Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 = Best Year of My Life

( This is me spending some time with Jo on New Years Eve)

All I can say is that this has been hands down the best year of my life. My dream of becoming a mother has come true and it has far exceeded my expectations. Just in the short time I have had the pleasure of spending with my babies, they have completely taken over my heart and soul. I am honored to say that I am the mom of Georgia Dawn, Jolynne Marie, and Mickey Aaron. Even though the journey was a long and hard one, it has a very happy ending, our beautiful family. I have no doubts (as frustrated as I am at times) that Jo and Mickey will be home soon into the new year. December 26th they turned 2 months old. Happy 2 months my little angels and Happy New Year. Mommy loves you! 2012 I know will be even better when we are all home together.

Georgia (2 months)

Jolynne (2 months)

Mickey (2 months)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Did I say roller coaster? I meant merry-go-round (without the merry).

The more time that seems to go by, the harder the days get for some reason, even though the babies are in a much better place now than they were when they were born. I think I was expecting them to be in the hospital for a awhile, 6 weeks at least given how far along I was, maybe a little longer, but I can honestly say I was not prepared for 10 weeks or more which is where we are at. I'm going to give another update on the babies. I wish they were all positive updates, but the reality if the situation is that its not always easy and I'm not always positive. I am very grateful for my babies and this is all worth it but some days, my sanity hangs in the balance.

Round and round and round we go. Lately I feel like we are going in circles. I can honestly say that with Mickey, I do not feel like we are any closer to going home than 4 weeks ago. That's because, if its not one thing, its another. He weighs 7 pounds now! Wow, a normal baby size and will be full term in a another week. Although his breathing has improved, he still requires oxygen. Its getting better though. To make things even more complicated though we learned he is aspirating almost all his food when he swallows, so its going directly into his lungs, which of course has slowed down the healing of his lungs. He does what they call "silent aspirating" so he does not choke or cough and we had no idea he was doing it except we were wondering why we were not able to wean his oxygen. So they did a barium swallow test and actually saw the milk go into his lungs as he ate. Awesome! They tried different thicknesses of formula and milk and different nipple sizes and he was able to successfully swallow the highest level of thickness (honey) with aspirating. However, the doctors will not let him start nipple feeding again until he is almost completely off oxygen. They want to focus on his breathing and reduce any inflammation caused by the aspirating before trying again. This could take several weeks, or it could take one, but if it is going to go anything like everything else, it will take around two weeks, then they will start letting him nipple feed the thicker formula in very small amounts and build up. Then in another 6-8 weeks they will do another barium swallow study. They do not expect his swallow to improve before that but he may tolerate the thicker formula.

This means he might not be home for a lot longer than we thought. We should have a better indication by Monday of what that looks like but who knows anyway, every time we think we have an idea of what is going on, something else happens and back we go. There is also been talk he may have to go home on oxygen or an NG tube (feeding tube) depending on how the next couple weeks go. So Monday we will know more. Maybe. Maybe not.

Jolynne had a successful surgery, but it took her a full 10 days to have a bowel movement and they would not start feeding her until to make sure her intestines were working properly. This was three days ago. So they started feeding her 10 ml's that day. Overnight she threw up three times, which means she was not tolerating the food. So they stopped feeding her again and yesterday they did a barium enema to make sure there was not a stricture or obstruction in which case more surgery would be required. Thank GOD, there was not, so tomorrow morning they will try again an even smaller amount and hopefully the enema will help push some things through and move it along so she does not get backed up so to speak and throw up her food. Then she needs to build up to about 60ml's of food or 2 ounces every three hours, starting with 5ml's tomorrow. This they tell me will take about 4 weeks. I am so happy my baby made it through her surgery though. She is so alert and awake, with so much personality and she weighs 5 pounds, 10 ounces now. Wow! They aren't preemies anymore, are they?

Georgia is doing well at home. She is starting to cry more and behave like a normal baby. This is a relief actually. She loves to be held and we love to hold her. We have wanted this for so long. I hope she does not get to used to it though because eventually there will two other babies she will have to share us with. She is such a joy to have around and when at homewe just sit and stare at her and laugh at her little noises and make faces at her faces and its just so wonderful. Anyone who is a parent knows what I am talking about. Its an indescribable feeling. I cannot look at her, or any of the babies for that matter, and not be happy regardless what else is going on.

