Meet Gracie and Luke, our six-year-old twins!
We waited for them forever and can't remember life without them.

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Our New Family

I've sat down about a dozen times to write this post and each time I do, I hear a whimper or a cry from another room and have to get up to check on the babies. Having them home is so wonderful. No more NICU! I really love taking care of them, holding them, feeding them. I am constantly awed by the fact that I am somebody's Mommy, let alone, two somebodies.

It isn't easy. I don't have anything to compare this to, but I can certainly say that I am exhausted and am desperate for some sleep. It has been hard because Eddie is in his wheelchair and can't help me with everything I need for the babies. We haven't gone grocery shopping either. He needs someone to help him and I need him to get someone else to go with him. The babies are generally fine for the first hour or so of an outing, but if I can avoid going out with them, that is the preference. It isn't that they aren't perfectly wonderful on a trip. It is just that an outing is like planning a military campaign and by the time the babies are in the car, I'm ready for a nap.

Gracie and Luke are growing like weeds. Gracie has already gained a pound and a half in the week or so since they have been home. Luke has gained several ounces, but they would like him to be gaining more. He is a pretty hefty 6.25 lbs, while Gracie is 4 pounds 12.5 ounces. Pretty great considering we haven't reached their due date yet. The nurses keep telling me the babies shouldn't even have been born yet. Gracie's face is filling in and she is looking great! Slowly, she is starting to look like a baby instead of a preemie. Luke has the sweetest face and makes these adorable sounds when he sleeps.

This Thursday will be the end of our second week home with them and they will be 4 weeks old. I promise to try to be better at posting updates!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

They're Coming Home!

So many things have happened this week. I had every intention of sitting here and writing about how much the babies have changed, the challenges of pumping (what seems like constantly), getting to feed the babies bottles, etc. But all of that has flown completely out of my head because the Twinsies are coming home today!

September 20th has always been a special day for Eddie and me. It is the date he first asked me to go out on a date. In fact, it was 19 years ago today that he got up the nerve to call me. Now, it will be even more special because it will be the day the Twinsies came home from the hospital.

Once they are home, I will sit myself down with a baby on my shoulder and tell you all about it. Right now, I feel like crying from the joy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gracie and Luke are One Week Old!

I can't believe it has already been a week since Gracie and Luke were born! So much has happened in the past 7 days. I can't even begin to take you through all of it, so I'll just share the highlights and info about the babies. Of course, a post about them would not be complete without pictures!

As I wrote last week, Gracie and Luke were born about 8:55 pm on September 5th. Both were taken to the NICU where they both started in Room A. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is arranged by room numbers indicating the level of care a baby requires. Room A is for the most critical babies and babies progress to Rooms B, C, or D as they improve.

By last Friday, Gracie had made her way to Room B and then on Saturday was moved to Room D! She is wonderfully healthy and just needs to grow. She started out at 3 lbs 7 oz and lost a bit of weight as the amniotic fluid was flushed from her system. On Sunday, she weighed 3 lbs 5 oz and is gaining a little bit of weight every day. The NICU measures weight in grams. She is currently at 1650 grams and when she hits 1800 grams, she will be moved to a regular bassinet instead of the intimidating isolette where she currently resides. She is already drinking from a bottle and has already expressed her preference for Mommy's milk instead of that yucky formula! I got to feed her her very first bottle on Monday, the 10th. She has made great progress in the feeding department and is taking an ounce of milk every 3 hours. This may not sound like a lot, but considering that she was only taking in one-sixth of that last Thursday, it is awesome! If she can only gain 9 more ounces and drink from a bottle at every feeding, she will get to come home.

