Friday, January 25, 2008

update and some quick cuteness

Lots has happened this week but I've just been too tired to post. Quick updates:

- Alexis has been moved to an open crib. The whole NICU is a little louder now :) They keep increasing her feedings and she is tolerating them well. I got to breastfeed her (she was the only one that I hadn't been able to breastfeed yet) and she did great! In fact, she loved it. She also LOVES taking a bath. Its like her own little spa treatment. :) She has finally passed the 5 lb mark! She is on the fast track to come home! She's got some real tummy issues right now (her intenstines lack the involuntary movements that most of us have that help us digest) and they are painful for her. Zachary has the same issue. Poor little things. This is something typical with prematurity and they will hopefully grow out of it very soon.

-Zachary is slowly increasing his feedings but is having a really hard time with sucking. He just doesn't seem to have figured out how to drink from the bottle or breast, yet. The physical therapists are working diligently with him to help him improve his skills. Everything is fine; just a steeper learning curve for premature babies. He weighs just shy of 7lbs! He is the sweetest baby ever and loves to "socialize". He suffers from pretty bad reflux -as many preemies do- and is still on reglan (medication to help him digest better) like his brother and sister.

- Jackson did NOT come home this week. He had an abnormal pneumogram and is now getting further testing. In the meantime, we know that when he does come home, he will do so with a home monitor. We had a training session today to learn how to use the monitor. It sucks. I hate that he needs the monitor. He's been having lots more apnea and bradycardia spells, especially during feedings. Its like he just doesn't want to leave without his sister and brother. We have been working with the physical therapists at each feeding session to figure out a way for him to feed without these huge dips. Its a lot of work and it is stressful. I want my baby to be OK. There are further tests being run and we may get to take him home next week. We'll see. In the meantime, he is on ad lib feedings and has gained TONS of weight. He currently weighs 7lbs 15 oz! Chunker! He's is so chunky and cute! Oh, and he no longer has a feeding tube. I am sure he is happy about that too. :)

Everyone continues to be on the same medication (basically caffeine) for their apnea and bradycardia. I cannot wait until that business stops. The alarms going off when they STOP BREATHING or have huge heartrate dips is enough to keep us sweating.

I am missing them so much. I spend hours and hours with them at the NICU and I still miss them. Its hard to parent your children when they still have special needs and you need help from doctors, nurses and physical therapists just to do the normal things you would do with your baby. All day long is spent learning how to manage each of the things they struggle with so I can manage it at home. Although they look bigger and much healthier than before, they are still premature babies and still struggle to gain some of the skills that regular term babies are just born with (e.g. the ability to suck from a bottle or breast). They are still growing into some of the involuntary things that we all take for granted as well. Regulating their own body temperature, remembering to keep breathing, keeping their hearts beating, etc...these are some of the involuntary things that their brains have not yet 'clicked' with. Parenting NICU babies (three of them!!!) is a lot more challenging than I expected. Its so hard for me to leave them every day. Tonight I cried while holding one of them (its been a while since I've cried) because I am just so tired and I am so bummed that my babies still need to live in the hospital. I know I am not supposed to still feel this way but I can't help but wish I could have kept them in longer. I know they would have had to spend MUCH LESS time in NICU if they could have cooked longer. I know its irrational but Its the very first mom guilt I ever felt and it is still with me. Six weeks is a long time to watch your babies grow in plastic boxes and to have to walk away from them every night and drive home without them.
The pumping is still going well. I hate it I hate it I hate it but I am glad that I have been able to produce enough to feed them for a long while. The freezer (we have a freezer that is exclusively dedicated to storing breastmilk thanks to a donation from a family friend) is PACKED full with milk. And according to the doctors, nurses and lactation consultants, I produce gobs of milk per day so it will keep filling it for a while. I am SO GLAD I kept up with it that first week because I was able to stimulate a good supply and when the time came for me to finally be able to put each baby on the breast, it was breathtakingly wonderful for me. Worth every tearful and lonely 3am pump session and the awful and un-natural feeling of trying to stimulate milk with screwed up hormones, and no babies to hold. I will definitely have to dedicate a post to that experience someday. I still owe you a post about my baby shower way back in OCTOBER, labor and birth, and the NICU experience. They will come, but not anytime soon. Anyway, pumping is still going well and I plan to continue until we decide that I don't want to do it anymore. I am also supplementing with fomula (we have been all along) so that when the time comes that I am done and the frozen supply runs out, they will have been acclimated to digesting formula and it won't be such a difficult transition on their tummies. I know I've probably shared more that I need to since EVERYONE has their strong opinions on this matter but this is what we have decided is best for us and our children. We don't care what anyone else thinks - not to sound crappy or anything. :) I do believe that one of the most important things for me - or anyone that decides to try and establish a milk supply from the breast - is having lots of support and positive reinforcement. This is another place that my husband shined and actually took me by surprise with his level of commitment and support. This was not a thing that I had to do by myself but was something that we are both involved in. I'll have to save it for the post where I actually go into details about my experience. And yes, I'll probably be as candid about my lactating experience as I was with my pregnancy posts. :)
Otherwise, we are still busy and tired and happy. We haven't eaten a meal at home in I don't know how long. I know that sounds terrible but it is what works best for us at the moment. By the time dinnertime comes, I am still at the NICU after being there all day and Brian is rushing there from work to meet me and see the babies for just a few minutes before dinnertime and the nurse shift change (which is when the NICU closes from 6pm to 7:30pm). By then we are both too exhausted and frankly not willing to cook and create a mess that neither of us have time to we grab a quick bite out and run to the NICU to see the babies for the evening. More time spent cleaning is less time with the babies. And we just miss them too much to spend any less time with them. We know this will drastically change when a baby comes home so for now I am enjoying being able to eat outside of my house and share these quick meals with my husband.
Its time to pump again so I gotta run but before I leave, here's Miss Alexis:
Sweet little Alexis.
She was so deliciously cute at this moment as she was charming the pants off her grandfather (Brian's dad) and trying to convince him of how sweet she is and also convince him not to listen to the rumors of her high maintenance reputation. Look at how squishy her little face is. I really wanted to chew on her tiny little cheeks.
five seconds later...and then she cracked.

That's my girl.
Much Love,
P.S. I've got a million e-mails to return - and I will return them - sorry if its taken a while for me to get back to you but I read everything and I love the support. Thank you so much.