Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!

This post is a few days overdue, but our three little angels were born on October 29, 2008. First was Makenna Elizabeth, at 4:27pm, weighing in at 2 lbs 12 oz. She was taken right out of the delivery room before we had a chance to even hear her cry. As she was entering the world, Paul was standing and looking over the drape. My most memorable moment of the entire birth was him looking back down at me with so much love and pride, telling me how beautiful she was. It was a moment we shared that I will cherish for as long as I live.

Next came Miss Olivia Lyn, at 4:29pm, weighing in at just under 2 lbs 12 oz. This little one came in screaming and appeared to do very well from moment one. Her sister, Lauren Avery, was born last at 4:30pm, weighing 2 lbs 13 oz. I honestly cannot remember if we heard Lauren cry, but I do remember her sweet little face as she was wheeled out of the OR, right behind her sister, Livy.

My c-section experience was mostly a good one. For those wanting a play-by-play, here you go. If you don't, just skip this paragraph. I was taken into the OR and sat up on the table. I was very nervous, so they gave me some anti-anxiety meds in my IV. I instantly relaxed a bit and they began my spinal. As you can imagine, with 3 babies inside, it is very difficult to arch one's back well enough to get that spinal in. I'm not sure how long it took, but I know they had to poke a couple of times before it all worked out, and we had to reposition my legs about three or four times until we found a good position. I felt bad and kept apologizing for not being able to bend over well enough, but in the end we got it, so no biggie. Next they helped me lie back on the table and put in my catheter. I could feel my body, but I mostly just felt a mild tingling all over. I thought that would feel irritable, but it didn't bother me at all. After the catheter, everyone started really filing into the room. They put the oxygen tube thing in my nose (and it kept falling out during the surgery, so we kept having to help it back into place), and put the drape up over me. The drape was actually very irritating b/c it kept falling into my face. One of my big fears was having my arms tied down and out to the side, but they didn't use anything to secure them to the table, so that was no biggie, either. My blood pressure dropped often during the surgery (not too low, though), so they kept giving me meds to keep it elevated so that I wouldn't drift off to sleep. I honestly could have closed my eyes at any point and slept so well, but I fought to keep them open the entire time. As for the pulling and tugging, it wasn't so bad. There was one point where there was a lot of pressure pushing up into my chest, but it was bearable. And although I couldn't technically feel anything, I could definitely tell when they were closing me up. It didn't hurt a bit, but I could feel the sensation of my belly being put back together. After all was done I was wheeled into recovery and had a nice little nap. The worst part of the entire surgery actually came at this point. The nurse had to make sure I was bleeding properly, so she had to press down really firmly on my belly to expel blood at least twice during my hour plus recovery. This process continued for the first 24 hours, but the pain lessened every time. It was quite intense during that first hour, though. The whole experience was actually fine and my incision is healing very well. Everyone comments on how great it looks and how small it is. One of my docs even said it was the best-looking one she has seen. So I suppose I should pass on compliments to my OB for all of the great feedback, haha. He really did an outstanding job getting us through this pregnancy and he continues to check on our girls in the NICU to follow their progress. He just goes above and beyond what we would ever expect and so I know we are all in good hands.

So, back to our babies! The first few days are really difficult with preemies because that's when we get a lot of bad news. There's good news, too, but some of the scariest news can come early on. It was on Thursday, I believe, that we learned our little Olivia has a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. The cardiologist assured us that it has nothing to do with her prematurity or the fact that she is a multiple. It is something she would have been born with no matter the circumstances. Her prematurity just makes treatment difficult since we must wait until she is at least 4lbs prior to having it surgically repaired. But the good news is that surgery is effective 95% of the time. Babies often will require multiple surgeries, but she can live a very normal life once the heart is repaired. The one thing we are keeping an eye on right now is the pathway in Olivia's heart that sometimes functions as a PDA. Normally we are all born with a PDA pathway which closes up during birth. Preemies are often born with PDAs that remain open and require meds or surgery to close. Olivia was born with no PDA at all, but instead her heart grew a completely different pathway in the same general area. Sometimes this "fake pda" acts like a normal pda and closes off. The problem is that Olivia needs this pathway to remain open so that her blood can continue to flow throughout her heart and into the proper areas of her body. If it begins to close then she will need to take meds to keep it open. Those meds have some bad side effects that will make her treatment difficult. For now the pathway remains wide open and no meds are required. She will continue to be monitored every 2 days with EKG to make sure the path remains open. Then, when she is big enough, we can focus on having the surgery to begin repairing her heart. If she continues to do well, we may even be able to bring her home before moving forward with surgery. It just depends on how her body does as time progresses. Everything else seems to be going fine for Olivia. They can't give her any food yet, so they just use an IV to supply her with nutrition. She is definitely having the most trouble of the three, but it seems to be due to the issues surrounding the heart defect...and honestly things are going fine considering the circumstances.

