Monday, March 31, 2014

Madeline and Molly's Birth Story: Part 2

Part 1

I went back to see Dr P on Thursday, February 20.  This time my BP had risen (155/105) and even after laying on my left side for several minutes it was still very high.  Everyday since the previous Thursday we had discussed delivery, so I was sure when I saw my BP numbers she would discuss a c-section for that evening.  Instead she opted for admission to the hospital with overnight continuous monitoring and blood work every 6 hours.  I was really pleased with this decision because it was the best of both worlds: if I needed to deliver I was already at the hospital and we could go ahead with the c-section, and if my preeclampsia was manageable then I could stay pregnant for another day.  I was honestly happy with both of those options.

So they got my admitted and checked into my room (4018) at Methodist that afternoon.  I wasn't allowed to eat anything since a c-section was always an option at any point.  I was allowed water, ice chips, popsicles, and sherbert which I took full advantage of! My blood work came back that evening and my liver enzymes were starting to rise, meaning I was showing signs of HELLP Syndrome.  The nurse said she thought I would deliver in the next 24 hours.

Around 2:00am on Friday, February 21 they did my blood work again.  I didn't sleep much overnight because I was just feeling terrible.  I remember crying and pleading with God to either deliver the babies or help me to feel better.  I was at rock bottom and just could not take anymore.  I wanted my girls to stay put for several more weeks, but thinking I was hours away from delivery for over a week was taking it's toll on me. On top of that I was worrying about my blood pressure and my health constantly, which I'm sure didn't help my pressures the entire time.  When my results from my blood work came back that my platelets had dropped I knew delivery was imminent and I actually got to sleep for about 2 hours.  The relief that my pregnancy was almost over was a huge weight lifted off of me and I no longer stressed about me dying and leaving Matt with 3 kids to raise (my worst fear the entire pregnancy.)

Dr P texted me about 6:30 and told me it was go time! She was off that day but was going to head into the hospital to deliver me as soon as she was available.  I was so thankful that she was willing to come in on her day off.  Knowing that she was going to be the doctor on the other side of the curtain from me in the operating room helped to keep me calm while we were waiting the rest of the morning.

I spent the next 30 minutes calling all of our family to try to get them up to the hospital in time.  Believe it or not my first call was not to Matt but actually to his dad! He asked me the night before if it was safe for him to go fishing Friday morning at a lake about 2 hours away from the hospital.  I told him yes and had a mild panic attack when I realized he was out of town.  Luckily I caught him just as he was about to put his boat in the water and he turned around and made it to the hospital in time for us to walk back into the operating room.  Next I called Matt who was already at work for the day.  It was a half-day of school for him and his classes ended at 9:38, so I told him to stay at work and he should be able to come up to the hospital after classes ended.  At 7:30 the nurse walked in and told me I was scheduled for c-section at 9:00am.  Oops!! So I immediately called Matt back and told him to scramble around for a substitute and get his butt to the hospital.  By this time school had started so he was freaking out worrying about me, worrying about getting a sub and making sub plans, and getting to the hospital on time.  We lucked out and he walked in about 8:30.  PawPaw, Mama K, Nana, Carter and Aunt Stephanie all got there shortly thereafter and then we were whisked off to the operating room.

I walked into the OR shortly after 9:00am.  They quickly administered my spinal and got me positioned on the table covered by the warming blankets.  It took them awhile to get the rest of the OR set up and I remember thinking about how Matt was probably stressing outside the OR because it was taking so long for the nurses to come and get him.  I had the absolute sweetest anesthesiologist who sat and talked to me about anything and everything. She kept my mind off things while I was being prepped and talked me through what Dr P was doing during the actual surgery.  She was invaluable and made the entire process so easy.  I'm eternally grateful to her for the way she treated me that day.

Matt says he walked into the OR about 9:40.  It was very cramped with two isolettes and the NICU team in the room, as well as the nurses and doctors.  Matt was having to crouch down very close next to me to be sure he didn't see anything over the curtain.  I didn't even know they had started the surgery until I felt the tugging and pulling in my abdomen.  All of a sudden I felt them pull Madeline out and I told Matt "She's out! Madeline is out!"  We didn't hear anything but our hospital has TV screens where you can watch the baby on the isolette.  Sure enough, there she was laying on the isolette being cared for by the NICU team.  About that time we heard her cries. And I remember just staring at her and being stunned at how much she looked like Carter! I kept telling Matt through my tears "She looks just like Carter!" Madeline Kate was born at 9:46am weighing 4 pounds 4 ounces and measuring 16.5 inches long.

