Saturday, December 15, 2012

First solids!

The babies' will be 8 months old (8 months?!?) next week, and are a little over 5 months adjusted. We were aiming to start solids around 6 months adjusted, but we decided to go ahead and start yesterday. They have really been showing us that they are ready the past month or so by sitting up, watching intently and smacking their little mouths while we eat, grabbing our food (Corbin's first food came very close to being a chocolate cupcake), etc. While thawing out some breast milk a couple of weeks ago, I got curious and gave them all a spoonful of slushy milk to see how they would do. Their tongue thrust reflexes were completely gone and they did really well, so I knew we would be starting soon.

First time in their table!
Our quad table came in, which was a Christmas gift from Larry's Mom and Santa.... but we really wanted to get it set up. The day after we did, I decided to give solids a whirl, and was really nervous. I know that babies' that had been tube fed for a while could have issues with eating solids, and ours were tube fed for quite a while. Thankfully, it is looking like I may not have to worry, because they did GREAT! We originally wanted to start with sweet potatoes, but we had an avocado on hand, and they are also a great first food. I just mashed it up with a fork really well and stirred in some breast milk to thin it a bit. In a perfect world, I would use four bowls and four spoons, or even four spoons and one bowl... but we live in quad world, so one bowl and one spoon is looking like the route we are taking.

Yum yum yum
We just stuck them in their table, buckled them in, and away we went! We got lots of hilarious faces, but overall they did so much better than I expected. They chewed it around and swallowed it down. Allie kept making the most awful faces but kept screaming at me until I gave her more. I think Abby was the least thrilled with it, she did great eating it but I do not think she liked the flavor too well. The boy's both did really well, too. I gave everyone some more avocado tonight and even made it a little more textured, and they devoured the entire bowl and screamed for more. Or everyone but Abby, that is. She still was not a big fan of the taste but still ate quite a bit. Hopefully she will like it better when we move on to sweet potatoes in a couple of days.

Ella helping out
Happy babies'!
These videos aren't the best because I was videoing with my phone while feeding them, and you can hear Larry taking an insane amount of photos, but it's all I have! These are of their very first bites.

And that's about it! Christmas post and FAQ post hopefully coming up soon!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How time has flown!

Abby, Allie, Ella, Corbin, and Carson
It's been a couple of months and SO much has changed around this house! Things have gotten tremendously easier in most ways, and a tad harder in others. It's gotten a little trickier because they changed Larry's schedule at work, he now works both days and nights, and it took the babies' (and Mom!) a bit to adjust to that.

We have made some big changes since my last update 2.5 months ago:

- Sleeping through the night 12 hours. They have been doing this for about 2 months or so and it is heavenly!

-Dropping to four feedings a day. I can not begin to explain how much easier our life has gotten because of this! I have always been very hesitant to drop feedings. Ella at this stage was still nursing 7+ times a day, but the babies' were not eating well because they were not hungry that often, so they have done so much better with the four feedings a day.

- Putting each baby in their own crib. We did this about 2 months ago, since the babies' learned to roll back to belly, they kept rolling onto each other and waking each other up.They like to snuggle so I thought they may sleep worse, but they did so much better.

- Switching from Swaddle Me wraps to Halo sleep sacks. I was VERY scared of this transition, I had heard a lot of horror stories about making the transition from swaddling. Ella always hated to be swaddled, so this was new to me. The first night everyone but Abby woke a couple of times, but after that first night they went back to sleeping well.

- Saying bye bye to the paci. Ella had a paci until two days before she turned TWO, and it was hell getting it from her... and I did not want a repeat of that. I learned with her the older they are, the more dependent they become on it, so we decided to go ahead and get rid of the paci while they still weren't a huge deal to the babies'.

- Napping at the same time. This one took me FOREVER to get them to do. This has just happened over the past month or so. Some babies' sleep longer than others, and it's not always the same babies', but I usually get at least one hour of them all asleep at one time.

- Switching formulas. The babies' receive one bottle of formula a day, and we had gotten the okay to switch from Neosure to a regular formula. We switched to Enfamil infant powder since Enfamil will be sending us 16 cases of formula, which should get us past their first birthday since we do not use that much of it.We slowly transitioned them to the new formula so it would not upset their tummies, and they did great!

