Saturday, March 31, 2012

Conference Saturday

This morning, we woke up the boys at 7. Fed them as quick as possible (they were TIRED!) and left for the pediatrician's office. My poor boys didn't know what was about to hit them, but it was time to be circumcised... ouch.

I've never heard them cry like that.

Hard as it was, I loved being able to calm them down. It made me feel like a Mother. Diaper changes and getting up in the middle of the night and snapping pictures of these cute boys make me feel like a Mom. Really soothing my little ones and knowing how much they need me? That makes me feel like a Mother.

The traumatic experience helped them learn how to hold on to my hand pretty quickly. They used to hold my finger every now and again, but now both of them hold on tight. I love that they know me.

We drove around for about 45 minutes after the appointment to help them get to sleep, which resulted in stopping to pick up smoothies and croissant sandwiches for breakfast. After we got home, conference was about to start so Cam and I each cuddled a boy and hit the couch. All the crying has completely exhausted my poor boys. We've had to spend at least 20 minutes waking them up for each feeding and then a time or two during the feeding we have to wake them up again.

The first session of conference was incredible. I'm sure the second was too, but all 4 of us were knocked out for it. Deep, blissful sleep. Everyone touching another member of the family.

Our little family.

Lots of love in this little living room of ours.

On another happy note, I really struggle to find anything on these boys that looks like me. My sister mentioned the day they were born that Gray had my little toe. I know that sounds silly, but my pinky toe curls under itself completely, like an eagle claw. I finally noticed it again today. Little Gray has my claw toe! Makes me so happy. Also, makes me happy that I can actually prove to my mom that it is, in fact, genetic, and that I didn't just wear too small of shoes all growing up.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Scenes from the NICU

I have a sister that lives in Denver. (Hi Linds!) She has not been able to come out and meet the boys yet. She has also brought to my attention just how terrible I am at sending pictures. I also kind of fell off the map while we were in the NICU, but those 10 days deserve to be remembered.

Sunday morning after the boys were born, we had just finished the most successful breastfeeding of the past 2 days with our wonderful nurse Kimberlie. She left and I started pumping to help get my supply up when the door opens and a man I've never seen before comes in. I am completely exposed, but he doesn't leave. He then proceeds to talk down to me and tell me that my perfect, healthy, beautiful boys are being admitted to the NICU. He tells me that according to his chart they're just not doing well enough. All the while, my chest is completely bare, Cameron is in the corner with Nash unable to do anything about it, and I just keep saying "Ok." to get him to leave. If my boys need some extra help, that's fine, but do NOT talk down to me like I don't know my own children and that your "chart" will explain everything. You do not know me. You do not know my boys. He had the gall to mention how great it would be to have the boys in the NICU because if I'm "too tired" to come for a late feeding they can "just give them a bottle of formula." This being said to me after I've completely killed myself to get my milk in after 48 hours on magnesium sulfate did not go over well, to say the least.  Also, have the decency, you complete JERK to come back in 5 minutes when I've finished pumping and can cover up like EVERYONE ELSE does who accidentally comes in during that time. He finally leaves and I call my nurse, Kimberlie, in. I was NOT happy.

When Kimberlie came in, I was pretty angry. She completely understood. She had seen the pediatrician in the hallway and he mentioned to her that the boys needed to be admitted to the NICU for 12 days. She turned to him and said "Do not tell that mom 12 days. She will tear you apart." Kimberlie then went to the NICU with me and Cam to meet the boys' new nurse. She also got the boys the bed right next to the window across the hall from my room. I would be sleeping 10 feet away from them and could peek through the window at them whenever I wanted. Kimberlie was amazing.

My doctor came in and checked my blood pressure, which was still high (go figure.) Kimberlie had told him what happened with the pediatrician and the Dr. said that they needed to keep me for another day for monitoring and that they would contact my insurance to let them know there was a medical need.

In a matter of 10 minutes, I had been told that I was being discharged that day and my boys were coming home with me, that I was being discharged that day and my boys were NOT coming home with me, to I was not being discharged that day and my boys were not coming home with me.

I also requested that said JERK of a pediatrician not evaluate my boys ever again nor speak to me about their progress. The nurse asked which pediatrician. I don't even remember his name, but when Kimberlie told her, she looked at me and said "we get requests like this all the time about him. His bedside manner really sucks."

Cameron was a complete star during all this. He kept acting the part of the excited dad, which I needed. I was doing all I could to keep it together and put my brave face on. I was told the boys needed feeding tubes placed. I didn't want to be there alone when they placed them. Cameron was there. So was my brave face.

I think the boys knew that I wasn't very OK at this point too, because Gray didn't even wake up when his tube was placed and Nash calmed down as soon as he heard my voice. It's really nice to be reminded that among all the monitors and tubes and nurses, they still need me because I am their mom.