Right after Madeline was born I felt them tugging and pulling for Molly.  This went on for a long time and it was obvious they were struggling to get her out.  I swear she was wrapped around my rib! I heard Dr P say "you grab that arm, I'll get this leg, now pull" to the other doctor.  Molly came out screaming and joined her sister in the isolette next to her.  We couldn't see them both on the TV at the same time so Matt went over to be with them.  From what I could see of Molly she looked different from Madeline and I could tell she was much smaller.  They announced both girls Apgar scores to be 8 and 9.  Molly Ann was born at 9:49am weighing 3 pounds 10 ounces and measuring 17 inches long.

It didn't take long for NICU to decide that Madeline needed assistance breathing and they whisked her off to the NICU.  I knew they would both likely need assistance breathing so I tried my best to focus on Molly and not worry about them.  Matt was stuck over by the isolettes and couldn't get to the side Molly was on through all the people.  He was able to see them operating on me which was his one request NOT to happen during this c-section.  He decided to go to the NICU with Madeline, which I'm so glad he did so she wasn't by herself.

Molly was stable and after getting cleaned off was brought to me while Dr P finished stitching me up.  By now I was by myself on that side of the curtain so I was able to just sit and stare at her.  It was such a precious moment for me.  I talked to her and told her all about Carter and me and her dad.  She quickly closed her eyes and just slept while I held her.  Eventually the anesthesiologist came back over and asked if I wanted a picture.  She took a picture on her phone and emailed it to me right there on the spot.  To this day it's my favorite picture from their birthday.
(It looks very yellow in this picture but it doesn't look that way in person)

Not only did I have a twin c-section that day, but I also had my tubes tied and kept my placenta(s).  I don't know if Matt and I are done having kids, but I know I'm done birthing them.  It's just too hard on my body and too dangerous for me to ever be pregnant again.  I feel good about this decision because we could still do IVF and use a surrogate if we decide we want another child with our DNA.  We've also discussed adoption at some point (I'm more interested in this option than he is.)  Either way if we decide to have more kids we could make it happen without my tubes.  I also got my placentas (since the girls were fraternal they each had their own placenta, therefore leaving me with two placentas) encapsulated.  This was a personal decision that I'm very happy with and seeing wonderful results from.  It's definitely "out there" and not mainstream, but I would highly recommend it to anyone who is pregnant or plans on being pregnant again.  Getting my tubes tied and keeping my placentas made my surgery a little longer than a normal c-section.  After it was all over Dr P handed me my tubes (they were in small containers ready to go to pathology) and let me hold them to ensure they were truly gone! It was pretty cool! She also arranged for my placentas to get put on ice and taken back to my room.

To be continued...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Madeline and Molly's Birth Story: Part 1

After my first stay in labor & delivery at 26 weeks I was placed on strict bed rest with the option of moving to modified bed rest at 30 or 32 weeks.  Bed rest with a toddler under two years old is really a misnomer; there was not much bed resting going on, although I never picked him up.  My mother in law would take him to and from school on Monday and Wednesday, although I was still on my own with him in the mornings and afternoons.  My mom would come over to help on Tuesdays and Carter would go stay with my in laws on Thursdays and Fridays.  Carter is in a very clingy stage where he really wants me to do everything, which only compounded the bed rest issue.  But I was determined to make it to 36 weeks with this pregnancy (a week further than I made it with Carter) so I did my very best to take it easy and let things go.

On Monday, February 10 at my 31-week appointment things were looking great.  I had been on bed rest for 5 weeks with minor contractions, but my cervix still looked great! At this point I was receiving ultrasounds weekly and also got my second round of steroids.  I was really anxious to make it to my appointment the following week so I could officially be moved to modified bed rest, even though that's what I was pretty much doing already.

On Wednesday, February 12 I noticed some swelling in my feet and lower legs that reminded me a lot of the swelling I had with Carter at the time of delivery.  I spent most of that night in the bathtub, drinking water, elevating my feet and using my essential oils for swelling and preeclampsia.

On Thursday, February 13 the swelling was still there in the morning (red flag #1) so I called Nana to bring over a blood pressure cuff on her way to pick up Carter.  Around 10am I took my blood pressure and it was 150/102 (red flag #2.)  I immediately called Dr P's nurse to tell her what was happening and made an appointment for a couple of hours later.  I spent the rest of that time packing my hospital bag and cleaning up the house.

