completely exhausted. I didn't get as much rest as I needed because I was trying to keep up with my strict pumping schedule. Its so tough to get up in the middle of the night to feed a machine with no babies at home. I just have to keep telling myself that its the best thing I can do for my babies.
The next day was a little better but still so hard. This constant pumping was so much (I am feeling a lot of pressure in this area that I may talk about later) and I was still in so much pain that I just wanted to sleep for days. But at the same time, I could not sleep because I could only think of my babies and being with them. We spent all of our time dealing with pumping (Brian had to help with everything because I am still healing from the surgery) and being in the NICU. Not enough rest. By bedtime, I was so exhausted and falling apart that Brian decided that he would get up and take care of all the pumping (preparing the pump and accessories for each feeding, bringing it all to me in bed, collecting in the containers that we would deliver to the NICU the next day, cleaning everything, etc.) which allowed me to just wake up, pump and lay right back down to sleep. We did this until the noon pump session today and I can't tell you how much it helped. It made such a difference to get that sleep. Just staying in bed allowed me to heal so much and feel so much better emotionally and physically. I am so grateful to have a husband so wonderful to take care of me like this. I don't know what I would do without him. This lift allowed me to be in a much better place when we went to see the babies today. Although it was still rough, I coped better.

The babies are currently stable. All 3 of them are at different stages.
Alexis, our tiny little girl, came out SCREAMING and has needed the least assistance by far. She has been the strongest and the doctors say that girls always do better in the NICU than boys. She has been breathing on her own since the beginning and is just working to put on weight and practicing her digestion. She has done well with the feedings and digesting and will hopefully soon graduate to feeding from a bottle. She has had some episodes of Apnea and Bradychardiya when she is sleeping, but only because she is so relaxed. Although she is tiny, she is doing very well and is progressing nicely. I've gotten to change her diaper and hold her a couple of times and I can't tell you how amazing that is.
Jackson started in an open air bed with a warmer but has since graduated to his own "condo" or incubator which was a wonderful upgrade! He looks better everyday, and although he is still getting some helpe with oxygen (he is on a vapotherm) it has decreased and we are hoping he will soon not need it anymore. He too is tolerating the milk well and we hope that he will not be too far behind his sister when she graduates to feeding from a bottle. He is also having some apnea and bradycardia episodes (which are SO scary for me and Brian) but his O2 saturation stays the same through each episode and the doctors are not discouraged. He gets so comfortable that he forgets to breathe. Nerve-racking for us, but expected for babies born at his gestational age. I haven't yet been able to hold him, which hurts so badly but I know he is improving quickly and its just a matter of time.
Zachary has been the one that has struggled the most with his breathing and started out needing a CPAP (pressurized oxygen) but has since been moved to vapotherm, which as I understand it is an improvement. He is needing less assistance and that is a good thing. Unfortunately we found out this afternoon that he has a little hole in his lung. This is a perfect example of the up and down of having a preemie in the NICU - you get some improvement and then something happens that makes things scary again. He has had 2 x-rays today and is having one more tomorrow to check on the progress of this. From there, the doctor will determine what will need to be done. I am praying that he will not need to be intubated (HUGE step backward) and that this hole will close itself as they sometimes do. In spite of this new scary info, his breathing looks better than it has and he is just looking better overall. Watching his tiny chest working so hard to breathe has been devastating and heart-breaking for us. I have yet to see him without bursting into tears. I want to hold him and comfort him but I can't. I would trade places with him in a heartbeat.
The doctors have told us that until the babies reach a certain point, it will feel like 2 steps forward and 1 step back sometimes but not to be discouraged. They look at the overall trend and as long as it is a positive one, this is what they look for. These babies are only 4 days old so I need to keep perspective. It will take time.
Per Brian's request, we are waiting to post pictures of the babies. He is feeling very protective of his babies and is just not ready to post pictures of them yet, so I will respect his wishes. Maybe in a couple of days.
We love these precious babies so much. I can't even believe how much love I feel. I think I read somewhere I can't remember where now) how someone felt like the grinch, whose heart grew 3 sizes when they had their babies. I feel like my heart has grown so much and I can hardly contain the love I feel for my three babies and my husband. This is tough and Brian and I are really leaning on each other and our love has grown stronger - I have never loved him so much.

I am praying every day that God gives me his strength and that he continues to protect us and our babies. I have to give all my feelings of guilt, worry, etc. over to him because I cannot carry it all and I know i am not supposed to. Its so much to let go of and I am struggling.
Please continue to pray for us and our babies.
I will have to tell you about the birth in another post. THAT was quite a day and another long post. :)

Thanks for all of your love and support - we really appreciate it so much and your comments and e-mails are wonderful and help so much. Sorry if you haven't heard back from us but we've just been so busy.

Much Love,
Cindy