Monday, October 19, 2009

Birthday Miracle!

Saturday was our Birthday Miracle! It was Mitch's 2nd birthday and we had a busy day ahead of us with visitors coming over to see Alexis, Chloe's Primary Program practice, errands to run for Mitch's birthday, and of course visiting Leah in the hospital.

The latest on Leah, since my last post, was that she was taken off oxygen on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. and did great. Her blood oxygen levels, heart rate and respiratory rate were all great and she has been off oxygen ever since.

Here she is Thursday, the first time I saw her without her oxygen cannula in her nose. The only thing left to get rid of is that darn feeding tube! But she is breathing on her own!!

Alexis was excited for her, too.

After getting off oxygen on Wednesday, the only thing left to do before she could come home was getting her to nipple all her feedings for 24 hours, meaning she had to either be able to nurse her 52 cc's (not quite 2 ounces) or drink them from a bottle. If she couldn't finish her feedings by one of those two ways, or a combo of both, she had to be fed the rest of the meal through her tube, and we had to start back over. She was so tired from all the breathing problems that she was still really tired, but she tried so hard to eat well for us. Each feeding she made improvements and we were hopeful that any day we would get the good news that she could come home.

Saturday afternoon we went in to visit her and waited almost 2 hours to talk to the NICU doctor. It was worth the wait because he told us the best news that we could hear that day: "Are you ready to take your baby home, today??" We definitely were.

Here I am with Leah, feeding her her last bottle in the NICU. She was so excited to come home that she quickly devoured the entire thing in record time.

In her carseat, ready to go home!

Alexis and Leah, wearing their first matching twin outfits (finally)!

Our last family photo at the hospital.

The strong Dad, carrying both carseats. (When I can lift heavy things again, I will need to practice this......)

The big kids were so excited for us to be home with the babies.

And then it was time to celebrate Mitch's birthday. We had to postpone his party a few hours in order to bring Leah home, which was well worth it for our Birthday Miracle, but it was way past Mitch's bedtime and the day had been so busy and crazy that I felt bad for the lack of attention that he received on his special day.

He loved opening his gifts and was so excited for each one!

He is obsessed with the little monkey named Boots on Dora the Explorer, so my mom and I each bought him a few "Boots" things for his birthday and he was so excited. He kept yelling "My Boots, my Boots!"

Here is our Birthday Man with his sad little cake. Due to the busy day and all that has gone on the last 2 weeks, I didn't have time to get any great decorations for his cake, so at the last minute I just slapped on some Boots and Dora frisbees. It was not much to look at, but Mitch loved it- "My Boots!"

Here are the girls, together again at last. I saved their going home outfits for when they could both come home.

Our first family picture outside of the hospital.

Chloe was so excited to have her two little sisters home together. She has been a big help with Alexis already and loves holding both of them.

Here is the sweet little picture Chloe made for Leah's big homecoming. We are all so glad she is home and healthy, and we couldn't have asked for a better birthday present than her! (Although Mitch was probably more excited about Boots than his sister....)

2 new babies
4 day hospital stay for Mom and Alexis
12 day hospital stay for Leah
11 days in the NICU
8 days on oxygen
1 CPAP mask, 1 feeding tube
Too many needle pokes and pricks to count
2 healthy, happy babies
1 happy family, all home together

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

little Leah

little Leah has made some remarkable progress in the last few days! We are so excited!

Sunday they decided to take her off her CPAP mask (which forces oxygen into her, with no effort on her part to breath it in). She was only off it for an hour before they had to put that darn thing back on her, because she just couldn't handle it yet.

Ben and I went back Monday morning to visit her, just in time to watch them take off the CPAP again! We weren't there on Sunday when they took it off, so we missed seeing her beautiful face uncovered, but yesterday we got to see it.

What a difference it makes to have it off! Now we can see her gorgeous face and hair (what little she has!) and we love it. They also took out the IV in her hand, so we are slowly taking wires and contraptions off her body all the time and it is wonderful.

She still has her feeding tube, which you can see in her mouth, but sometime on Monday, they moved it into her nose and now her mouth is free from anything it it as well. Taking the feeding tube out of her mouth has made it possible for me to start nursing her again. They called us in Monday night to come feed her and she only nursed for 2 or 3 minutes, but it was a start.

In her NICU bed, her "home" right now. She has been in there now 6 days (6 days too long, for us).

Alexis is always with us when we go to visit her "older" sister. She always sleeps and is an angel while we are there. There still is a big difference in size between these two (a whole pound) and now having them apart almost since birth (they are one week old today!!), we can definitely tell them apart with no problems. Alexis is in a newborn outfit from Aunt Meredith and the pants are HUGE! The shirt fit really well, but if you can tell by the picture, the pants fall off if you hold her up. She looked adorable in it, though and it's been so fun to dress her, but makes me so sad that Leah can't wear the matching outfit with her yet.

We laid Alexis in the bed with Leah and after a minute, they started touching each other. It was so cute. One of the hardest things for me during this whole thing has been that these babies have not been together. I am worried they will forget they were even twins and have a hard time getting used to each other again. I HATE having them apart every day. We visit Leah every day and sometimes spend hours with her, but we spend every minute with Alexis and it breaks our hearts that Leah is alone so much and without her sister.

