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Monday, July 30, 2012

Need to breathe!

Hello all!

Life is definitely changing for us!  One thing this Journey is teaching me is that there are more ups & downs, twists and turns than a roller coaster.  As soon as I get use to a new "phase", another one comes.  My husband probably would tell you that although I am a fairly flexible person, I takes me a while to get use to life changes... of which we have, and will continue to have, a plethora of!  From phase to phase... pregnancy, quad birth, NICU, their return home... you better believe God is doing a work on us!
Our new home away from home: Tyler & Lauren's Isolettes in our NICU room

All 4 of our babies on both sides of the room:  Clockwise from front left: Tanner, Hannah, then Lauren & Tyler on right (with one of our favorite nurses, Nurse Kathy, documenting in the middle!).  Yes, we take up most of the room.  There are 6 isolettes in all and 2-3 nurses staffed in the room at all times.

Saturday I spend more time in tears than not (HELLO, post-pregnancy HORMONES!!).  Since then I have felt a little more "stable", but it's an emotional ride.  I feel more distracted, ditzy, emotional, and overwhelmed than I ever have in my life!!  Between balancing being attentive to a 4 year old, trying to keep quality time with the husband, pumping every 2 hours, cleaning the house, catching up on tasks, updating friends & family, eating, sleeping, and driving 1/2 hour to spend a few hours in the NICU, I am learning the art of multitasking and prioritizing!  There is always SO MUCH TO DO... and thus, a reminder to myself:  I.  Need.  To.  Breathe.  (and pray... and take it one day at a time)!
I needed to go to a happy place just now.  Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh...  much better.

Our four beautiful miracles are stable and overall doing good!  While each day has its ups and downs, I feel we have turned a corner from fearing one of them might not make it to knowing they will live, but not knowing how their stories will unfold.  I try to visit for at least a few hours each day, and I rotate holding at baby each day.  The staff encourages "kangaroo care" skin-to-skin holds for at least an hour, so with four babies I usually only have the luxury of holding one every fourth day!  Once they are off cpap I will be able to hold 2 at a time.  Yeah!!!  I wish I could be there longer or go there several times a day, but this is often not realistic.  I just do what I can, and so does Andy.

Tyler continues to thrive outside of the womb.  Praise Jesus!  However, he was put back on oxygen via a nasal cannula because sometimes his O2 drops a little low (preemies often "forget" to breathe, as they are still practicing this in amniotic fluid until birth at 40 weeks).  We pray he does not need to go back on cpap!!  He still is the littlest, but gaining weight steadily.  Tyler is on a "full feed" (15 cc's- around a teaspoon!) and so was able to get his IV taken out!  He currently is 13" long and back to his starter weight, 1#14 oz.
"Hi, everyone!  I'm the laid back dude of the crew!"
Tyler getting cleaned up by Nurse Lori
Lauren is doing good.  She is still on cpap and tolerating full sized feeds like Tyler.  The medicine she took to close up her heart WORKED!  Answered prayers!  She needed a blood transfusion last week but is now doing well.  Another answered prayer is that she got to go off her IV because she is on a full feed!  She is gaining weight and had her chest tube removed on Friday, so I FINALLY was able to hold her!!!  Precious, just precious.  Mommy needed that probably even more than Lauren did.  I held her for 2 1/2 hours and could've held her all day long.  I held her again today.  She is such a sweetie and I am so glad I get to bond with her now too!  She currently weighs 2# 8oz.

Cuddling with my Lauren Bug!
A nurse cleaning up pretty Lauren's face

Sweet baby girl holding my thumb!