There has also been huge changes in the babies' development. Everyone started giving us big ole' belly laughs a couple months ago, and this has been my favorite! They love to laugh at each other and talk to each other which is soooo cute! They have become a lot more mobile as well. It's always a shock the first time you put your baby on the floor and walk away to do something, and then come back and they are no where to be seen! Lot's of shrieks, happy screams, squeals, and talking going on as well.  All of the babies' are wearing size 6 month clothes and size 2 diapers, but the boys will be moving to size 3 diapers when they are shipped this week (the 2's are getting pretty snug), and it wont be long before the boys' are in 9 month clothes.Their weight gain has slowed a tad since they have become more mobile, but they are still growing great.

Individual updates:

Ella has been doing great. She still just goes along with the flow and is not really jealous at all. She had her 3 year check up recently, and she is 30 pounds (30th percentile) and 36.5 inches (23rd percentile). She is a tiny tot but very healthy and smart! She is totally into her "doctor phase" right now and is constantly giving everyone checkups and telling them what their "dianosis" (diagnosis) is. She was quick to tell the doctor that she needed medication for her stuffanemia, ha. She keeps me amazed with how smart she is and with her wild imagination. I feel bad that she is stuck in the house most of the time, I can not wait until RSV season is over and we can get out and about! She is such a good little Mommy to her two baby dolls, and the dolls have to do everything our real babies' do.

This picture CRACKS me up, crazy girl feeding her babies'.
Abby is hilarious. She has the most infectious laugh and has really developed quite the personality. She has also become the master at convincing us she is drinking her bottle when she really isn't... she moves her mouth, makes the sucking noises, and really looks like she is drinking. She will do this for 30 minutes and will have only had an ounce to drink. Since going to four bottles a day her appetite has improved drastically. She did go through a spell again recently where she would not eat, but it only lasted a few days thank goodness. At her 6 month appointment, she was 3.66% for weight (up from 2.32% at 4 months) and 0.85% for height (up from 0.02% at 4 months). This is on the chart for actual age, not adjusted, so we were happy that she is slowly climbing the chart. She now weighs 14 pounds 6 ounces at 7 months.

Allie reminds me so much of Ella it is crazy. Even the way she acts and laughs reminds me of her. Her eyes have turned hazel like Ella's while the rest of the babies' eyes remain blue. Her blood pressure has been good, we go for a follow up in a week. She is very strong and active, Larry thinks she will be the first to crawl. She eats so well and is usually first to finish her bottle, but she remains the smallest and is so tiny! She was 2.19% for weight (up from 0.32% at 4 months) and 4.7% for height (up from 0.71%) at her 6 month appointment. She now weighs 14 pounds 5 ounces at 7 months.

Corbin is still my flirty boy. He loves most people but boy does he love his Momma! He is so funny and has a great little personality. He is the most mobile and I think he will be the first to crawl. He always gets himself into tiny spaces or ends up weird places, so i have to really keep my eyes on him while they are on the floor. He has to see a urologist for a hydrocele and possible hernia, but that was the only issue at his 6 month appointment. He was 3.26% for weight (up from 0.9% at 4 months) and 0.95% for height (up from 0%) at his 6 month appointment. He now weighs 15 pounds 9 ounces at 7 months.

Carson, oh my Carson. He has decided to beat the other babies' down in the weight department. He now almost has a pound lead on Corbin, and is becoming quite the chunk! He eats SO well despite his reflux. The OT said we are working her out of a job because the only reason she is seeing him and Abby are because of eating issues... And he has none. She wants to make sure that he has no problems with solids when we start them, but I have a feeling that he will do really well with them. He is a little behind the other 3 babies' in development, but he is still ahead of his adjusted age on most things, so I try not to worry too much. His hair is insane and I don't know what to do with it, so he now gets a comb over, ha. He has also FINALLY quit screaming bloody murder during his baths, which makes bath time much more enjoyable for everyone involved! He has to see a doctor to evaluate his head shape, but we are praying he will not need a helmet for this. He was 4.16% for weight (up from 0.22% at 4 months) and 1.95% for height (up from 0%) at his 6 month appointment. He now weighs 16 pounds 8 ounces at 7 months.

I have also cut down to pumping 3 times a day the past couple of weeks. I knew I would probably take a small hit to my milk supply, but I really needed to drop down for sanity reasons. The babies' are awake much more and demand a lot of attention now, and it's really hard to sit down and pump for 1-1.5 hours when they are awake. So now I wake up and pump for 1.5 hours before they wake up, pump an hour during their nap, and pump for 1.5 hours after they go to bed. This has worked out so great and I feel like I have so much more freedom now! It's also nice not to have to drag the pump every single place I go, I can actually get out for 5 hours if I need to without bringing the pump along. I did lose a little of my supply, about 10 ounces, but I am okay and content with this. We have a little over 2,000 ounces left in the deep freeze, so I am hoping we can at least get to one year between the pumping and the milk in the freezer.