When they called us back to feed Leah Monday night, we found this- she was in clothes!! I about cried. I never thought seeing a baby in an outfit would effect me so much, but after having her just in a diaper, covered in wires and hooked up to so many machines for 6 days, she looked "normal."

They can even swaddle her now, which they couldn't before. She looks so comfy and cozy. And soooo relaxed. For the first 3 or 4 days, they used a relaxer to sedate her somewhat so that she would be calm and give her lungs a chance to heal, but they have not had to give her any sedative in the past 3 days or so- they say she rarely, if every gets fussy and if she does, it's just for a minute and then she sleeps or lays peacefully for the rest of the time. Without the CPAP and sedative, she will now open her eyes for us.

Grandma comes and visits leah whenever she can. Bless my mom! She has been WONDERFUL and there is no way we could be doing any of this without her. She drives me everywhere I need to go (if Ben can't), she stays home and watches our kids while we visit Leah (our kids don't last long at the hospital), she cooks, cleans and does everything. I honestly don't know what we would do without her. These babies are 2 lucky girls to have such a wonderful Grandma.

Chloe only lasts a few minutes in the NICU before she is ready to go, but she is very sweet with both her sisters, and she got to hold Leah in the NICU for the first time today.

As far as further progress, Leah's lungs are healing and maturing great. She is down to only 21% oxygen, which is what we all breathe everyday, and it is not forced- she breathes it in on her own. She is being fed by a tube most of the time, which she tolerates beautifully, and they are now starting to have me come in to nurse her. She has not been doing well with the nursing because she is so tired and pooped out from all her respiratory problems. All the struggling to breath for the last week has just worn her out almost completely and it takes all her strength to suck, so she will only nurse for a minute or two, or not at all. She will take a bottle for a minute or two as well, and then fall asleep from exhaustion. So now our big thing to work on, since her lungs are almost healed, is feeding. They don't want to have to send her home on a feeding tube, so we are just working on her nursing or taking a bottle (with my pumped milk) and when she can do that on her own, consistently, with a clean bill of health on her lungs, she can come home. We can't wait for that day. We were hopeful that it would be sometime at the end of this week, but we really can't tell for sure right now. She is trying SO hard to eat, but it is so hard after all she's been through. We are just so proud and excited about all the progress she has made recently.

The nurses at the hospital and others have been asking us how we have been handling all of this. I must say, it is hard. It's hard to see your tiny, helpless newborn in a tiny hospital bed, with more wires and machines that you can count, struggling to breath. It's hard being torn between so many places. At the hospital, Ben felt torn between staying in the room and taking care of me and Alexis, going to the NICU to see Leah and get updates, and being home spending time with our 2 oldest. Now that we are home, there are only 2 places to be torn between, but it's almost harder. At the hospital, Leah was just across the hall. Now when we want to see her, we have to load up in the car and drive 15 minutes. It's hard because I have to feed Alexis, then pump as often as I can and hand deliver my milk to the hospital for her. It's all totally worth it, but hard and exhausting. I don't feel like I'm getting the rest I need to recover as quickly as I should because I need to be at the hospital so much (delivering milk, nursing Leah or just visiting). So much goes into getting to the hospital- I have to have someone drive me, have someone carry Alexis in her car seat for me (I can't carry that much weight yet), someone to watch my kids at home, etc.

It's also emotionally exhausting. It's emotionally exhausting worrying about Leah, missing her like crazy, trying to find time to rest, and spending time with my other kids. Mitch is having a hard time adjusting and just doesn't understand why his mommy can't hold him or pick him up. That's hard on me too. While this has been hard, we do it and we don't resent the fact that we have to do it- it is totally worth it and we'd do it all over again if we had to. We just want our whole family together and pray that it happens soon.

But we have been blessed with 4 beautiful children, two of which are the sweetest, most beautiful and precious newborns and we are so grateful they are here. We couldn't ask for more.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Baby Update

It's been a long couple of days and we haven't done an update- we stayed at the hospital for 4 days (3 days longer than I have with my other babies) and it's been quite the painful and long recovery. Plus, the hospital's internet was too slow to post any pictures.

But Alexis and I finally got to come home yesterday!

Here are my last pregnant pictures with twins- 2 days shy of 38 weeks. As the lady I ran into in Wal-mart on Monday said, "Wow, you've got one BIG baby in there!" As you can tell, my shirt didn't cover my stomach any more.

Ready for delivery!

Here I am after I got home yesterday, in the same outfit I went to the hospital in, just for comparison sake. I still look pregnant, but not with twins anymore!

And here are some more pics of our precious baby girls. Leah on the left, Lexi on the right, just shortly after they were born. Both tiny (much tiny than we are used to for Andros babies), but Lexi looks so much bigger than Leah (one whole pound worth).

My little Lexi Grace, bright eyed for Grandma.