Mommy & Lauren

Hannah's first round of medicine to close her PDA valve did not work, but a second round did-- More praises!  She also FINALLY got a successful PICC line in (a reinforced IV that will not collapse).  Poor girl had 5-7 attempts before this one worked.  She has very tiny, spidery veins which makes the procedure very difficult.  She had a bad reaction to the pain meds given to her on the first attempt, so each other attempt has been without pain meds.  My poor girl!  She is up to almost a full feed and has a double chin starting!  She is still on cpap but hopefully will be off soon.  Hannah is our biggest at 17" long and 2# 15 oz-- almost a 3 pounder!!!
Sweet Hannah Bean with the picc line in her wrist
Tanner had a second round of medicine to close up his PDA valve also, and it resulted in making the hole smaller but still small to moderate in size.  The doctors feel that these often close up on their own, and so are hesitant to talk about any surgery until they wait a bit to see if it will close up naturally.  We are praying that it does indeed do that.  He is still on cpap but tolerating almost a full feed.  He and I had good cuddle time yesterday and I love exploring his face, praying over him, and singing to him!  He is almost as big as Hannah at 15 3/4" and 2# 11 oz.

Our Tanner man snuggling under some bean bags (positioned on his tummy & legs)

All the kids' favorite position:  on their tummy!  Tanner getting some zzzzz's

 Thank you all for your continued support, prayers, encouragement, and understanding as we tread on unknown and sometimes overwhelming ground.  God is good-- we know He planned this as a part of our lives and we feel privileged to have been chosen to raise a beautiful daughter and these four babies.  Yet, we more than often feel shocked and amazed that God seems to think we have the nuts-and-bolts skills to raise quadruplets and Jenna... and the answer, of course, is that WE DON'T!  When we try to do it on our own, the result is a mess.  I have already learned this and will continue to re-learn this over and over as I fail miserably when I take my eyes off My Helper!!  But, if Andy & I remember, and choose to rely daily on His strength, wisdom, guidance, and peace... that and taking the help He gives us, in the form of friends, family and His gifts, then I know we can get through this successfully.  I firmly believe these kids are for His Glory.  In 30 years if we are able to raise 5 somewhat decent adults out of this, the Good Lord knows it won't be because we are Dr. Spock.  It's because we took His lead.

Thank you all who have sent cards, gifts, well wishes, made meals, helped out, etc.!!!  I normally try to be so prompt with writing thank-you notes for gifts, but for the moment it might be safe to say that they will be coming a little later than normal.

My four small but very loved babies in the NICU are learning to breathe successfully on their own and thrive... and in the same way, I need to remember to breathe. and. take. it. one. day. at. a. time.



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Babies One Week Birthday!

I came home from another nice chunk of time in the NICU today, and got some cuddle time with my boys tonight!  Yeah!  Things are looking fairly good- here is an update on all our kiddos!

First, Big Sister Jenna:

She is such a great daughter- our little princess!
Visiting with her sister Hannah

Jenna is doing awesome at home and, because I have been so disabled with the tolls of carrying the babies in my body, she is giddy, super happy & attentive, and just plain wonderful now that she has her "old mommy" back.  She is also cracking me up with her comments, like:  "Mom, you can pick things off the floor again" and "Yeah, mom!  You can go down the stairs again!"  I thought balancing the NICU life with attending to her would be tricky, but it is working out very well so far.  She and I have been craving the unhindered together time so much that I have been able to fill up her "love bank" easily by doing the things we always did before!  Lots of love, attention, play, and together time= joy for all!

 Jenna has gone with Andy and I a few times already to the NICU.  She does great there and loves visiting the kids and knows who is where in our room.  The children's hospital has a lot of kids-friendly options in terms of things for us to do with her there, and so she is looking forward to "exploring" the hospital with me in weeks to come.
Coloring pictures for the babies in the NICU room
Jenna is LOVING the active time with mommy again and mommy is LOVING the active time with Jenna, too!

I also have been healing amazingly well from the c-section.  After Jenna's c-section, I was in the most miserable pain for weeks!  But this time?  Barely any pain.  I stopped taking Vicodin during the day and just Motrin is doing the job well.  I think it's a mixture of being so large and helpless before + my 2nd c-section + motivation to "do" lots of things again + prayers!  My milk has also come in and I am pumping all the time! So far I am able to feed all babies.  Granted, they don't need much yet each feeding, but hopefully my supply increases with the demand-- four babies are a lot to feed!  And if I can't, God Bless donor breast milk!!