Luke was in Room A until Monday, when we came in to visit and he had been moved to Room B. Luke's main issue continues to be his respiration. He was born needing lots of help getting in enough oxygen.
His lungs were not quite ready for the real world and so he had to use a lovely nasal canula. He still has them now, but they do not have to keep him on the same levels of oxygen as they did early on. His chest moves slower now and he does not lose his breath as much. He gets the hiccups often; not surprising since he had them 3 to 6 times a day when he was in my tummy. he no longer needs any antibiotics and had his IV removed yesterday. He is much happier now! As for his eating, this past Sunday, he was only eating 10 ccs of formula. Today, his nurse reported that he is up to 45 ccs (an ounce and a half). He is eating more than his sister, but he has a bigger body to maintain. She still wins for the first one to an ounce. The neonatologist called us this afternoon and told us that he is now on room air and the nasal canula will be removed tonight. If he does well with out it and can drink from a bottle for the next 36 - 48 hours, he will be able to come home this weekend!!!!!

Yesterday, they moved Gracie over to be with her brother in Room B. They like to keep twins together, so now, Daddy and I can visit the twins together. We were able to take our first family photo today! How exciting that it happened on their One Week Birthday!

Daddy and I visit the Twinsies every day and are already changing diapers, holding pacifiers, and staring at them for hours on end. Daddy has already been practicing lullabys with them. The other Moms and Dads will smile when they hear him singing and the Twinsies just love it. They smile at him and hold onto his fingers.

We are so excited to be a family and can't wait for the babies to come home!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The NICU


Within moments of being born, Gracie was wisked off to the NICU. Being only 3 lbs 7 oz at birth, she was too tiny to make her way to the regular nursery. She is very tiny, but when I see other babies in the NICU, she is good sized. Luke started in the regular nursery, but had problems breathing and soon found himself in the NICU as well.

Nurses can tell you about the NICU, but they can't really prepare you for the emotions you will go through seeing your babies there. I did not get to see the babies until the day after they were born. Daddy had already seen them three times and was already much more comfortable in the NICU than me. He knew his way around the NICU: how long to wash your hands, carrying a piece of paper towel so that if you need to touch something outside of the baby's area you don't need to rewash your hands. He had already seen the NICU and was prepared for the alarm sounds and the wimpering of the tiny babies there. I wasn't ready for it. Seeing Luke laid out in the bed with the oxygen and multiple leads attached to his chest was almost too much for me. He looked so small and the machines around him very intimidating. He was one of the wimpering babies. His chest rose and fell rapidly in an unnatural pattern and was very scary to watch. Gracie was slightly better. She was simply lying in her bed, much tinier than her brother.

It is very scary seeing the babies you have held safe in your tummy for 36 weeks lying spread out with tubes and wires attached to them. I feel an incredible sense of guilt whenever I see them. If only I could have kept them inside me for a bit longer, maybe they would have been stronger and would be able to be with me in my room. Instead, because they came so early, now they are lying on those beds where I can't hold them. It makes me so sad to see them there. I feel absolutely helpless.

Daddy tries to get me to look at the upside of it all: Luke is breathing room air with the aid of those fancy nasal tubes you see on ER all the time and Gracie is already demanding food. She is known as the sassy one and was such a screamer, that they had to move her to another room. Both babies have their Daddy's blood type and Luke looks just like his Daddy. He has the hairline to prove it! Once Gracie puts on some more weight, I'll be able to tell who she looks like. Right now, she is rather skinny.

The nurses seem to think that the babies will only need to stay in the NICU for a few weeks. I'll be going home tomorrow. Being separated from them will be hard, but Daddy assures me that we will be here all the time and as soon as we are able, we will get to feed Gracie.

There is a support group for the parents of NICU patients and Daddy and I are planning to go. We need to feel more of a connection to the place and get reassurance from the nurses who work there. While they are very supportive, I don't think I have been really paying attention to what they tell me about the babies. I am so focused on my babies that I shut out everything else.

Please keep Gracie and Luke in your prayers.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Gracie and Luke are here!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that Graciela Eva-Loretta and Lucas James entered the world about 8:55 pm on September 5, 2007.