Makenna is doing fairly well overall, but her PDA still hasn't closed. That means that she cannot yet begin to be tube fed any of my breast milk. She will have another EKG on Monday. If the PDA is closed, we can be happy and move forward with some feedings (again, through a tube). If it is open, however, we will need to consider a course of action to close it. Often docs like to use meds, but it sounds like ours will surgically close it off if it's still open on Monday. We are told this is a routine bedside procedure and nothing to worry about.

Lauren's PDA was closed at her first EKG exam, so she was able to start tube feedings a couple of days ago. Since she is so small, it's difficult for her to digest the food, but they are finding that if they place her on her right side, that things go well. They did find a dark spot on her brain scan, but aren't really worried about it right now. They will run another scan in a week and then in a month, I believe. If it's still there, then we may have cause for concern. Sounds like these things are kind of common in preemies, though, and may not lead to anything serious. Overall, Lauren is doing the best, so it's hard to imagine there is anything wrong with her brain...but I guess you just never know.

All of the girls are still on oxygen, though Lauren and Makenna may be weaned down soon. They will all have breathing assistance in some fashion for a while, but there are many steps they can take in the NICU to decrease the amount of breathing help they receive. This is the area of their care that Paul seems to have a better understanding of than me, but now that I'm getting a bit more rest I'm able to learn a bit more about everything.

One of my big goals with these girls is to breastfeed in some capacity. I would love for them to eventually take to the actual breast, but my primary concern is that they receive breastmilk rather than formula, if possible. That said, I started pumping milk for them six hours after my c-section. The first pumping session went well as we gathered 5cc...which is about a teaspoon full of milk. After that I got 1/2 to 1cc of milk for a day or so. Then by Friday night I was getting about 2cc of milk. We had signed consents on Friday for them to receive donor breast milk since I wasn't producing enough for Lauren's 2cc feedings, but only had to use it once, I think. You can imagine my delight when I was able to pump 6cc at once by Saturday night. Well, my last pumping session was 2 hours ago and I knew it was going to be a good one because when I woke up I could feel that my breasts felt fuller and firmer than they have. I looked at Paul and said "well, I'm certain my milk has finally come in". Sure enough, I got 18cc of milk this morning!!! It sounds ridiculous, but I'm so happy to have gotten so much at one time. Paul and I have these little celebrations when my production increases. This is really my only way to contribute to my babies' health at this point in time, so the more milk I can provide, the more I feel like I am helping them to grow strong and healthy.

So that is my extremely long update on our situation. I should mention, too, I suppose, that my legs are extremely swollen (typical after a c-section, we're told) and that I cannot stay on my feet for longer than 15 minutes or so. Even sitting in a chair is bad. I really have to keep my feet elevated to keep my lower body from swelling too much. So visiting the girls is going to be a challenge once I'm discharged tonight. We're going to have to come up with some creative solutions to sitting around the NICU. Also, my blood pressure has been high. I was put on blood pressure medication yesterday and it's helping. Hopefully this is very very temporary and I can get off the meds soon.

I'm going to post some pics here for you. Enjoy!!!

Belly shot about 1 hour before the c-section:

Olivia Lyn crying as she is coming out of mommy's belly

Lauren's birth

Makenna resting with her shades on. They left them on after her time under the bili lights b/c she is so much more comfy with less stimulation.

Lauren sleeping so peacefully. She always has her arms and hands in such cute postions near her head.

Little Livy stretching out. She has her daddy's hair!!! I call her my hairy little monkey.

I'll post more pics and updates as time progresses.


Scarlett said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIRLS!!! Congrats Paul and Crystal!!!! I was so excited to see your update:) These girls are such beautiful little miracles, you are so blessed!! I will keep all three in my prayers that they will continue to grow bigger and stronger:)

Haymonds said...

They are SO beautiful. What a wonderful miracle. We are so glad they are all here safely and hope the best in the trials in the coming weeks. Congratulations!!!!

Mimi said...

Congrats to you and your DH. What a miracle. Get much needed rest right now before your angels come home!


Anonymous said...

Paul and Cyrstal congradulations on the 3 little daughters you have. I will keep all 5 of you in my prayers daily to make sure you all have good strong days. Oh I forgot about Jujy and Diane. Thats 7 well take care and talk to you soon. Tricia :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!!! They are so cute :) I am 2 weeks behind you with triplets and have been following your story for a few months now. You did great!!!

April said...

Welcome to the world little ones! Your Auntie April, Uncle Allen and cousin Courtland look forward to meeting you sometime soon. We love you!

Surviving Triplets said...

Keep it up mama! You are doing a fantastic thing by pumping. I've been at it for 7 mths & if you need any tips, PLEASE let me know. Congrats on 3 beautiful baby girls!

Astrid (TC)
Mommy to Sofi, Gabi & Ian

Barbra said...

Congrats to you and your new family!!!! They are so beautiful!