OK, back to the updates of the babies.

Tyler Allen:
I snuggled with this kiddo today!  Although the smallest, he is doing the best!  He is doing great with no breathing support and an echo on his heart showed no murmurs.  He is a drama-free dude so far, besides some little things here & there.  In the NICU, that is great!
Snuggle time with my little dude Tyler.  He is only about 1#10oz.
Lauren Faith:
Lauren went off the ventilator last night!!!  She is on cpap now and doing well.  An echo showed a large hole in her heart (let me quickly explain: a PDA valve is suppose to shut when babies are born and it does not always shut when premies are born.  This can lead to a murmur, which indicates a small, medium or large "hole".  They often will close up on their own but the large ones they need meds to help close.)  Thus, Lauren is now on meds for the next 3 days to try to close the valve.  She still has a tube in her lung from her pneumpthorax, but it is doing well so they may be able to take it out soon.  This is VERY good, because I have not been able to hold her yet at all due to the trach that was in her throat from the vent and the tube in her lungs!  I NEED to hold my little Lauren!
The picture is grainy b/c we can't use a flash, but Lauren is so beautiful :-)

Hannah Faith:
Hannah is now off cpap also, and is breathing with no support!  Yeah!  She also had an echo that showed a large hole in her heart, so she is also on meds for the next 3 days.  Her veins have collapsed a lot and she has been unable to get a port line (called a picc line) but today the IV she had in has stayed good and has not collapsed.  Praise Jesus!  Personalities are starting to come out, and Hannah is our verbal, spunky drama queen.  She was the most active one in my belly, too.  What fun to get to know my babies individual personalities!
Hannah decided to vacation in Costa Rica today.  Getting a nice tan.  You go, girl!

Tanner Andrew:Tanner is also a cool dude who is very laid back and drama-free.  He also is breathing room air without any supports and is doing great.  Like Hannah and Lauren, Tanner too has a large hole in his heart and so is also on the meds.  The docs say the meds often do close up the holes, but if not, they can try the medicine again or there is a surgery they can do later for it.  Lets pray the meds work for all 3!
My sweet Tanner Man snuggling with me.  I love them all so much!!!
Andy and I are doing amazingly well as we transition to this new phase of life, and we feel SO BLESSED by all your support, encouragements, help, thoughts & prayers.  I still have not gotten through all my emails and messages, but they do not go by unnoticed.  Each and every one means so much to us!  Thank you all for your prayers, chains of prayers, kindness and just hopping along this crazy journey with us!  God is so good.  I often pray that He blesses you "saints" out there tenfold!

And now... one thing I need desperately... sleep!
Good night!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Back at Home...

It has definitely been quite a week!  I am home tonight, and as expected, it was a mixture of emotions.  It feels really good to be home, and Jenna was SOOOO happy and giddy when we picked her up from grandma & grandpa's.  She was attached to my hip tonight and it felt wonderful being able to snuggle with her close(r) to me again-- wow, did my belly really get in the way of needed snuggle time!

However, I cried most of the drive home!  Although I know in my head they are better off in the NICU, emotionally I really miss them and want them home!!!  More accurately, I just really don't like being so far from them.  I loved being a small walk and elevator ride from them, with 24/7 access... now, they are in a hospital a half hour away!  I won't be able to drive for probably the next week, and when I can, I still have things I need to do at home, none as important as a little girl so hungry for time with me and a husband who has been such a trooper but needs me around, too.... yet I have 4 little ones needing me also-- what a balance.  I really miss my babies (**tears**).  My milk has come in wonderfully, and so that is actually a great excuse to "have" to go to the hospital regularly.  Yeah for the perks only a mom can bring!

