Thursday, February 5, 2009

It has been a long time since I have updated this blog, but I am back and hopefully, I can keep motivated! Since it has been so long, and with the timing of my return, I thought I would catch anyone who doesn't know about our story up.

In the fall of 2006, I found out I was pregnant with our third child. Our first born, Grace was just 3 and our second, Sam was only 16 months or so. On December 1, at my routine 20 week sonogram, we found out that there were two babies and that our family of 4 would now become 6! We were slightly surprised to hear of this, but we shortly came to terms and began to make plans for our life with many small children.

Christmas came that year and shortly after that, I began to have contractions. A couple of trips to the hospital complete with medication to make them stop and I was back at home with orders of bedrest. This happened for all of a couple of days, when the contractions began again. This time, I would not be returning home for a while. I was transported to another area hospital that had the specialists on staff and that also had a level 3 NICU, where I would likely stay until I delivered the babies.

I was placed on magnesium sulfate to stop labor from happening. The doctors suspected that the babies were suffering from Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, which meant that one baby was taking more of the nutrients and not sharing with the other. As time progressed, one baby's sac was becoming much larger than the other. In order to give both babies a chance at life, the doctor did a series of amnio reductions in which he took a rather large needle and drew off fluid from the bigger sac, all the while watching what he was doing on the ultrasound as to not poke the baby. I think I had this done 2 times, and he ended up taking a total of 3 liters off of baby A. In theory, we would keep this up as necessary in order to keep the babies both growing and receiving the proper nutrition.

Unexpectedly, my water broke and the babies' heart rates began to drop. The decision was made to take them via C-section. They were delivered and taken immediately to the NICU. I don't recall many of the events during this time, as the drugs seemed to really alter my state of mind. I don't remember even seeing the babies before they took them.

I will never forget my second visit to the NICU. The first visit I don't really recall, except that I think I was in the hospital bed. The next time I went, I was able to get in the wheelchair and make it there with help. I didn't know the seriousness of the situation. The doctors explained that babies of this gestational age had about a 50% chance of living.

Both babies weighed about the same, 1 pound 4 ounces and were about 11 inches long. They were both in the isolettes and were hooked to more machines than I had ever seen. Their eyes were still fused shut and would take weeks to open, their skin was paper thin and so transparent and their color was strange, and their ears were so thin and flimsy that whenever someone repositioned them, they would "fluff" their ears! Here are pictures of them when they were one day old (first is Nate, second is Noah).

At four weeks of age, both boys underwent surgery to close a PDA in their hearts. There is apparently a duct that naturally closes on its own when a baby is born, but with being so premature, it did not for them. Shortly after that surgery, we began to notice changes in Noah. He had begun to get sick and we weren't sure what it was. It appeared to be some sort of infection and his abdomen began to really swell. After several days of antibiotics and still no signs of healing, a surgeon was called to consult and the decision was made to transfer Noah to the local Children's hospital, where he would undergo exploratory surgery looking for the source of infection in his abdomen. February 12, 2007, Noah underwent surgery at Children's Mercy Hospital at 10:00 p.m. It was then that the doctor removed 1/3 of his small intestine as it had become diseased and was virtually dead anyway. We then waited and prayed. That was the only thing we could do at that point. Those few days were some of the most defining, life changing days of my life. On Friday, February 16, 2007 we sat in the conference room with the team of doctors and were told that there was nothing more that they could do, and we decided it was time to stop all forms of medicine to prolong his life. We carefully helped take out all the tubes and wires and we gave our sweet baby a bath and dressed him and rocked him and let him go.

We left our baby in the arms of Jesus, got into the car and went to see our other fragile newborn across town at the other hospital. Not your typical Friday! Anyway, Nate continued to grow and develop and spent the first 3 and 1/2 months of his life in the hospital. He did have one more surgery before coming home, which was for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) and was laser surgery on his eyes. We visited him every day, while so many friends and family cared for and took care of our needs at home (mainly our other 2 small children).

We brought Nate home on April 20, 2007 and he has been pretty healthy ever since! He turned two years old on January 4 and is doing very well.

I had expectations that as time passed, this season of our lives would somehow become less difficult and time would be a great healer. I have been wrong in my thinking. It seems this winter has proved to be one of the hardest thus far. Could be my crazy hormones, all the significant holidays/anniversaries of events, or the fact that time didn't make me love my baby any less than I did before. Whatever the case, I have been in a funk for quite some time.

Seasons are a changing, and I am slowly feeling better. Our family dynamics are changing as well, with the arrival of baby #4 in late May, so there are many things to be done and to keep me focused on the future.

Thanks to everyone for hanging in there with us through it all. I am hoping to get back in the swing of things and keep the blog better updated since we will have oh so much to share!