Saturday, December 22, 2007

Just in time!






Ashlyn made it home yesterday, just in time for Christmas. Shaylah is a very proud big sister and loves to "help" with the babies. She keeps saying "two babies!", as if she can't believe her luck. We feel so fortunate to finally have the whole family together...what a wonderful gift!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Home Sweet Home


On Tuesday, exactly one week after his due date, Caelan was allowed to come home. We are thrilled to finally have him home and can't wait for Ashlyn to join us. Shaylah was so excited to see her brother...she is constantly wanting to kiss him and touch him. "Caelan" is the first word she says in the morning and the last topic she talks about at night. Jackpot is doing very well also and actually seems to like the new addition. So far Caelan has been such a good baby, waking up a few times in the night to feed, but falling back to sleep again quite easily. He seems very settled and happy so far!


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Due Date - Ashlyn (video)

videoToday on her due date, Ashlyn weighs 3250 grams (7 pounds, 3 ounces). She is a very calm little baby and loves to snuggle, preferring to sleep against your chest. She is not allowed to take any food by mouth yet, but she will be able to come home tube-fed. She misses having her brother share a bed with her and she looks forward to the day that they are re-united!

Due date - Caelan (video)

video

Today on his due date, Caelan weighs 3535 grams (7 pounds, 12 1/2 ounces). He is learning to feed orally and is currently taking 3 full feeds by mouth each day. He loves to have a bath and suck on his soother, but he cries when he has his diaper changed. He is a very noisy little guy and can often be heard grunting when he is awake. We love seeing his little personality emerge!


This hungry little squirrel greeted me as I walked into the hospital today.
This beautiful rainbow greeted me as I left.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

3 months old today!


Ashlyn and Caelan are officially 3 months old today...even though they are still 5 days away from their due day of December 4th. I never thought this day would come! We had a meeting with their doctors today and discovered that there is actually an end in sight. They are thinking that Caelan will be ready in 2-3 weeks and that Ashlyn will probably follow him home sometime in January. We were hoping to have them both home for Christmas, but we don't want to rush Ashlyn if she is not ready. Having Ashlyn in hospital will just mean that Christmas dinner will be done cafeteria style instead of with our extended family...but at least we won't have to cook! I have spent Christmas day in that hospital before (except that I was an employee instead of a patient) and I must say that the hospital does a really great job of trying to make it special for the kids.
Our little ones were placed into separate cribs last night and are no longer co-bedding. Ashlyn is having a terrible time with reflux and has been doing a lot of vomitting since the weekend. The trouble with being in the same bed is that she tends to throw-up all over her brother. You should see the amount of laundry I have done over the past few days! We are happy that they are still side-by-side in the nursery and that they still get to see each other every day during our double cuddles.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sisters




Shaylah - one month old
Ashlyn - 2 days ago

100 days


Johnny reminded me today that it has been exactly 100 days since our hospital experience began. I was admitted on August 17th....a day that I will never forget. It has been exhausting both physically and mentally and we are both very anxious to start living life as a family.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanks (and a little venting too!)

I would just like to thank the many people who have e-mailed/called to say how good the babies look lately. We feel uplifted every time someone gives them praise! They are precious gifts to Johnny and I and we are so thankful to have them in our lives. There have been many ups and downs in their short lives already and I am sure that there will be many more to come. I need to say that I get very frustrated when people tell me that they are worried about the babies or that it is so hard to hear about their setbacks. I know they mean well, but these babies are actually doing very well for being born 3 months early. It is very stressful to us when the focus is on the negative aspects of their health, especially when we already struggle on a daily basis to maintain a positive attitude. So here is the challenge for the week....next time you hear that things are not going as we had planned, please think of all the good things that have happened in the past 3 months since their birth. God has their lives all planned out and we trust that everything happens for a reason.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Co-bedding


Thanks to our favorite nurse (Erin always gets things done for us!), our babes are now able to sleep in the same crib. They were apparently fighting with each other last night , but they were very peaceful together today. Tomorrow I plan on bundling them in one blanket so that they can feel each other's presence. I hope to continue co-bedding them when they come home...at least until Shaylah is old enough to move into her big girl bed. Both babies are doing very well with their breathing and just need to learn how to eat orally before they can come home. This is a very slow process with preemies and could take many weeks. We are still hoping to have the babies home before Christmas, although the reality is that it could be the New Year before we are together as a family. The babies both weigh well over 6 pounds each now and are actually starting to get a little bit chubby (as all babies should be!). Caelan is the more active of the two and is very alert; Ashlyn is extremely peaceful and loves to snuggle right into your chest. She is such a sweet baby.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What's in a name?