Today, being my last day, I actually got 6 hours of sleep, followed by another hour and a half!  Then I took a nice shower & ate breakfast (the hospital food was actually really good!  NO complaints here, only that I wish I could still just call a number and have whatever food I desired brought to my door!).
After I packed up, Andy came to the hospital and the staff was very nice and told us to take as long as we wanted in the afternoon in the NICU.  So, we went there for several hours and got to love on our babies.  Our boys actually got skin-to-skin time with both of us!  Andy snuggled with Tanner while I snuggled with Tyler for about an hour.  It was SOOOO great.  I just love the kangaroo holds!
Andy cuddling with his little Tanner Man

Our little guy Tyler

Mommy & Tyler
Tanner and Tyler are doing great.  Tanner is doing great since his early scare, and had his chest tube taken out.  He is still on cpap, a pretty normal thing.  He is taking feeds like a champ and is adorable.  Tyler is just plain showing off right now.  He is OFF the cpap and any other breathing devices, and breathes room air just fine.  Still the smallest, he is a fighter and I LOVED my cuddle with him today.  He slept contentedly the whole time, with only a few cute peeks up at me.  He is feeding well, too.

Our girls are doing well, too!  Lauren is still on a ventilator, and she had a chest tube inserted yesterday to help remove excess air that is building up in her lungs.  She is tolerating feeds well, too, and is  such a little sweetie.  Hannah and her do light therapy.  They all have (and will continue to),which is pretty typical for all preemies to help with liver functioning.  Hannah is on a cpap, and is doing well.  Some feeds she does better than others, but she is working on it!
Hannah getting Bilirubin light therapy (a.k.a a Bermuda trip)

Our precious little Lauren also under the lights (or perhaps dreaming of Mexico?)
A few good bits of news:  first of all, last night Tanner, Lauren & Tyler all got a PICC line put in-- its a tiny port line that goes in from the arm to near the heart so that the nurses don't have to keep on poking them several times a day and dealing with veins that collapse easily.  Tyler will probably get one in today or tomorrow, too.  Although it was a sterile and bigger procedure, I got to watch it on Tanner and am so glad they won't be getting lots of pokes from here on out.

I also think I told people on FB, but not sure if it was blogged yet, that the Shingles Exposure Fiasco is all done!  They lifted the strict protocols yesterday morning-- Praise the Lord!!!  Once Infection Control examined & investigated all the evidence, it was found that the red marks on the babies (which were very typical marks that any nicu babies' skin could show, due to such delicate skin and tape, tags, irritations, etc) was not shingles related.  Plus, the incubation time was all off from when the poor nurse first noticed it, and also the lab samples came back negative.  SO-- after a scare & a day with strict gowning up procedures and lots of questions, many of our prayers were answered and the issue was resolved!  Praise the Lord!!

FINALLY, some of the best news yet, this morning all four babies had CT scans of their brains to determine if any of the babies have brain bleeds, a common issue with newborns.  The results???  ALL 4 BABIES ARE NEGATIVE FOR BLEEDS!!  God is SO good!  Thank you for your prayers, because they have definitely been graciously answered by Christ!

Now we just have to figure out what our new normal will be.  Now is the time I realize I will need help more from family and friends, especially in terms of rides to hospital until I can drive again, meals, house help, etc.  I somehow need to resume life at home, care for Jenna, pump every 2-3 hours, and see the babies regularly.  And then once we get use to that new normal, it will change again.  It's quite an adventure!  For right now, I would literally go crazy if I thought of all the things in weeks to come, so I am doing quite well taking it day by day.  Andy and I have the next 2 days figured out.  We will go from there!  This attitude, by the way, is in no ways because I have the skills.  It's because all you amazing people are praying for me.  Andy said when we were driving home today with a new kind of awe, "God REALLY does answer prayers..."  As simple of a statement as that is, it is more difficult to sometimes live than anything else.  Living with the faith of a child, a Child of God.  That is what is getting us through, and we still feel so privileged to have this life.  We are so blessed with our 5 children, no matter how they decided to come!

Thank you all so much for your support & prayers!  Will keep in touch...


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Introducing Our Four Miracle Babies!

Hello, everyone!

What a busy past couple of days we have had!!!  I have been much busier than I had expected to be since I safely delivered our babies on July 17, 2012 around 2:15 PM.  My husband and family have been doing an excellent job trying to keep people updated, but now I finally have my laptop and some time to update this blog with some cute pics!!