When I got to the office they started with a weight check, blood pressure check, and urine test.  I had steadily been gaining about a pound per week the entire pregnancy, and now I had gained 4 pounds since my appointment on Monday.  My blood pressure was 145/95 and my urine test came back positive for protein.  Swelling + high BP + weight gain + protein in my urine = preeclampsia.  Shit.  This is not at all what I wanted to hear and spent several minutes crying when Dr P came into my room to tell me the news.  She reassured me that as long as my BP didn't spike any higher, my blood work came back okay, and my protein levels were low enough that I could stay pregnant awhile longer.  However, if my test results came back and she didn't like my numbers we would have to go ahead and deliver the girls that night.  I don't think I have ever prayed so hard as I drove myself to the hospital for monitoring.  I remember being really calm as I called Matt, my mom and Nana, but when those phone calls were over I broke down in a big way.  I did NOT want to deliver the twins at 31 weeks. I did NOT want to have preeclampsia again.  I especially did NOT want the pre-e to turn into HELLP Syndrome like last time.  And I really did NOT want to deliver the girls on Sara's birthday, a day she holds sacred.  There was a lot of bargaining with God for the rest of the day as I waited for test results.

I got to the hospital and they took me to triage where I was hooked up to the monitors for a non-stress test, they re-did my urinalysis and performed blood work.  The results from the blood work were the most important as they would tell if my liver and platelet levels were too high or low, which would be an immediate determinant for delivery.  All of this took several hours and, eventually, Matt was able to leave work to come meet me.  He was especially freaking out so by that time I had to be in control enough to comfort him.

Thankfully, my test results came back in the early evening and everything was stable enough that I could go home.  My BP was high but stable, and I needed to continue to monitor that as well as change my BP medicine.  The urinalysis came back with only trace levels of protein so I needed to come back on Friday for a 24-hour urine test.  And my blood work came back perfect, so we were not yet worried about HELLP Syndrome.  At this point Dr P felt it was more important to keep me pregnant with frequent monitoring than deliver, and I agreed.  I wanted to stay pregnant as long as possible.

Thursday and Friday I completely my 24-hour urine collection and turned that back into the hospital, along with more monitoring.  Again everything looked manageable so I left with strict instructions to stay in bed all weekend and come back for my appointment on Monday.

Over the weekend I never changed out of my pajamas and rested as much as possible.  I took my BP every 4 hours and averaged about 135/95 pressures.  I never experienced headaches, blurred vision, or saw spots, all signs of preeclampsia.

On Monday, February 17 I went into see Dr P for my 32-week checkup.  All of my symptoms were still the same...swelling, more weight gain, higher than normal BP, and positive protein test.  She sent me in for more monitoring and blood work.  They came back within normal ranges and Tuesday I repeated my 24-hour urine test.

I spent the day on Wednesday, February 19 finishing some last-minute things around the house and getting my hospital bag completely packed.  It took me several hours to do this as I would only let myself out of bed for 15 minutes at a time.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Since I've been back to blogging I have started at December and worked my way forward to this point.  Since I back-dated most of my posts they probably have not been showing up for many who have been reading.  Here is an index of the posts I have done with a link to their location.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Madeline and Molly: One Month

Madeline Kate and Molly Ann,
You are ONE MONTH old today! It's so hard to believe that you have already been here a whole month, yet we should still have one more month until you are due.  Crazy! Our first month together has been busy and calm all at once; busy running to and from the NICU, and calm sitting and rocking you as much as we can.  We dreamt about what it would be like to have daughters, twin daughters at that, and y'all have grown our hearts larger than we knew possible.  We love having y'all here, we love seeing Carter as a big brother, and we love having daughters.  Love, love, love! 


We've only known each other a short while, but you seem to be our calm and content baby (just as you were in my belly) never letting out so much as a whimper.  You eat well and sleep well, and love to be held.  You were  born bigger and have stayed bigger, but your feisty little sister is trying her hardest to catch up with you.  

From the moment we saw you on the screen in the operating room we thought you were the spitting image of your older brother.  Your skin coloring, hair coloring, and facial expressions are identical.  Although you and your sister have the same birthday, you are truly your brothers twin.  It's funny because since Carter has been born we always have tried to decide who he looks more like, me or your dad.  No one can agree or decide where his looks came from, but now that we have TWO children that look alike, it's obvious our DNA makes this mold.  

The nurses all adore you and fight to get to take care of you and your sister daily.  Even though you were early you were perfect, and we have pretty easy days together.  You take all of your feeds through a tube or a bottle and always do great.  And let's just say your digestive system works great.  :)  


My darling youngest daughter, you are feisty and headstrong (just as you were in my belly) always letting us know you are in the room.  You came out screaming and are always keeping us on our toes, just like your older brother.  If it were allowed in the NICU you would demand to be held all the time, alas we settle for a few shorter stints together each day.  You will definitely be a "people person" as you light up as soon as someone starts talking to you.  