We are getting excited for Christmas, we still have not put up our tree but will be doing that this week. Our Elf on the Shelf is also on her way to us... the thing is kind of creepy but I think Ella will have so much fun with it! Ella has picked out her name, and it will be "Melinda". Christmas has always been my favorite holiday but having kids to share Christmas with makes it even more amazing, especially once they can really understand it.

I've been working on this post a couple of weeks, so I am going to stop here so it isn't a mile long! I think I am FINALLY going to try and finish my FAQ post, so if you have any questions for me just leave a comment and let me know!

P.S. If everyone who reads this could please say a prayer (if you pray) for my brother in law Chuck, it would be SO appreciated. He is not doing well at all and his liver and kidneys are failing. Our God is an awesome one, and we are praying for one of His miracles! THANK YOU! XOXO

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fat to Fit: Week 1

Weight has always been a struggle of mine. I have never been a naturally thin person, and I have ranged from "lose another pound and you look like a skeleton" to where I am at now. I have to bust my butt by hardcore exercise and a pretty strict diet to lose weight, and have to continue to workout or I will gain it back. Pregnancy obviously jacks up my weight, and for some reason breastfeeding brings it up even more. I was never the lucky one who lost weight by nursing, I steadily gained weight until I weaned Ella at a year old, and it looks like I am following the same trend this go round. I have hypothyroidism, and it has to be managed just right for me to lose the weight. I have a follow up check in a couple of weeks, and I think it may be off a bit, but not by much because I don't feel like complete death. But I'm not going to wait, I am completely over being overweight. It's not only about being thin and looking better, but I want to FEEL better. I have 5 kids to keep up with, and it's also important to me to set the right kind of example for my children.

So what's my plan? To start off, I am going to do Couch to 5K. I completed my first night tonight, and let's just say I'm pretty out of shape! I was pretty fit before I got pregnant with the quads, so this is a big difference for me. But, I have to start somewhere, and Couch to 5K seems simple enough! I also plan on starting back Weight Watchers next week, I have had really great success with it before. I tried to start back a couple of weeks ago, but I did not have the right foods in the house and I was STARVING. Nursing 4 babies is no joke when it comes to the hunger department, I am burning roughly 1,500 calories a day just by making milk, so of course that has to go back in with food. I am going to do a big shopping trip this weekend and get everything I need!

My overall goal is to lose 50 pounds. This is going to take quite a while, especially if I can keep up with breastfeeding a while longer. I do not want to lose my milk supply, so the goal is 1-1.5 pounds a week after the first two weeks. Also, I am signing up for Warrior Dash, it is on March 16th, and it's a 5K run/obstacle course. I think I can get in shape in 6 months, even if I can't meet my weight loss goal by then!

I will be taking "before" photos and measurements tomorrow so I can follow my progress closely. I need to blog about this so I can be held accountable. If I put it out there, I have to do it, right?! Here I go!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A very late 4 month update!

Better late than never, right? We all know that I have never been great at updating this blog, and there are four new reasons why I have even less time now! The babies have been home for a little over 6 weeks now, and it's going very well, we are still over the moon to have our babies home with us! They are 4.5 months old and right at 2 months adjusted age now. I have been working on this blog post for several weeks now, and I tried to change around all the current dates/weeks/ages, but I could have missed something.

Our schedule has majorly changed over these past six weeks. I have found that letting the babies guide us into their own schedule has really worked for us. At first things went a little nutty with our schedule, but now it's back to what it was in the NICU basically, except the babies are now sleeping through the night from 9pm-6am. They eat every 3 hours during the day. If someone gets hungry in between feedings, I will nurse them, or if everyone is hungry earlier than "scheduled", I feed everyone. But they usually always want to eat every 3 hours on the dot which amazes me... Ella would have NEVER went 3 hours between eating when she was small, but I guess that is all the babies have ever known from being in the NICU, so they are used to it! The babies are eating between 3-5 oz a feeding. They all end up eating roughly the same amount thoughout the day, around 25 ounces, give or take a couple.