I think I am really struggling to keep it together at this point though. I am not embarrassed to admit it. Its been 10 weeks and I just want my family to be all together. I dream of that day. My mom pointed out to me this morning, as I was still upset over the 6am phone call about Jolynne throwing up and the day before learning about Mickey's set back, that nothing has gone easy for me, its always been the long and hard way (part of that was my own doing), so why should this be any different than any of those other times, it is what makes me stronger. She is right, it has been hard at times, and I am strong, and I was always expecting this to be hard from the moment I learned we were having triplets, but this is harder than I thought. And I will get through it, and I will be even. stronger., and even though right now it feels like a never ending circle we are stuck in, my babies will eventually come home so we can begin our new life together.

I was talking to one of the nurse practitioners yesterday and I was almost begging her to give me an estimate of when they can come home, even though she doesn't know, and things could change tomorrow. I was also looking for some reassurance. I said I feel like I should not be upset, there are so many other parents in worse situations than we are, whose babies may not be ok, and I know mine will be, and she stopped me and said, "Stop! Kara, I do this every day, I talk to parents who have a baby born at 30 weeks, who are dealing with the ups and downs of the NICU and the different complications that come from being a preemie, and watching their baby struggle, and you have THREE." Then I didn't feel so bad for feeling down and overwhelmed. My heart goes out to any parent that has to go through this though, one baby or three, its a tough place to be at times.

So, I am going to take the next few days off from the hospital, well I am going to try. Every time I plan to get something done in the morning before heading over there, my car seems to just steer itself in that direction and I put off whatever it was I was going to do. Its just so hard to stay away from my babies. But it has been recommended to me to try and do some things for myself and re energize. That way maybe I can go back to the NICU in a couple days without feeling so overwhelmed. SO, I am going to try at least today, but I'm not sure if I can make it two days without seeing them.

You may be wondering how Tommy is doing and he is doing better than I, I suppose, He is amazing. He is frustrated as am I but not as emotional. Is it a girl thing or what? We are both looking forward to the new year and what it holds for our family. The chance to all be together finally. A lot of good memories we will be making this next year and I cant wait.

A blog is a place where I feel its important to be honest about what you are writing about, otherwise whats the point, so I hope you don't mind reading even when its not always the most positive. There will be happy entries and sad entries but this is how it is, just like with every thing else in life. Ups and downs, and hopefully my next entry will be more ups than downs. The big picture is I still have three beautiful babies that I thank God for every day and I, more than most probably, understand how fragile life is, and how quickly it can be taken from you, so even though I have had some bad days lately, I try not to lost perspective of what is really important at the end of the day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Blues

OK so not really an update. I just needed to write about the every day ups and downs I seem to be having (or the babies are having and I am feeling). Let's start with Christmas. Despite the fact I still have two babies in the hospital, I am still looking forward to Christmas, even though it is toned down a bit from years past. We still put our lights and tree up, we are still making cookies and watching our favorite Christmas movies at night before bed. Being home with Georgia has forced us to do just that, be home, so we have a bit more time while we are here to do stuff. We just cant go anywhere :-) except I did make it to church last Sunday. I really needed that. I am still listening to Christmas music, and I am still missing my dad. I look at my babies and I wonder why he didn't get to meet them. BUT, I could drive myself crazy asking questions like that. Questions I will never have the answer to. Mickey does happen to have a birth mark on his left eyelid. They call it an angel kiss. I think its from my dad, his Papa.

Some days I am in a very Christmasy mood and then others, I feel overwhelmed. I thought I had the hang of this NICU thing, I mean, it has been 8 weeks, but some days I still just feel so tired of it all. Don't get me wrong I am so thankful and  grateful for my blessings and that my babies are here and that they will be OK, but I am tired of that hospital. Most days I feel like we are making progress, the babies are making progress, Mickey is starting to nipple feed, I think he is done with the C Pap for good. Jolynne has been recovering nicely from her surgery, however she has still not had a bowel movement, which means she cant eat, which means she is starving. Have you ever seen a starving baby? I mean a baby that really has not had anything in her stomach for a week? It is very  hard to be there and watch her cry out she is so hungry and not be able to do anything to help. Those days, I feel tired of it all. Truth is though, I just need to be patient, they will be home soon. I do feel like how patient can one person be though. I have been patient. But if  there is one thing I am sure that will be tested over and over again now that I have triplets, it will be my patience. And that's OK, at the end of the day, I don't mind one bit.