Your sister might look like your brother, but you, my dear, look just like your Daddy.  Your dark hair, big (blue) eyes and smaller face are all spitting image of your Daddy.  I love that you can look like your Daddy and such a girly princess all at the same time.  Shakespeare said it best "though she be but little, she is fierce."  Maybe A Midsummer Night's Dream will be your favorite play? 

You are the petite little princess that all the nurses love to come and visit with everyday.  You are happy to look around your room or sleep all day, but will let us know if you are hungry or need to be changed.  You still take all of your feeds through a tube or bottle and sometimes need help to finish all of your milk. You love your purple paci!

Our darling baby girls,
Your daddy and I cannot express in words how much we love you.  We are so proud of how hard you have fought to be healthy and we know you will be happy to go home soon.  We didn't expect our hearts to grow so exponentially, but y'all have shown us how to love even more than we knew we could.  We love you to the moon and back.

Madeline 1 month Stats
Weight: 5 pounds 10.4 ounces 
Length: 19 inches
Eating: 50ml of fortified breast milk each feed. Receiving 6 feeds in bottles and 2 feeds in tube.  Non-nutritive breast feeds 2 times a day. 
Bedtime: n/a
Awake: n/a
Naps: typically right back to sleep after each feed
Diapers: preemie Pampers Swaddlers
Clothes: mostly in diapers in isolettes but will sometimes wear preemie sleepers and bows
Favorites: being held
Development: taking larger feeds each day and more bottle feeds each day
2/23- off CPAP.  Replaced with nasal cannula.
2/24- started TPN, caffeine and phototherapy
2/25- started lipids.  Nasal cannula removed.
2/26- off phototherapy 
3/3- tummy time started, off lipids
3/4- off TPN
3/5- IV removed. First bottle feed (spit up most of 25ml feed).  Mommy changed your diaper! 
3/9- body temperature monitor turned off but isolette still closed.  Mommy was able to hold you and Molly together and you can wear clothes.  Your umbilical cord fell off. 
3/10- one bottle and NNF per day
3/11- nursed for the first time
3/16- received Hep B vaccine
3/17- off caffeine

Molly 1 month Stats
Weight: 5 pounds 1.6 ounces 
Length: 18 inches
Eating: 45ml of fortified breast milk each feed. Receiving 6 feeds in bottles and 2 feeds in tube.  Non-nutritive breast feeds 2 times a day. 
Bedtime: n/a
Awake: n/a
Naps: typically right back to sleep after each feed
Diapers: preemie Pampers Swaddlers
Clothes: mostly in diapers in isolettes but will sometimes wear preemie sleepers and bows
Favorites: being held and her purple paci
Development: taking larger feeds each day and more bottle feeds each day
2/22- was able to hold and nurse
2/23- started phototherapy
2/24- started TPN
2/25- started lipids
2/28- off phototherapy
3/3- tummy time started, off lipids
3/4- off TPN
3/5- umbilical cord fell off, IV removed, first bottle feed
3/9- body temperature monitor turned off but isolette still closed.  Mommy was able to hold you and Madeline together and you can wear clothes. 
3/10- one bottle and NNF per day
3/11- Daddy gave you a bottle
3/16- received Heb B vaccine
3/17- off caffeine 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Back to Blogging

So I've been MIA recently due to a myriad of reasons (having three kids under the age of two!)  I started to lose interest in blogging last year after Daddy died, then I got out of the habit of sitting down and writing regularly, and now I've been really busy.  At one point in time I actually was going to just stop blogging altogether.  But I've changed my mind because, ultimately, this is my family scrapbook.  I love looking back at old posts and seeing where we were and how far we've come.  So I'm getting back to blogging and will spend the next few days (weeks?) catching up on what I've missed since December.  I will probably adjust the dates on some posts so they appear in the correct order.

So there will be some "old" posts show up for awhile before I get caught up to posts about the girls.  Hopefully I can get all of this cranked out quickly so I don't forget too much about the first month of the girls' lives!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Carter: 21 Months

 Carter Man,
You are TWENTY-ONE MONTHS old today! What?!? Who has control of the remote and why is it pressing fast forward? How can my baby boy be so close to turning two??  I'm just not sure if I'm really ready to have a two year old; would you consider turning back into a six month old?  I would like to start all over again (good thing your sisters are here and I can do that!)