Gracie weighs 3 lbs 7 oz.


Luke weighs 5 lbs 8 oz.

They are both in the NICU, but are doing well. See more pictures here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tonight's the Night!

Only one person voted for before September 6th as the day the babies would be born. How intuitive and brilliant she is (Good job, Martha!). Tonight at 7:30 we will be going in for the c-section and Hermie and Iggy will be here.

Oddly enough, I am very calm. I thought I'd be all crazed, but I'm just tired and relieved.

Watch the blog in the coming days for a birth announcement and pictures of the Twinsies!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Naked Belly!

For the past 12 weeks, I have had a monitoring device strapped around my belly. The TOCO monitor is designed to sense changes in the uterus. It can tell whether or not I am having a contraction. Some days, it does a better job than others depending on whether it has been placed correctly on my belly. In the beginning, it wasn't that bad to have it strapped on, but as the babies grew, the pressure of the TOCO became more and more uncomfortable. I had to wear it 24 hours a day (well, except when I was in the shower). The nurses and I started to joke that Hermie would have a TOCO imprint on her forehead when she was born.

Today, Dr. Hartford changed the orders concerning my TOCO monitoring. The TOCO was meant to tell the nurses and Dr. Hartford if I was contracting too much so that they could take actions to stop my labor. Now that we are only a few days away from Hermie and Iggy being born, I no longer need to wear it every hour of every day. I only need to wear the TOCO monitor when I am having an NST (non-stress test) and the babies' heart rates are being recorded. I officially have a NAKED BELLY! For the first time in 12 weeks, I can put my hands on my tummy and feel both Iggy and Hermie move. No more strap in the way. No more TOCO in the way. No more irritated skin under the TOCO. Just my naked belly and little babies moving under my skin.

I feel so free!

The latest update, by the way, is that the babies will be born by the end of the week. Dr. Hartford says it is time and is hoping to have his nurse schedule the surgery for Thursday or Friday. Woo hoo! (Eddie is excited because the babies will be here for the official beginning of football season. The Bears play on Sunday.)

We're almost there!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Months Ending in "BER"

We've already established that I'm a planner. I like to know when things are happening. I like to know when I am supposed to be somewhere. I like to be early for family events and work activities.

My due date, October 4th, was just a date. I'd read lots of books and articles that said most people did not give birth on their due dates and that I shouldn't count on it. I wasn't locked into the 4th, but in my head, I was going to give birth in October. October was an exciting month. If I gave birth in October, then my Mom would have grandchildren with birthdays in July, August, September, October, and November. I thought it was kind of cool.

When we entered the hospital in June, the dates of the Twinsies' birth became rather murky. I did not know if I was going to have them that moment or what would happen. As we passed into July, the date they would be born left my head. My job was just to grow babies. I focused on getting through each day. I tried not to let runs of contractions scare me. I never thought about the end of my pregnancy.

Then came the day I hit 34 weeks. We reached 34 weeks on August 23rd. Mentally, my job changed. I knew that the babies had hit a major milestone. According to my twins book and lots of websites, the Twinsies had completed the majority of their developing. Now, it was up to them to gain weight and finish their final development. If they were born now, very few of the scary things the neonatologist had told me about would affect them (things like brain hemorrhages, blindness, immature lungs, etc.).

Week 34 made me start to realize that we might actually make it to September. September 6th specifically. September 6th is, of course, the ultimate goal: 36 weeks. If the Twinsies are born then, there is a very good chance that they won't spend any time in the NICU; they may actually go to the regular nursery and be able to visit me in my hospital room instead of me visiting them.