Individual updates:

Ella is doing great still. She still has her moments of frustration when we can't drop everything and do what she wants, but for the most part, she loves her babies and is happy they are here with us! She has started gymnastics one day a week and is LOVING it! This is really special to me because I was in gymnastics and competitive cheer growing up, and it was a huge part of my life. So I wouldn't be disappointed one bit if it turns into something she decides to stick with! It's so cute watching all the tiny toddlers in their little leotards! She loves all parts of gymnastics, but the bars were her favorite! Her BFF/cousin Mia is in the class with her which makes it all the more fun. :)
Right before her first gymnastics class

Ella and Abby right after Abby came home
Abby is doing great! She's still a chunk and is growing well. She's such a sweet, calm baby most of the time, but if she's mad she will be sure to let you know! She started smiling the day after my last update, and she has been letting out some adorable coos these days. She was the last to be able to push up on her arms while holding her head up high during tummy time, but was the second to roll over from belly to back. She doesn't cry often, but when she does, her little eyes fill up with a ton of baby tears, and it's a little heartbreaking!

Allie is doing great, too. We had a scare a bit ago, her follow up lab work a week after discharge indicated a high potassium level. We did a redraw the next day and got even higher numbers, so we were sent to Texas Children's. High potassium is a possible problem with her blood pressure medication, and it can be very bad for the heart and body if it stays high too long. We thought we were going to be admitted for observation and to figure out what exactly was going on, but the potassium level came back normal at Texas Children's. Apparently it was a problem with how they were taking her blood at the lab place we had taken her to. All future lab draws will happen at Texas Children's for sure! She also started smiling the day after my last update, and she hasn't stopped since! She just grins all the time, she reminds me so much of Ella as a baby in looks and personality. She is growing enough but on the smaller side, she is very petite like Ella was/ is! She enjoys tummy time and is the queen of rolling over. We had her first follow up renal appointment, and the doctor said they believe her high blood pressure is because of her immature preemie lungs, and that they expect her to grow out of it within a year, whoop! Such a relief!

Ella around 3 months on the left and Allie now on the right. I think they look a lot alike!

Corbin is doing great, too! He is growing great and is the fatty of the bunch! He is also easily impressed and smiles all the time, and started smiling the same day as Allie and Abby. He is the biggest FLIRT, he just stares, grins, and coos at you waiting for you to talk to him. He was the first to roll over about 5 weeks ago, but we think its because he came home first and had more of an oppourtunity. His brain scan that I was so worried about was completely NORMAL, proving once again how amazing our God is!

Carson is doing great and growing well. He actually just passed up Abby in weight and is now the second largest baby. He's our little charmer and he seems to be doing a ton better fussiness wise. He really likes his swing and dislikes tummy time unless he is asleep. He pushes up on his arms and holds his head up high during tummy time, but he is the only one not rolling over yet. He was the first to smile and coo though, so he says its all good! He is in love with the giraffee on his bouncy seat and talks to it constantly when he is in his seat. We call him the drama QUEEN of the bunch, he is defintely our most high maintinance baby, and will give the most pitiful lip pout you have ever seen.

ECI came out and evaluated Corbin a couple of weeks after he came home. He was zero months adjusted age, so of course they didn't expect him to do anything, but he was well ahead of the game in all areas, so he did not qualify for any services. The other three babies were evaluated the week before last. They also were all ahead of the game in development for adjusted age, they were measured on a one month adjusted age. Of course the babies are behind in development for their actual age (4.5 months old), but that's to be expected since they were born nearly 3 months early. They should catch up to their peers within 2 years. They did qualify Carson for Occupational Therapy (OT), but not because there is any big issues, it's just because he has reflux, and the OT said when babies have reflux they can develop sensory eating problems later in life when starting solid foods. She said she wanted to watch him to be better safe than sorry. Abby also qualified for OT at my request, she is really difficult to get to eat sometimes, so I am hoping the OT can help with that. But since qualifying her, her eating has gotten much better, and the OT hasn't had a chance to come out yet, so I am not sure if they will even keep her on.

Larry started back to work about a month ago, but only working a few days a week. Next week will be his first week back full time. We still have help from a few amazing family members a couple days a week, so I have only been on my own with all the kiddos for a full day a couple days a week. It goes really well with the exception of a few feeding times. Sometimes the babies eat great, and sometimes they don't. It can get extremely frustrating when they are all screaming hungry but are being difficult to feed. I've had a few crazy "I can't do this" freak out moments during those times because it's that frustrating. I can't wait until the day that they all eat well to say the least! But I did switch to level 2 nipples and that has cut out a ton of our feeding issues, I kicked myself in the butt for not doing it sooner! All babies are nursing now and we are VERY SLOWLY transitioning to breastfeeding. I do not want to completely overwhelm myself, so it's definitely a process. I am just now getting over another bout of mastitis, and unfortunately my milk supply took a small hit, but I'm busting my butt trying to get it back.