Not only are you almost two years old, you are now officially a big brother! For an entire week now you have had two little sisters, although you don't even truly know it yet.  Daddy and I spent the last week at the hospital so you have been on vacation at PawPaw and Nana's house.  We have shown you pictures and videos of Madeline and Molly, but I'm sure you can't comprehend that these are YOUR babies and will be coming home with us at some point.  We hope to take you up to the NICU right before they come home so you can see them there before you see them at our house.  They would have to bend the rules for us since children under 2 years are not allowed in the NICU, but it's something they are considering for us.  I pray that you embrace your little sisters and love on them like you love on your cousins.

We started ECI this month and you are receiving services for speech, social skills and occupational therapy.  Your OT thinks you have a sensory processing disorder (likely stemming from being premature) so we are working with Dr K to find the right "sensory diet" for you.  Basically they are scripted exercises we will do with you daily to "re-wire" your brain to ensure you are receiving all the input your little busy body needs.  We are also working with your ST to transform your gibberish into English.

Our schedule these days is fairly predictable and you thrive on routine.  We are all also getting so used to your gibberish that we know through your talking and gestures exactly what you are trying to tell us.  If makes our days so much easier, but I am also ready to hear those grunts turn into real words.  You definitely have an opinion about what you want to wear or eat or do, and as soon as you can clearly express all those needs to us we will all be happier people.  And now that I'm off bed rest we will have so much fun actually getting out of the house each day! The weather is starting to get warmer which will allow us to play outside again.  Your favorite place to be is outside and you just run and run all over when we are outside.  We will have to enjoy these precious few weeks of spring while we have them before it gets too hot.

Your eating is getting much pickier, if that's even possible.  You still dislike all meat except chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A.  You have even started turning your nose up to fruit, which used to be a favorite of yours.  We haven't made any progress in the pasta department, opting instead for any and all bread you can get your hands on.  You love cereal, bread, crackers, pretzels, puffs, muffins and toast.  If it's a carb you will eat it.  Thankfully you still love your milk, yogurt and cheese and sometimes cry when it's all gone.

You are really starting to play well with your cousins.  With Mason you run and tackle and wrestle constantly when you are together.  Y'all are all boy! I'm afraid y'all will get into a lot of trouble together and you may even lead Mason to do things with you that he shouldn't.  You are so fearless and sweet Mason just follows along to whatever you are doing.  With Brooks we are likely to find y'all hugging or reading a book together rather than horse playing.  Y'all still get jealous over toys and sometimes have a hard time sharing, but still really enjoy each others company.  Since she is older she very much loves to mother you and treat you like a baby and you soak it up.  I  hope these relationships only continue to grow closer the older y'all get.

*crossing fingers this next paragraph does not jinx me*
I'm feeling really good about your sleep routine these days.  You wake up in the morning anywhere from 6:45-7:45 and are happy to just roll around in your bed sucking your pacis until I go in to get you.  Typically I go in between 7:30-8:00 and you are always so happy to see me.  At nap time we put some lavender essential oil on the bottom of your feet, put you in bed, kiss your head and walk out of the room.  You will roll around for awhile talking to yourself, sometimes getting up to walk around your room for awhile, but eventually you put yourself to sleep and nap anywhere from 1.5-2.5 hours.  At night Daddy and I have been putting you to bed together and we always let you pick who you want to put you to bed.  You are pretty equal on who you pick each night, usually switching it up from the night before.  At night we put you in bed, say your prayers, and sing a few songs before walking out of the room.  You always wave to us as we leave and I think it's the cutest thing.  Gone are the days where we would rock you and sing to you before you fell asleep.  I'm actually thinking about moving the glider into the girls' room since we don't use it in your room anymore.  I would love for this sleep routine to continue.

Carter Man- thank you for making it so easy to love you.  You are so happy and funny that I honestly miss you when you are sleeping in the next room.  I love being around you and watching you grow and learn.  Your smile is contagious and your laugh is a sound I want to bottle up forever.  We love you to the moon and back.

21-Month Stats:
Weight: 28 pounds
Length: 32ish inches
Eating: sippys of milk, combo of baby and table food, and one snack
Bedtime: around 7:30pm
Awake: around 7:30am
Nap: around 1:00 
Diapers: size 5 Huggies
Clothes: 18-months
Shoes: 5 wide
Favorites: playing outside, anything with wheels, your paci, books, videos on our phones, Cooper
Dislikes: meat, people leaving the room, being in the stroller
Development: communicating 95% of the time even with your limited vocabulary 
Words: I'm starting this list over and dividing it into words you use willingly and words you can say but don't use.
Use daily: up, uh oh, that, yes, no, more
Will repeat: mama, dada, nana, dog, night night, what is that, outside, bye bye, hi, hey, hello, deer, duck, who is that, Nemo, cup, tractor, dump, bucket, blue, all animal sounds, diaper, truck, movie, zip,