Me and Lexi

A little update on Leah, for those who don't know. About 8 hours after birth, she started showing signs of difficulty in breathing. Ben and I first noticed it and pointed it out to the nurse Wednesday morning, who noticed as well. Leah had been making noise all night long in her sleep. At first we thought she was just going to be a noisy baby, but something didn't seem right. The nurse thought it wise to take her down to the NICU to get monitored, and sure enough, she was laboring really hard in her breathing and having a difficult time. The hooked her up to oxygen almost immediately and she has been in the NICU ever since.

After many visits from the pediatric specialist, it was determined that her lungs were immature at birth. One of her lung as collapsed multiple times as well. She has been on continued oxygen support since Wednesday and as well as feeding tubes and different IV's and other monitors to monitor her heart rate and respiratory rate. All of the things on her make it look worse than it is- she is not in any life threatening danger. The only thing that will help fully develop her lungs now is time. After she is fully recovered, she will have no lasting side effects or problems from this in the future. We feel very blessed that it is no more serious than it is. Her progress is very slow right now, but just since last night she has made the biggest jumps in her progress, and we have much hope that she will continue to progress more and more each day.

We go in and visit her multiple times each day, especially Ben. He is the most loving and attentive father, especially as he was torn so many different ways at the hospital: trying to take care of my every need (which he did), holding and spending time with Alexis (which he did) and taking time to go and sit with Leah for hours on end. He even found time to come home and play with Chloe and Mitchell. Even though he couldn't hold Leah in the NICU, he would sit by her side and talk to her, touch her and just be with her to let her know we were still there for her. She has one lucky daddy who loves her very much. Ben was amazing at the hospital with all of us.

Mommy and two of her girls. We are just missing Leah in this picture. It is so hard not to be able to hold her when I want.

Lexi and Leah in Leah's NICU bed, getting some brief bonding time.

Leah has been slightly sedated so she can relax and let her oxygen work, and being by us, including Alexis, really makes her calm.

This pic of Leah (above) is for Papa Blakeslee, who also wears a CPAP mask for sleep apnea. He and Leah are twins!

Beautiful Alexis Grace, enjoying a nap on Mommy's hospital bed.

On Friday, they finally let us hold Leah for the first time since Wednesday morning. I was so excited!! Here I am with ALL my girls! Aren't they beautiful?? Leah loved being held this day and snuggled right up to me, content as can be.

I finally put an outfit on Alexis on Friday. I felt bad getting her dressed when Leah couldn't put clothes on, especially since I had brought little matching outfits for them to come home in together. One of the secretaries at the nursing desk has become a good friend of mine and came in and visited me on Thursday and brought the girls some coordinating outfits. I decided to put that on Alexis to wear home on Friday and save the matching outfits for when Leah gets to come home, too. She looks so sweet in clothes after being just bundled for so many days!

Going home Friday afternoon!

She looked like a baby doll in her carseat. This is so unusual for our family- we do NOT have small babies!! We almost don't know what to do with 5 and 6 pound babies. Leah is almost twice as small as Chloe was.

Alexis, all bundled up and ready to come home!

It was so exciting to bring her home, but we left a big piece of our hearts at the hospital, as Leah is still there and will be for a number of days more. We get a boarding room at the hospital, where we can still spend the night if we choose and that we can use anytime we go in to visit Leah. Leah is in very good hands at the hospital and know she will be taken care of when we are not there, but it was heartbreaking to leave with just Alexis.

Alexis discovered her fingers last night- Mitchell will be so excited to have a fellow finger sucker in the family!

Big brother enjoying some time with little sister. He loves the "bebes" as he calls them and loves to hold Lexi's hand.

We are so glad to be home with Alexis and can't wait until the day we get to bring little Leah home, all well. We are so blessed to have these little angels in our family.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Leah Jane and Alexis Grace

Leah Jane
5 lbs 12 oz, 18" long

Alexis Grace
6 lbs 13 oz, 19.25" long

What a wonderful day! Our little family just got a lot bigger. Leah and Alexis have finally arrived. Leah is on the left and Alexis on the right (I can tell them apart by their size). Leah is noticeably smaller.

I was a happy daddy having two healthy beautiful baby girls and a mom that did wonderful!
Chloe was very anxious to come see her new sisters. She is very happy to be a big sister and fills her role well.

Even Mitchell was happy yesterday. He came in to the hospital room saying "baby, baby" and proceeded to give each sister a kiss (unprompted, too!). After seeing his big sister Chloe hold Alexis he wanted a chance as well. Here he is "holding" Leah.

What an eventful day it was! The induction date was moved up two days when the Dr. had found that Alexis had miraculously switched position and had gone head down. However, by the time the process had begun Tuesday morning, Alexis had switched and was transverse, again! In the end, after the great efforts of the Dr. to rotate her after the first had been born naturally, Alexis Grace was borne via C-Section. Carrie has now had the unique experience of having both types of deliveries... at the same time!

Carrie handles it all very well. She did an excellent job and is doing very well as are both of the babies.

I, on the other hand.... was torn in three in the operating room trying to take care of everyone! So far, I am doing as well as can be expected!!! Just look at my family (and my smile)... How could I not be the happiest daddy in the world!