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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
The thing I look forward to most each day is getting to hold one of the babies. We usually alternate each day, so that one of the babies gets to come out of their incubators and have a cuddle with one of us each day. This was Ashlyn's turn with her Mommy. We have started "skin to skin" cuddles now, which the babies apparently love. We sit and hum songs to them and they calm right down. Our body heat keeps them warm and it feels amazing to have them so close. I admit it was pretty hard to bond with the babies before we got to hold them, but now we are totally in love with them.
Johnny finally got a chance to hold Caelan on the weekend. Our little boy is finally over 1 kg and just needs to keep growing. He continues to do very well and even had his IV removed this morning. He is fully feeding on breast milk and is breathing with the help of the CPAP machine. He is our little star!
So we came home from the hospital on Thursday night at about 11:00pm and let our beloved mutt out into the backyard one last time before we all went to bed. We could hear him barking at something, so we brought him inside. Once inside the house, we got quite the treat. He had been skunked! Not something either of us wanted to deal with when we were both exhausted. He was subsequently washed 4 times, but of course the skunk smell does not come out easily. We are off to buy some tomato juice today...hopefully that will do the trick. Does anyone have any other ideas?
It was a big day for Caelen yesterday. He was able to spend some time off the CPAP machine and did very well. It was nice to finally be able to see his little face and head again. He also had his PICC line removed and a peripheral IV was placed into his hand. Because of his small size, it took them 10 attempts to finally get it in place. Poor guy!
Ashlyn also had a big day. She had her umbilical lines removed and also had a peripheral line placed into her hand. At least it only took 5 tries for her! Both babies got to meet their Grammy last night and will get to meet Grampy today.
Caelan has been moving along very nicely and doesn't seem to have any of the complications of his little sister. He is currently on a CPAP machine to help remind him to breathe, but he is doing all the breathing for himself. He was put on his stomach for the first time yesterday and seemed to really enjoy the position. He has been feeding for a few days and he is now taking 4 cc's every 2 hours. He even gained a little bit of weight yesterday! Marsalie has been able to change his diaper a couple of times, while Johnny has changed Ashlyn's diaper. We are so thankful to God that Caelan is doing so well!
Here are the latest pictures of our sweet little girl. She is currently receiving phototherapy for her high bilirubin counts, which is why everything looks blue. She is still on the ventilator to help her breathe, but she is starting to over-ride the breaths given to her and is telling us that she is almost ready to come off. She started to feed yesterday (1cc every 4 hours) and hopefully will start gaining some weight! She has had to fight harder than her brother to stay healthy and we pray that God will continue to heal her little body.