Once things settled down a bit, I got to cuddle with my boys. I was able to wrap my head around things a little bit better. We had a wonderful nurse who set clear goals and milestones to accomplish in order to get these boys home. What was going on, that I didn't understand was yes, the boys were eating well, but they were burning more calories than they were taking in at each feeding, which means they would just continue to lose weight. Especially because my milk hadn't come in yet, this would just get more and more dangerous and they would continue to lose strength until real problems started to show up. My milk was delayed even further because of that stupid magnesium sulfate and the blood transfusion that had to happen the night before. So, we weren't expecting my milk for another 3 days at the earliest.

Seeing as my milk coming in was step 1 in getting these boys home, I was up for anything to get it to come in earlier. My aunt stopped by to visit me and the boys and mentioned Alfalfa supplements. My mom and her were apparently thinking on the same wavelength because 2 hours later, my mom brought lunch and a whole bottle of Alfalfa. I took 3 capsules and the next time I pumped I had quadrupled my supply. Considering I was getting about 1 mL each time, going up to 4 mLs was a big deal. We fed the boys whatever I pumped through their feeding tubes using syringes.

The goal was to eventually get my boys to the point where they were strong enough to take 8 full feedings every 24 hours without using the tube. We started trying 1 breastfeeding in every 4 feedings. Between feedings, I would just pump like mad to try and increase supply. Adding in the Alfalfa, we were in business. My milk came in within 24 hours! Boom. (Shameless plug for Alfalfa. By the day my boys came home from the NICU, the lactation specialist looked at my pump record and said that I had somehow convinced my body that I had had 4 babies instead of 2. We are not lacking in milk over here. :))

Every evening, they would weigh the boys to make sure they were gaining weight and not burning too many calories.

When I wasn't feeding them, we were to let them get as deep of sleep as possible while still being loved on as much as possible. I liked the loving on them part.

We had to limit our visitors to 4, so we picked my parents and Cam's parents to be able to come in to the NICU with us. My dad got sick toward the end of the week though, so even he had to stay outside. They were very strict around these early babies. It was a good thing, but I think the first 2 days of the boys being considered "well babies" and being able to be held by anyone really spoiled me. Still, it was good to know the boys were being protected from as many germs as possible while they tried to get stronger.

My mom was a complete life saver during our time in the NICU. She came with me every morning (Cam went back to work so he could take a couple days off when the boys came home) and sat with me during feedings, loved on the boys, was willing to stay in the NICU Parents' Lounge overnight when we got kicked out of our hospital room (we chose to go home and get some rest instead...major breakdown involved), brought breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the hospital and coordinated meals with ward members. She listened to my freak outs and understood when the "hormones were talking" instead of me. I couldn't have made it through this time without her. The best thing she said? "They don't want to raise your children." Sometimes it's hard to remember that the doctors and nurses are not the bad guys, especially when they were the ones keeping me from bringing my boys home. Remembering the boys weren't going to be in there forever was hard sometimes. That sentence "They don't want to raise your children." brought me a lot of peace.

Once the boys got stronger, we got to do more for them. Change diapers, do baths, change monitors, take temperatures, etc. Our favorite bath time was with our nurse Kaye. She was so fun with our boys. Posing them, oohing over them, she was as excited as we were.

I started learning my boys' quirks more and more and learned so many tricks to help them wake up and focus on eating. Gray had a hard time remembering how to use his tongue, so we would practice with my pinky before eating every time. Nash hated being looked at while he ate, so he started putting his arm over his face. The next time he stalled out at 7 minutes and refused to eat any more, I put his arm over his face and he finished the feeding. He cracks me up. Gray has started to do the same. It makes me laugh that my boys "keep me modest."

Once they got 25% of their feedings down, we moved up to 50% of their feedings. Gray did great. Nash did not. And the nurse started talking to us about what to do if Nash couldn't keep up. They would have to send Gray home if he was ready. Cameron gave Nash a blessing to help him have the strength to eat and be able to come home with Gray. Nash didn't miss another feeding.

One morning, the doctor called to update me on their progress. (He usually came by before I arrived at the hospital.) He said "if both boys do all 8 feedings today, they can go home tomorrow." I was bound and determined to make that happen. I laid my head down next to my boys and gave them a pep talk. I let them know that if they did their very best today we could get rid of all the wires and tubes and could go home. No sooner had I stood back up that Nash ripped his feeding tube out of his face.

At the next feeding, Gray ate like such a maniac that the sounds made me laugh right out loud. I sent the following text to Cam:

"Gave the boys a pep talk. They're wrapped in OUR blankets, dressed in OUR clothes, Nash ripped his feeding tube out and Gray is eating like a maniac. We've all got our war guns blazin' today!"

next text:

"My mom is threatening to pull Gray's feeding tube out and making it look like an accident..."