So, there is the baby stuff and then there is the every day life stuff that is still happening even though I have triplets and two are in the hospital. Life doesn't just stop for me because I have enough going on. There are people I love that are still sick and I worry about. There are friends I think of and my heart goes out to when someone they love is lost. There are doctors appointments and bills to pay and errands to run. There are birthdays to think about and two dogs that need just as much love. There are every day aches and pains I still feel, probably from stress but I keep going because I have to. I just have moments like these where I need to write it out and then maybe I will feel better.

I never knew what my purpose was until two months ago when my babies were born. Not many people can say they have triplets or that they would be able to handle that or having your babies in the hospital, but I do and I will and I promise to be a good mom and raise them right and find a way to get through the NICU days as tired as I am. I will do it and I will be glad. But everyone has bad days.

So now that I have that off my chest, I am going to give it my all to get through the rest of the week in a very Christmasy spirit no matter what a happens. There are good days and bad days at the NICU, but at least I have these days, these today's and tomorrows and that's enough to be thankful for and celebrate this Christmas. We can celebrate today and we can celebrate the babies no matter where they sleep at night, they are still mine, and they are still the most beautiful angels I have ever seen on earth.

Georgia and Mickey

Mickey - he was asking where the food is?

Friday, December 9, 2011

One home, two to go!

Wow, so much as happened since my last update I don't even know where to start. Actually, lets start with the fact that we have one baby girl who is home with us and we are ecstatic. When we found out she could come home, it was after a not so good night with Mickey , so it helped us feel a little better, even though we still had concerns for Mickey, we were relieved to have one less baby to say goodbye to when we left the NICU at night. She is doing great at home. She is still on a schedule every three hours and that has made it a fairly easy transition. Tommy and I take turns at night so we each get about 4-5 hour stretch of sleep at least once without interruption. I know this will change when the other two are here. Feedings will take more like an hour and half instead of 30 minutes when we wake up. Georgia so far (fingers crossed) is not a crier. she makes lots of squeaks and groans when she is awake and even when she is asleep but not a lot of crying. Does that come later? The dogs are curious but no major issues yet. Of course we are keeping her well off the ground level. I don't quite trust them yet with her in the bouncer. Georgia had her first doctor appointment today and I am happy to say even after two days at home she is still gaining weight and is now 4 pounds, 14 ounces!

Jolynne is doing good too. She is stable, still practicing nipple feeding twice a day but otherwise she is still getting most of her nutrients and fat through a feeding tube. She now weighs 3 pounds, 15 ounces. Her surgery is scheduled for next Friday, when they will put her intestines back together. Recovery we are praying will go smoothly and hopefully she will only be back on the ventilator a couple days. Then she can start to try and eat again, slowly.

Mickey and Jolynne now have the connecting rooms now that Georgia is home which makes it nice for us when we are there. Mickey is the one who keeps me up at night with worry, or maybe its the phone calls from the doctors in the wee hours of the morning saying he had another "episode". We have tried to take him off the C-Pap so many times, and he will do great for 12 hours or more and then suddenly he will stop breathing and they have to bag mask him, or push air into his lungs manually to get him to start again. That's when the doctor on duty decides, put him back on C-Pap. Then the next day, he looks great, low oxygen, lots of energy and so he goes back to high flow nasal cannula, and then we leave, he has another "episode" and back on C-Pap he goes. This has happened at least three - four times back and forth the last 5 days. I am starting to lose count. The fact is his oxygen requirements are lower than a week ago, and his pressure settings are lower, and he is not working so hard to breath as he was a week ago, but then he has these isolated incidents that set him back again and it has left all of us, including the doctors and nurses kind of at a loss. Is it respiratory related at all, or is it something serious like another infection, or is it reflux? This has led to many long drawn out conversations between me and the doctors this week. If they don't think it is respiratory and that it is reflux, and he has even had an episode on C-Pap, then why do they throw him back on C-Pap every time it happens? Is C-pap really the answer? No one knows. So, today he is back on nasal cannula and we are just hoping to get through the night without any phone calls from the hospital. The doctors have said I ask very good questions on more than one occasion, logical questions ( I guess some parents just listen and and nod? I know so much now I swear I come up with ideas they didn't think of) and then they ask me what I do for a living, and so I tell them Human Resources, and then they look at me funny and confused, and I take that to mean they don't think people in Human Resources are very logical... : )

All joking aside, we are praying he will grow out of this and start to take steps forward. Until he can breathe better, he cant learn to eat on his own. So, our little Georgia is home, but we have a very fragile boy who is still fighting to breathe and another little girl facing a very big surgery next week. Please pray for them and for Tommy and I that we don't let the NICU and the constant up and downs get the best of us. Having Georgia home helps.