We had a very successful and "normal" c-section delivery on Tuesday afternoon.  As uneventful as it could be, I guess, for a person delivering quadruplets!  There were 26 workers in our room with us and we had an adjourning room that took 2 more babies, so we literally had a huge team of doctors, nurses, L & D and NICU staff helping out!  The staff was awesome.  Once all babies were out of me, they were quickly whisked to the NICU, and all were able to go with only CPAP breathing support (no vents!).  I was stitched up and when recovering Andy went to be with the babies in the NICU while my mom and sister took turns recovering with me.  Here is the order of arrivals with stats (the babies get re-numbered ABCD based on who gets pulled out first, second, etc.  sort of confusing!)
(Baby A) Lauren Faith was 2 lbs, 5 oz and 13 3/4" long
(Baby B) Tyler Allen was 1 lb, 14 oz and 12 1/2" long
(Baby C) Tanner Andrew was 2 lb, 4 oz and 14" long
(Baby D) Hannah Grace was 2 lb, 12 oz and 15" long

Our "First Born", Lauren!  They wrapped the babies in plastic to keep them warm

Our Little Guy Tyler.  Little, but feisty!

Pretty sure this is our Tanner Andrew.  Strong man!

Our sweet little Hannah getting checked out

Some of the army of doctors and nurses working on our crew that morning
When I was recovering, the nurses gave me some interesting news.  They said that upon examining Tyler's placenta they found the reason why he was smaller.  Typically umbilical cords come out from the center of the placenta, but his cord came out from the side.  It meant that he was not, nor would ever, have gotten the full distribution and nutrients from the placeta like the others.  Our doctor later explained it like this:  if a tomato plant is potted around the edge of a planter, its roots will not be able to reach all the soil as one that is planted in the center of the soil.  In other words, Tyler would not have been able to "catch up", as it was a developmental difference.  Had we not had the c-seciton, he would probably have died or had brain damage.  To Andy & I this was all the confirmation we needed that we made the right choice!

That night, although all kids started off on cpap machines, Tanner was having a harder time breathing and went on a ventilator.  He also developed fluid around his heart in the night which they drained but it was our first of (probably hundreds to come) NICU roller-coaster rides.  One thing we have been told & are learning: having children in the NICU is often like taking 2 steps forward, 3 steps back.  Our babies are in a neonatal intensive care setting for a reason:  they are very tiny and sick! 

But prayers have been wonderful.  Later on yesterday Tanner was doing better again, and went back on cpap.  Praise Jesus!  However, now today & tonight he continues to demonstrate little respiratory and distressed symptoms again.  It will be an up & down battle for all.
Tyler, our smallest, is actually doing fairly well and is getting more oxygen than he probably has been for a while.  While teeny, he is a fighter.  He receives light therapy often for liver development and is starting to be fed milk along with all the others.  Hannah, our biggest, is also doing fairly well.  She is a feisty, verbal girl.  I actually have been able to "kangaroo hold" her twice so far, skin to skin, and it has been awesome.

Lauren was showing resparatory distress last night and went on a ventillator, and she is still on one now.  She is doing fairly well with this.  She developed some air around her lungs last night too and while they have taken care of the problem, she is very tired today from all the hard tolls on her body.

And now I just got a call from the doctor an hour ago saying that the babies were accidentally exposed to a person who developed the Shingles Virus, which is like Chicken Pox.  While very uncommon for babies to develop this, both Tanner and Hannah are showing marks that could be it.  Thus, all babies are now in isolation and are taking an anti-viral medication as a prevenative step in case they have indeed been exposed.  This means that whenever Andy or I go to see them for the next 10 days or so, we will need to gown up, wear masks & gloves, and change the gown/gloves/masks for each baby to discourage cross-contamination.  Any additional visitors at this point are not allowed until further notice.  See what I mean?  It's a NICU roller coaster!!!