Corbin and Allie snuggling shortly after the girls coming home
The babies 4 month check up went well. No real issues, we are a little worried about Abby's head being flat in the back. She was on her back the most in the NICU and was the weakest baby because of her lungs, so I guess that is why hers is kind of flat. But the doctor said at this point not to worry, but if it hasn't gotten any better at our 6 month check up, we will probably need to have a consult for a helmet. But the babies were doing great and growing well.
Carson, Abby, Allie, and Corbin at their 4 month check up
Since they are well over 4 months old now (um, okay, almost 5 months old), I will give their current weights instead of their 4 months weights-

Abby is 11 pounds 7 ounces
Allie is 10 pounds 8 ounces
Corbin is 12 pounds 2 ounces
Carson is 11 pounds 8 ounces

I do not think they were on the growth charts for actual age at their 4 month appointment, but I am hoping a couple of them are by their 6 month appointment.

Overall things are going well, but its still a learning process. I have a hard times sometimes because somedays I would just love to get on the floor and play all day with my kids, but the laundry is always overflowing and the amount of bottles and pump parts that need to be washed every day is insane. It's hard knowing what it is like just having one baby at a time, all the cuddles and play time and individual attention... you just don't get a ton of that with high order multiples, and I really miss it. But I am slowly adjusting to our new normal and trying to figure out who this new Mom is. I refuse to give up several parenting aspects that have always been really important to me, even if it makes things "harder" on me, but I have defintely had to learn to let some things go and learn new ways to do things.

I am trying to think of some clever way to end this... but I'm a crappy writer and it's just not happening. And if I keep trying this post will never get published... so... goodnight!  ;)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Finally a full house!

All of our babies are finally HOME! Carson came home last Monday, and the girls' came home last Friday!

Carson unhooking from all the monitors at the NICU!
Ready to rock and roll!
Sweet Abby gettin' ready to hit the road!
Allie girl looks less than impressed!
Ella and Mommy playing around, about to get the girls' ready to go!
Let's go!
Ella playing with Jan, our fabulous social worker!
One baby at home was an absolute breeze, two babies got a little trickier because Carson cried pretty much all day long, but it was still not bad at all. Four babies has been easier than expected, but still pretty exhausting. The other night Allie puked all over Carson, and in Larry's sleep deprived state, he dressed Carson in one of the girls' onesies, ha. And I may or may not have fallen asleep on the toilet after peeing the night before last.
Carson in his sisters onesie

Corbin enjoying being the only baby at home!
All together again!
But so far so good, it is going better than we had expected. Thankfully, we have amazing family, and someone has been here almost every day for about 8 hours during the day to help us out. Everyone has also been bringing a lot of meals, so that is helping us out a TON, I'm not sure we would eat otherwise! And most of all, it is so great to have a husband who is supportive and doesn't mind jumping in and taking care of whatever needs to be taken care of. He does just as much as I do while he is off of work for the next few weeks, and that has been more help than anything else! Another HUGE help has been the other quad moms before me and the quad moms who are going through this with me. Throughout my pregnancy I got to read about things that worked and things that didn't, the best way to do certain things, etc. While every family is different and what works for one might not work for another, I still received tons of amazing advice. Without it, we would probably be drowning right about now. Sometimes it does get quite overwhelming, particularly when there are 4 screaming babies at one time, or when they are being a pain in the butt to feed, but thankfully that doesn't happen all the time!

Individual updates-

Ella is doing amazing! She does have an occasional moment of jealously (what 3 year old wouldn't?!), but for the most part she does great! She is such a sweet big sister and is Mommy's little helper! We also celebrated her 3rd birthday on the 9th of July, I can't believe my baby is 3! She also decided she wanted to potty train the day of her birthday party which has been completely awesome to say the least! 

Birthday girl!
Minnie Mouse party at the park!
Zoe, Ella , and Mia. Two of her BFF"s!
Mommy's big helper!
Abby is doing great! We thought she would come home on oxygen and a feeding tube, but she surprised us all and caught up to her sister and brother super quick! We are so thankful she is healthy, and she doesn't have to deal with the yucky oxygen anymore. Plus it makes it a lot easier at home not to have to worry about that!