Moms are the best. :)

We were bustin' out of the hospital! I was so done being there, my boys were so done being there, I know my mom was so done being there, though she'd never say so. The boys took 3 straight feedings beautifully. On the 4th feeding, Nash BARELY scraped by. And I was nervous. Between the 4th and 5th feeding, I needed to decide whether I was going to stay at the hospital that night to do the remaining feedings or if the nurse would just give them bottles of breastmilk. I desperately needed rest, but I really needed to know the nurse was going to give my boys a fair shot and not give up on them. We needed to be home! Cam and I went upstairs to pray about it and decided to wait and see how Nash did during the 5th feeding and let that determine if I stayed there or not.

Nash downed the 5th feeding like a champ.

I went home and got some great sleep.

The next morning, we got a phone call from our nurse, Paula. "The boys have been cleared and can go home whenever you get here!"

20 minutes later we were on our way.

The boys could wear pants for the first time because all their monitors were finally off and we had double the cheeks to kiss! So glad to have those feeding tubes out.


On the way home, we stopped at our chiropractor so everyone could get adjusted. It felt so great to lay on my stomach and feel balanced again! The boys did great, and I will say that since then they're eating and sleeping even better than they did. I'm sure being out of the hospital is playing a major factor here too, but I know the adjustment is largely responsible for that. At their follow-up appointment the next day, they had both gained over 3 oz.!

When we got home, we had a great feeding and cut the hospital bands off.

We're so glad to all be in the same place! It was 100% worth the wait, though. Our boys couldn't be doing better. We are just crazy about them.

Thank you for all your prayers and support (and yummy food!) during this time.

Also, Jerky Pediatrician, my boys were in the NICU for 9.5 days. Not 12. Put that on your chart.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Peace & Quiet

The boys are 2 weeks old today. Since their birth day, things have been so crazy. I have had to be up, showered, dressed and out the door every single morning, when all I really wanted to do was sit and love on my boys. This morning, I got to do just that. No trips to the NICU, no doctor's appointments, no visitors. Just our little guys and some beautiful living room sunshine.

I have yet to brush my teeth or put regular clothes on. It's the most peaceful, sweet morning I've ever had. And my boys were looking as handsome as ever.

Gosh I am in love.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


So happy to be all together in one place.

Worth the wait.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Well Hello Sweet Boys!

What an incredible few days. I can't believe how crazy everything was from my last update really I'll just pick up where that left off.

Thursday began the 24 hour urine collection. (Count yourselves lucky if you've never had to do that...I felt like a toddler in potty training). I was actually really frustrated because I had to spend all day Thursday in the hospital and they only monitored the boys for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening. The boys had great heart rates and took contractions perfectly. They were PERFECT so why was I still here? Every time I saw the doctor, the only information we got was "I'll come back to check on you in 4/6/2 hours." So annoying. There was very little communication. I am quite capable of keeping my feet up at home, thank you very much. The nurses came in to check my blood pressure a ton and it was always within normal range. So I called my friend Julie, who is a labor and delivery nurse in Arizona. She explained to me that if I were her patient, I would be sitting exactly where I was and that you don't mess around with toxemia. She was grateful I had a good doctor who understood the risks. And she finally helped me understand that the Dr. was worried about ME, not my boys.

Thursday night, I didn't get a minute of sleep. Every time I started to doze off, a nurse or lab tech or housekeeping person would come in and poke and prod me. Then, if I ever went to the bathroom (which happens every 40 minutes or so...) I had to call the nurse and wait for them to add it to the collection to be tested in the morning. The collection ended about 1:30 am. Test results were expected to be back within a couple hours. At 6:30 in the morning, my nurse walked in. She had the most even-toned voice ever and said without any sense of urgency: "We got the results back from your urine collection. Normal protein levels are in the 150s. Your levels are well over 2 thousand, so a labor and delivery nurse will come down to get you and we're going to induce you this morning." And then she walked out.

Since we'd always had 2/4/6 hours in between being told something and it actually happening, Cam crawled into the bed with me and we cuddled and fell back asleep. 10 minutes later the labor and delivery nurse arrived, flipped on the lights and asked if we were ready to go. Cam jumped up and packed up most of our stuff. I got in the wheelchair and upstairs we went. I was hooked up to an entire tree of IVs by 7:15. I had a bag of regular fluids, a bag of pitocin to start the induction, a bag of magnesium sulfate to reduce my stroke threshold due to the toxemia, and a bag of zofran to help with the nausea caused by the magnesium sulfate.