A major shift occurred in my way of thinking. I was no longer just growing babies. Oh, no! I was beginning a countdown. Countdowns, I have since learned, are an entirely different animal from passing the time. Passing the time goes quickly because you don't know where the end is. You can go from day to day and not keep track of Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. You can just watch Forrest Gump or A Few Good Men for the 7th time and it doesn't really matter. But when a countdown commences, you start noticing things. For example, you start recognizing the same litigants on Judge Judy and The Peoples' Court. The clock becomes a greater focus. You pay much more attention to the date and correct people very quickly if they make a mistake. I, for example, took my calendar off the wall and started a countdown to September 6th. I actually worked backward from the 6th to wrote numbers for the countdown. Every person who walked into the room was reminded of the number of days I had left. In fact, every person who called me was also reminded.

Ick! Countdowns are awful. The sad part is that I did not realize I had subjected myself to the negative consequences of a countdown until it was too late. I specifically remember having 10 days left until September 6th and wondering if I was ever going to make it to single digit numbers. This counting down thing is torture!

When September 6th fell through as the day for the Twinsies to be born, a new obsession was born: I refused to let myself go into labor in August. I was determined to make it to September. I even told one of the nurses: "I will not give birth in a month that does not end in "BER." On Tuesday, August 28th, I had a lot of contractions. All day long, my eyes were on the contraction monitor and my tummy was sore! I told Dr. Hartford about my contractions the next morning and he decided to do a pelvic exam to see how we had progressed. He actually asked me when the last time was that we had done an exam. He seemed a bit surprised that it was back in June. When he checked me, he announced that I was 80 - 90% effaced. "Where is your husband?" he asked me. "He's close by, right?"

Aaaah! All of a sudden, my countdown was changed again. Dr. Hartford made it seem like we would be going into labor in the next few days. When I called Eddie and told him he needed to stay within 30 minutes of the hospital, he went into shock. All of a sudden, the babies were coming NOW and he wasn't ready for them. He told me later that day that he sat staring at a wall for hours trying to figure out if we were ready for babies to come. To this day, he is still in shock.

Every day following Dr. Hartford's exam slowed to a crawl. It was August and it was much earlier than my countdown had allowed. Friday, as a consequence, was torture for me. It was the last day of August. The babies were especially active that day and were making my uterus crazy! Iggy had the hiccups 6 times that day and all of the activity made me tired and cranky. I watched the clock like a child waiting for school to let out. If I could only make it 10 more hours...6 more hours...2 more hours. When the clock finally passed midnight, it was an enormous relief. We made it past August and into September. Yay!

It may seem silly, my need to make it to September. But when you've been in the hospital for almost 12 weeks, you focus on strange things. Here are some other things I have been focused on:
  • The hair on my arms used to be blond because I drove with my sunroof open. Now it has reverted to my actual hair color and the little dark brown/black hairs are making me feel ugly.
  • I haven't had a hair cut in almost 6 weeks. It has started to look rather wild. I don't do anything with it other than wash it and brush it. Sometimes, my bed hair makes me look like a crazy person. Lately, I have been getting up several times a day to wet it down and brush it so that the curls are slightly tamed.
  • I check my email at least 20 times a day. Heaven forbid some one's message waits longer than 5 minutes for a response.
  • I will not allow any trash to accumulate in any proximity to me. I will get up and waddle around my hospital room, collecting napkins, straw papers, etc and throwing them away. I almost drove Eddie crazy the other day, getting up and cleaning up after him. I just can't handle the idea that trash is around me. It needs to be in the trash can. Related to the trash obsession is the breakfast/lunch/dinner tray obsession. My trays cannot be allowed to stay on my table for more than 20 minutes before I start getting antsy.
As of today, we have begun what I hope is the last week of my pregnancy. We are 4 days from September 6th and I have decided to pin down Dr. Hartford to a date when he comes to see me on Tuesday. I want a plan. I need a plan. The murkiness is really bugging me (and pretty much everyone around me). The nurses say I should cry. They think that will work with him. Dr. Hartford is stronger than that. He won't be swayed by tears. A bribe might work though. He loves Eddie's pecan pie. I wonder if Eddie can bake from his wheelchair?