I am going to go and check on the babies-- doubtful I will touch any of them tonight :-(  !  But this too seems to be part of Our Multiples Journey.  One thing I just need to say is a huge THANK YOU to everyone for the hundreds of prayers and well-wishes.  Andy and I have truly been riding on the wings of prayers and KNOW that God is in control and He knows what He is doing.  Nothing shocks or surprises Him, and He has a PLAN!  We take great comfort in that and are so humbled by all the messages we have received and prayers and people asking others to pray for us who we don't even know!  A million gracious thank you's to you all!!!  We feel so rich with support, and it is helping our attitudes immensely.  I know for myself I have a supernatural peace and calm that is indeed nothing of my own strength.  It is God giving me what I need when I need it, and it is truly a faith-building and humbling experience as I get to rely on my God and Savior in this way.

I will end with some pics I took earlier on when I was visiting the babies, including my chance to cuddle my sweet little Hannah!  Oh, and I can't forget-- yesterday was our sweet little Jenna's 4th birthday!!!  To celebrate, we went to a NICU siblings pizza party last night and she had a blast with mommy, daddy & other kids!  Happy 4th birthday to the best daughter and big sister ever!!!

Thank you all so much...  Thank you for the continued prayers. 
Tired but Big Hugs!

Big 4-year-old Sister Jenna pretending to be a doctor!

Sweet Little Lauren Faith with her eyes open!
Our feisty and lovable Hannah

Saying Hello to my little man Tyler, who is geting some light therapy!

Our sweet, sweet Tanner.  Had a VERY rough first night and thought we had lost you... Praise Jesus He has other plans for you, sweet boy.  

Cuddling earlier today with my sweet Hannah Grace!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Babies are a'comin!

Taken today, the day before delivery

Well, God has a different timing than I do.  As often He does...

We had our doppler u/s this morning at the doctor.  First, I need to say that we have truly been SO BLESSED by all the prayers and kind words and supports we have out there.  We certainly are riding on those prayers right now, and we feel OK with the uncertainty of everything.  I was hoping Tyler's blood flow pattern would resolve itself, but this morning when we went in it looks to be getting worse.  He does still have a good heartbeat and the fluid levels are still good, but the doctor told us this pattern is not good and 50% of the time it does result in death within a few days.

Since we are past 28 weeks and viability is really good (around 98%) for the babies, he gave us some options.  However, after consulting with him, each other, and a neonatologist (the NICU doctor), both Andy and I were in solid agreement that it will be best to have the c-section tomorrow and give all of them the supports they need (we prayed that we would be wise and have a solid agreement whatever we found, so answered prayer for that!).   I feel good that I did everything right I possibly could have, but I still wish I could have safely carried them longer!  Again, not my plans, but His...

So tomorrow, on 7-17-12, at 1:30 pm, we will have the c-section welcomeing our quadruplets into the world.  I have been so use to them bumping inside my tummy that I know I will miss that, but OH, I can't wait to see them!   We just pray that all babies will be OK and will be able to breathe on their own with as little support as needed.  Today I got my second administration of a steroid shot, which helps in their lung development.  This is not what we would have chosen, but then again, everything about this Journey has been unexpected and yet full of wonderful blessings amongst a myriad of emotions.

The emotional roller coaster will continue, I'm sure...  I will do my best to keep this updated, but please pray that the c-section tomorrow will go well and that all babies will be strong fighters and will thrive.  Wow.  I am still a little in shock that tomorrow is the day.  Ready or not, here they come!!!

On a good note, we had a birthday party yesterday for our beautiful daughter.  I can't believe she is 4.  In hindsight, I am so glad she could be surrounded by family that loves her and she could have a day where it was all about her!  The funny thing is that Jenna's birthday is July 18, so now we will always have a crazy summer birthday week! 

I will close with some pics of our big girl's day yesterday.  Probably her last birthday ever where it will be all about her!!!  LOL!


Jenna and some of the family
Singing Happy Birthday to Jenna

Feeling the babies bumping around in there

Jenna & her daddy

I can't believe she is a big 4-year-old already!

Some of the goods from the BD party

My sister & sister-in-law with me.  And the belly.

Jenna with Grandpa & Grandma

The family-- soon to be added to!