First names: Shaylah, Caelan and Ashlyn are all Irish Gaelic names. We chose them simply because we liked them. There is no special meaning to their first names.

Middle names: Each middle name was chosen with special meaning in mind.

Marlyn: Chosen to honor my mother, who passed away suddenly just 11 months before Shaylah was born. My mom was truely a remarkable woman and would have been so proud of her grandchildren. She loved kids, even choosing a profession that helped shape the minds of the young children that came to see her each week. I miss her more than I can express, especially when I think of the moments with Shaylah that I would love to share with her. She taught me how to be a nurturing person and I think that I am a better mother because of her.

Geoffrey: Chosen to honor Johnny's older brother who died at birth. While losing a baby at birth would have obviously been a horrible experience, Johnny and I are grateful that God chose to give life to another little boy only one year after his death. There would have been no Johnny if Geoffrey had survived.

Faith: Chosen to honor God. We believe that God is in control of all things, even when they do not go according to our own plans. We know that little Ahslyn was meant to be here and we are grateful that God has protected her so far. We look forward to seeing what He has planned for her future!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Feeding issues

So, we finally have the feeding issues all figured out with the nursing staff. We have been told that the policy is not to give the babies a bottle until breast-feeding has already been established (if it is the mother's wish to breast-feed). Pre-mature babies have a hard enough time as it is figuring out how to breast-feed and introducing a bottle only makes it more confusing for them. No one knows why a bottle was given to Caelan last week, especially when we were not consulted first. As of this week, I am introducing Caelan to breast-feeding once a day until he gets stronger and is able to do it more often. He usually only lasts about 5-minutes and doesn't actually get any milk. It is a huge learning curve for him. Ashlyn will begin once she is officially off CPAP and her feeding tube is taken out of her mouth and put in through her nose.

Look alike?


We are told by all the nurses that Ashlyn looks like Johnny and Caelan looks like me. What do you think? I was just happy to be holding them side-by-side so that I could look at both of their faces at the same time. It is very clear that they do not look like each other.

First bath


While Ashlyn has had a few baths on her own, Caelan has only been sponge bathed in bed up until this point. This is their first bath together! Note that you can also see Caelan's umbilical hernia very well in this picture.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Good news, bad news

The good news - Caelan has had his first bottle of milk and he did very well with it!

The bad news - after weeks of asking when I can start feeding my babies, somebody went ahead and fed him his first bottle of milk without consulting me first. I was really hoping that it would have been ME to give him his first "taste". I wasn't there to witness it and am more than frustrated at the lack of communication to us as parents.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Together again


I didn't get to witness this re-union, but the look on Johnny's face tells you how special it was. This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago...thanks Grammy for sending it to us.

Lack of posts

Sorry about the delay in updates. I have not been able to get into the hospital for the past few days due to a sore throat and laryngitis. Yesterday was the first time I was able to see the babies in almost a week! I sure missed them and am glad I am feeling better.

Switch it up!


Now it is Caelan's turn to be off the CPAP machine and doing well. He has not needed any breathing support since Monday (note that he does not even have nasal prongs in his nose!). Ashlyn, on the other hand, lasted one week and was placed back on CPAP earlier this week to give her a break. The babies are still in separate rooms, which makes having quality time with each baby a little more difficult. We are also being told that we may be transferred out of BC Children's in the very near future because the babies are now stable enough to move. We will likely not get much notice or have any say in which hospital we end up in. It all depends on where there is room for 2 babies and when. We just pray that they will end up together!
Both babies have problems with reflux, so feeding is our next big hurdle. They are gaining weight at a nice rate though and are both following the curve just above the 10th percentile. Caelan weighed in at 5 pounds, 8 ounces today; Ashlyn is weighing 5 pounds, 5 ounces. They are quickly growing out of their preemie clothes!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Peaceful


Ashlyn was taken off her CPAP machine on Tuesday and has had no problems with her breathing. She is doing so well, that they have moved her out of the NICU and into the intermediate nursery. This is where babies go when they just need to grow and learn how to feed. She is one step closer to coming home! The unfortunate part is that she and Caelan are now separated from each other. We hope that they are re-united soon!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New blankets



We received a package for the babies the other day, which included (amongst many other things) these beautiful, personalized blankets made by Auntie Joyce. Thank you! We are told frequently that our babies are the best dressed children in the NICU!

Friday, October 26, 2007

First Grandpa cuddle!