Things went slowly for quite a while. Apparently, magnesium sulfate is also used to stop preterm labor, so it counteracts the pitocin, which meant I was over the max dose of pitocin in about 2 hours and my contractions still weren't regular or very effective. The dr. came in to break my water at around 1:30 hoping that would help move things along. It did, but barely. The dr. had told me that because of my toxemia, I had to have an epidural no matter what because we couldn't risk me being in enough pain to spike my blood pressure and send me into shock/seizure/stroke. I got the epidural at around 4 pm, when they checked me I was at a 4...barely.

From then on out, things really picked up. I took a nap until I was 6 cms. The dr. came in and said that he was going to take his wife out to dinner at a chinese place down the street, but would be back to check me soon. He came back, I was an 8. And my epidural wore off. Not fun. Because we really couldn't have me at risk for a blood pressure increase, the anesthesiologist had to re-dose my epidural 4 times before things got under control. So...many....drugs! About 20 minutes after my Dr. announced that I was at an 8, I turned to Cam and said "Nash just dropped. I want to push." And Cam called the nurse. Sure enough, I was a 10 and completely effaced. I pushed through about 4 contractions, the nurse announced she could see the head and off we went to the operating room. I was on a serious adrenaline rush by this point.

Suddenly, there were people everywhere. Teams of nurses flooded the room, my dr. and another OB from his office were right next to me. Cameron was suited up in a white jumpsuit, the ultrasound machine was to my left. I caught sight of two bassinets and things became far more real.

After pushing through the next contraction, the nurse told Cameron to look because you could see the head. I asked him how far away the head was and he said it was right there. One more contraction and I got through all 3 pushes, the nurse said I was still contracting and could push a fourth time if I wanted to. I said lets go for it and the entire team bore down with me. Nash was here! The doctor turned him to face me. Oh he was beautiful! I watched Cameron cut the umbilical cord and a team of nurses took my little boy to run a few tests to make sure he didn't need any immediate attention.

My focus immediately switched to Gray.

It was a little weird at this point, because my uterus was half empty. There was so much room in there and Gray hadn't dropped yet. I was contracting but I couldn't feel a thing because my uterus wasn't pushing against anything. A few minutes later, Gray dropped and I was good to go. The dr. broke my water again. Two contractions later, my little Gray was here! He came out with his fist above his head and the Dr. had to turn him between the two contractions. That was probably the most painful part of the entire labor. Cameron cut his cord and a team of nurses took him to check his vitals.

Around this time, one of the nurses brought my little Nash back to let me hold. Meanwhile, I delivered the placentas and started losing a lot of blood. My adrenaline was dropping. I handed Nash off to Cameron and assured Cameron that I was only closing my eyes because I was tired, and that he shouldn't worry. There was plenty of reason to worry. Because of the conflicting medications and the extremely high dose of pitocin I was on to get labor going, my body didn't react to the dose of pitocin I was given to shrink my uterus down and stop the bleeding. The next thing I knew I was flat on my back with an oxygen mask over my face and really fighting to stay awake.

The nurse got me some juice and tried to prop me up in the bed, but I was far from ok. I got stitched up and they pumped up the fluids in my IV. Once I was stable, they wheeled me around to the elevator and took me downstairs to the nursery so I could see my beautiful boys. I wasn't able to sit up so they wheeled my entire bed around the nursery. I touched Gray for the first time and said hello to Nash again. And then I went back to my recovery room for the night.

Things weren't good. I had to stay on the magnesium sulfate for 24 hours to watch my blood pressure. Nurses came in over and over again to check my fluids, blood pressure, reflexes, and other vitals. I didn't get a bit of sleep, but I was so tired. The magnesium sulfate apparently does that to you, exhausts you but keeps you from sleeping deeply. The next morning, the nurses brought my boys in to see me. They were healthy and pink and perfect. I still didn't feel very good, but a few hours of being with the boys lifted my spirits so much. We enjoyed our first Saturday morning together (amid more vitals checks and blood draws).

I still wasn't improving, though, so breastfeeding was not an option. It broke my heart. Saturday night I had a 6-hour blood transfusion and got off the magnesium sulfate. Things are much better now. Like all newborn babies, they dropped a portion of their body weight over the first day. Because they don't have a great deal of weight available to lose, they're in the NICU right now to get extra help with feeding. Scary as it was to get the news that they needed to be transferred there, it really is a great situation. They have no other issues and I know my babies are getting enough to eat now. Also, it's more of a breastfeeding bootcamp for me. I get 1 on 1 help from the best lactation specialists and nurses at every feeding and they're working with me to overcome the effects of the magnesium sulfate from the first 24 hours of my babies' little lives. We've already made tons of progress and I am so thrilled.

I truly can't believe they're here and that they are ours! I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, and while things didn't go exactly as I dreamed they would, I couldn't be happier. We are all here. We are all healthy. We are all happy.