I posted this last picture on face book but I will post here as well. Santa visited the NICU on Tuesday. He is a retired NICU nurse and a very nice man who looked like the real Santa Claus :-). It was an ordeal getting all three babies together, Georgia was wide awake and easily mobile, Jolynne did not want to wake up and had to stay close to her isolate due to her IV's and Mickey had some trouble breathing so it was a quick picture and they were back apart again but not before I shed a few tears of happiness in seeing them together for the first time in their lives and in mine.

P.S. We are still looking for a nanny if you know someone who may be interested. Every time we think we found someone we like, it falls through for one reason or another. I don't understand how I can recruit people for all kinds of positions at work, yet I can't find someone (qualified) to take care of three adorable babies for 8 hours a day?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 37 and Counting

Well, today was day 37 in the NICU for the babies, but who's counting? Lots has happened since my last update. Every day things change. We take steps forward and then back and then forward again especially with Mickey, who likes to keep us on our toes. He was taken off of C-pap, only to be put back on 2 days later just like with the breathing tube. We have learned if we rush him, he goes backwards, so we have to be careful. They took him off C-Pap again yesterday and so far so good. I hope its permanent this time so he can start focusing on other things. He weighs 4 pounds 10 ounces, Georgia is 4 pounds 1 ounce and Jolynne is 3 pounds 7 ounces. She has a lot of trouble gaining weight but the last couple days have been better. Her surgery is scheduled for December 16th, where they will put her intestines back together. We were ecstatic to actually get a date set in stone and its sooner than we thought. Originally they told us after Christmas. Still she will be in the NICU awhile. After the surgery she goes back on the breathing tube and starts her feedings from square one, all over again until her intestines learn what to do. This could take weeks or even longer. we are hoping our little fighter pushes forward as she always has and comes home before the doctors actually estimate she will. Maybe she will surprise us.

Georgia is on her way to coming home. Maybe another week or two. She is taking about 65% of her food on her own now and not through the feeding tube. As soon as she can take the rest on her own and maintain her body temp, she will be able to join us here. Her and Jolynne were moved to the continuing care part of the NICU. You are supposed to not have any IVs or oxygen before going there but they made an exception for Jolynne so she could be with her sister. They each have a room but they connect so I can see both of them from where I sleep. Its very quiet there without all the beeps and alarms going off and much more privacy. Once Jolynne has her surgery she will have to go back to the regular NICU where they can monitor her more closely. I spent the last two nights there and I am sore, tired and just plain spent. Georgia's schedule is every 3 hours and Jo's is every 4 so that's, 5pm and (6 pm), 9pm and (9pm), 12 pm and (1pm), 3pm, 5pm, (6pm). Jo's times are in parenthesis. So you can see how much I am awake. Since they are both at 9pm, I usually start to sleep at 10:30 by the time they have both been fed and changed and then up again at 12pm until 2pm, and then up again at 3pm, and then 5pm, etc. Jo's on a four hour schedule because she is on continuous feeds through a tube to help her gain weight until the surgery. I look forward to them both being on a 3 hour schedule, which will still be difficult given the time it takes to feed and change each one, but it will better than it is now. Right now feeding can take awhile because they are still learning so everything is not working like clockwork yet. Georgia has explosions every time we change her diaper and that's another reason it takes so long. Last night we had to completely take apart the isolate to clean it, so you can use your imagination. As tired as I am, its still very exciting for me. I love being next to them all night and all these little things that take time, they also make me smile. I am so very happy to be dealing with it all. Tonight I am taking a break though and staying home. The first night was not too bad but I think it caught up to me today. I don't want to overdo it before they even get home. I hope Mickey can join the girls in continuing care soon. He needs to master his breathing before they will consider it and he has not even started to nipple feed, he has a ways to go but we think he is over the hump.

All in all though they are getting better and bigger every day. It is a slow process and as sick as I am of that hospital, these babies really do grow fast and I see them change daily. I cant wait for next week when Santa visits the NICU. It will be the first pictures of all three triplets together, the first time they will be together again since being inside me. I know I will be crying. Hopefully my next entry will be about Georgia coming home. Everybody cross your fingers and toes!