Caelan has been off his CPAP machine all week and was able to get a first cuddle from his Grandpa on Wednesday. Unfortunately, he was placed back on CPAP on Thursday night because he kept forgetting to breathe, which causes his percentage of oxygen saturation to drop. I was hoping that his 3rd trial off would be his last, but it looks as though he still needs some extra time. We look forward to the time when he is off for good!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Caelan with no CPAP (video)

video

Weighing In


Because they are stable, both babies get their CPAP face-masks removed for their midnight weigh-in. We took an opportunity to visit them while Grammy and Grampy were at the house looking after Shaylah. It is sure nice to be able to see their faces! Ashlyn continues to be about 100 grams bigger than her brother, but he is starting to catch up.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pretty in pink


Ashlyn was moved into her new bed on Wednesday and the nurses have been having fun dressing her up all in pink. There is no mistaking that she is a girl anymore! She is now officially double her birthweight and continues to do well with her breathing. Both babies are wearing their own clothes and love to suck on their soothers. They are still fed by a tube and won't be able to bottle feed until they are stable off their CPAP machines. Right now, they find it difficult to eat and breathe at the same time, with most of their O2 desats occuring during their feeds.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

33 Weeks


The babies would have been 33 weeks gestation today, if they had not been born early.

Too hot!



Caelan is out of his incubator and into a "big boys bed". Both babies were getting too hot in their incubators and were ready for cribs; however, there was only one available. Instead of choosing which baby got to move, we made the decision fair and square. Caelan won because he had the higher temperature just before the move. So much for ladies first! Hopefully Ashlyn will get her crib within the next few days.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Growing

Both babies seem to be growing very quickly in the last few weeks, coming up close to 4 pounds! They are both maintaining their own temperatures in their incubators and will likely be placed into little cribs next week.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Back on CPAP


Caelan did very well to last 3 days off his CPAP machine. He was working pretty hard and needed a break so that he could concentrate on growing. I am sure we will have another trial off the CPAP soon. Until then, he continues to gain weight on a steady basis and is now well over 3 pounds.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Double Cuddle


I had the priviledge of holding both babies at the same time today!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Gaining weight


Ahslyn is still on her CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure), which maintains a small amount of air in her alveoli once she has fully exhaled. This makes it easier for her to take her next breath. She is growing more quickly than her brother and is officially 2 ounces heavier than he is. She takes after her Daddy when it comes to eating! :)

Hard work


Yesterday, Caelan started a trial off of his CPAP machine. He is getting low flow oxygen through nasal prongs, but he is doing all the work himself to breathe. It is quite exciting to be able to see his face! He was working pretty hard, but hopefully he will gain strength and be able to come off all breathing assistance soon.

Old man


We now know what Caelan is going to look like as an old man, with wrinkled skin and a receding hairline. We were finally able to get a good look at the area of hair they shaved for his IV. I sure hope it grows in quickly!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Garbage

OK, I had a moment of weakness with my little rant about the garbage strike. I feel a little guilty about it now, but it did result in many offers of help from those that do not live in Vancouver. Thank you to all of my wonderful friends who offered to take it away for me. Thank you especially to Cindy and Jayson who actually came to the house and took it to the dump for me in their pick-up truck. You truely blessed us with your kindness!

The big move


While we are extremely thankful that we were able to stay in Vancouver throughout this experience, we were not in the best spot within our room for the past 4 weeks. We were placed right beside a very busy door and were often in the way of the hospital staff. Today, we were able to move to a quieter corner of the NICU and we are all very excited. Caelan seems to be very sensitive to noise, so I think he will benefit the most from this move. Ashlyn is able to sleep through most of the noise, but I think she will be more settled as well. I guess it paid to be the only parent in the room when the new spots were assigned to each baby!

Feeding


Johnny was able to "breastfeed" Caelan through his feeding tube last night. The little one is now fully feeding on breastmilk (15 cc's every 2 hours), which is fortified with extra calories (HMF). He is also starting to gain some weight and now weighs 2 pounds, 11 ounces. Notice that the IV has now been taken out and he is doing great!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

First outfit


The night nurse decided to dress little Ashlyn up in a diaper shirt to help keep her warm. It won't be long before she actually fits into it!

First haircut


When I arrived at the hospital this morning, I discovered that an IV had been placed into Caelan's scalp. He has been on antibiotics for the past few days due to an infection and has blown out many IV's in his hands and feet. I was sad to see that they had to shave his head in order to place it. The good news is that he will be off the antibiotics by tonight and the IV can come out!

Little things

Sometimes it is the little things that seem to push me over the edge. I think I am handling the fact that my babies are critically ill and will be in the hospital until December (at least), but the fact that we have not had garbage pick-up for the last 8 weeks is starting to drive me crazy. I so much want to clean up the house and get rid of the garbage, but there is no where to put it! Johnny even loaded up the van one day to find out that all of the local dumps were already closed for the day because they are overloaded from all the Vancouver overflow. I just hope the strike ends soon!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

So small


It never ceases to amaze me how small these babies are. Here is a picture of Ashlyn in her incubator.

Study MRI


We were very fortunate to have both our babies enrolled in a study that will follow their development until they are 8 years old. Part of the study requires that they have MRIs of their brains shortly after birth and again at their due date. The pictures show an MRI compatible incubator...it can fit within the machine and contains no stainless steel within it's parts.




This is Caelan getting ready to be transferred into the new incubator. He is all bundled and has ear plugs in to protect his ears from the noise. He did wonderful throughout the test. Ashlyn was able to go on Thursday and we received wonderful news about her test.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Grateful

Despite the fact that our babies came 3 months early, there are many things that we are grateful for. We know that this time in our lives is all part of God's perfect plan and there have been many "coincidences" throughout the last few weeks that have demonstrated this....

1. I was working at Women's and Children's Hospital the day I was admitted.
2. Johnny was with me at the ultrasound and Shaylah was already being looked after.
3. Johnny had previously scheduled the week off work and his parents had made plans to come over for the week. They were a huge help for Johnny. The house fix-ups will just have to wait for another time!
4. We were able to stay in Vancouver. We were told that if the babies had been born a day later that there would have been no room for them in the NICU in Vancouver.
5. I lasted an extra 12 days on bedrest!
6. Both babies are doing well. We have amazing doctors and nurses here in Vancouver.
7. The support (through prayers, food and childcare) from family and friends. Thank you to everyone!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Birth story


Many people have asked me about my birth story, so here goes....
I went in for a routine ultrasound at 24 weeks to check the growth of the babies. I was actually working at the hospital that day, so I had planned on quickly getting it done during my morning break and then heading back to work. My day did not go as planned.
After checking the babies and finding out that we were going to have both a boy and a girl, the technician checked my cervix to find out that I was already 4 cm dilated and had bulging membranes (i.e. the amniotic sac had moved very low and had entered the birth canal). She ordered me not to move and I was quickly admitted to the hospital. I had no contractions until the stress of being admitted...I just happen to be one of those women that deliver babies very quickly (i.e. only 2 and a half hours for my first baby). Contractions did start in the labor and delivery room while we were being asked if we would like the doctors to save the babies (very stressful!). I was given some medication to relax my uterus , as well as steroid shots and antibiotics to give the babies their best chance.
My contractions stopped and I spent 2 nights on the labor and delivery ward with my head tipped below my feet. The idea was to take as much pressure off my cervix so that I wouldn't dilate any further. This was the position I would stay in for the next 12 days. I was not even allowed to raise the head of my bed to eat and there were definitely no bathroom priveleges! Once up on the prenatal ward, I was told many stories about women who had lasted many weeks with a dilated cervix, so I was able to relax. I wasn't worried and thought that I would be able to carry the babies for many more weeks.
On the night of the 12th day of bedrest (26 weeks and 1 day gestation), I started feeling some minor cramping. I thought they might go away, so I tried to ignore them. Unfortunately, after about 15 minutes, they were getting very regular. I quickly found out that I was 8 cm dilated, so I was rushed back downstairs to the labor and delivery room. Caelan was in a hurry and was coming head first, but Ashlyn was high and lying tranverse (sideways). The doctor did not want to risk a breech extraction with such a small baby, so an emergency c-section was performed. I was only able to see the babies for a few seconds before they rushed them to the NICU.
They are now at 29 weeks gestation and we are so thankful for the care they have received. We can't wait until we can bring them home!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Princess Ashlyn


Our little princess is finally off the ventilator and breathing by bubble CPAP. This is a rare picture taken with nothing on her face helping her to breathe. She has also had her IV taken out and is fully feeding on breast milk through a feeding tube in her mouth. We are so excited that this day finally arrived!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Surgery


We found out last night that Ashyln had to go in for surgery today to fix a small hole in her heart called a patent ductus arteriosis (PDA). This hole is normal in all babies when they are in the womb, but it usually closes a few days after birth. Because she is so premature, hers didn't close. The doctors have been monitoring her heart murmur for several days and just decided that it needed to be closed by a cardiac surgeon. The surgery was very quick and she came through beautifully. She has a 1 inch incision on the left side of her chest and she is sedated to help control the pain. I am thankful that it is over and that she can now start working towards getting off the ventilator and gaining some weight!