Allie is doing great as well. She developed high blood pressure there towards the end of her NICU stay, so it was a blessing in disguise that she was not a quick learner eating, because she may have been discharged before it was caught. We aren't exactly sure the cause, but they believe it is her kidneys. Her kidney ultrasound was normal, but they sent off labs to see if we could figure out what is going on. We now monitor her blood pressure 3 times a day, and she also gets blood pressure medication after her blood pressure is checked.

Corbin is doing great as well. We have a follow up head ultrasound on the 9th of this month. Although his brain bleed resolved, there was a small concerning spot on his brain, and we are not sure if it is anything or not. I'm a little worried about it, but I'm praying that the ultrasound comes back normal!

Carson is doing good, too. He has awful reflux, but thankfully at his first pediatrician appointment we were able to get him on reflux medication which has helped a TON! He's still a fussy baby but it's so much better now. He has started his true social smiling, and it's so dang cute!

We are so happy to finally have our family under one roof, and in some ways it's much easier than being torn between home and the NICU. Sometimes I just stare at them and I still can not believe they are all home, and that they are all mine. I can't believe we got pregnant with quads, made it through a quad pregnancy, and made it through the NICU stage. And most of all, I can not believe that we defied the odds and came out at the end with 4 seemingly healthy babies! God truly is so good, and we are so thankful for all of our blessings! Having 5 children, 4 of them being quadruplets, is everything I never knew I wanted. Some people seem to pity me, but I will take full hands over empty ones ANY day!! We are so happy that He chose us to take this crazy, beautiful, insane, and wonderful ride... Let the fun begin!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July... And Corbin is home!

Today was a big day! We spent the afternoon at the NICU for 4th of July, and then Corbin got to come home!! I could not believe he was coming home, and did not believe it until we got into the car with him!

In birth order: Abby, Allie, Corbin, and Carson

Ella refused pictures, and this was the only way to get her in.  :)
 Corbin has been our little rockstar baby the past month. As soon as he got his first bottle, he downed it like he had been drinking bottles forever, and he never stopped. He was up to full bottles (no tube feedings) within 4 days. He pooped out after that for a few days and had to have his tube put back in, but it came back out a few days later. He is even starting to nurse like a champ, he likes his milk in any form! He had his first formal developmental assessment yesterday and they said he look great, and do not recommend any type of therapy at this time. He (and the other 3 babies) will be followed by Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) when they are home, to continue to be assessed for any types of delays, and therapy will be provided if needed (occupational therapy, physical therapy, ect.).
Corbin getting ready to come home!

I had made a mistake in the last post saying all had PDA's. Abby did not have one, but the other three DID... but they have all closed on their own!! So happy about that, because they ended up causing a lot of problems when they were about 1 month old. They had to go back on CPAP's after they were taken off because it was causing respiratory issues from fluid in their lungs. They were on diuretics and fluid restrictions for a while because of it. But all that is gone now thank goodness, although I know it added a bit to our NICU stay, especially for Corbin. Even though he has been doing everything he needed to do for weeks to come home, they had to gradually increase his volume of feeds and decrease the fortifier (extra calories/nutrition) in the breast milk, and they sure took their time doing it! They also have to have 2 bottles of preemie formula (with high calories/nutrition) in addition to the breast milk, so they had to make sure he gained well on that milk combo before sending him home.

Abby is our chunky money! It's amazing how she went from the smallest to the biggest. She is doing great, a little lazy with eating but she is getting much better. She gets 4 of her feedings by bottle and the other 4 by feeding tube. She doesn't always finish her bottles, she tires out very easily. She hasn't quite learned to nurse yet, but she is getting there and getting better. She is unfortunately still on oxygen, and there is a high possibility of her coming home on it. There was also talk today of her coming home with a feeding tube in her belly if she doesn't learn to eat within a month or so. I am a little disappointed, but all things considered, it could be much worse. I thank the Lord for calling me to the nursing profession, because I feel very equipped to handle it. I am nervous, but I know she will only be on the oxygen (and possible feeding tube) a couple of months probably, so it is very short term.

Chubby Abby at 10.5 weeks
Allie is doing great as well. She is our smallest but is getting big, too. She is a little bit of a lazy eater as well, she gets 6 bottles a day and 2 tube feedings, and she finishes about half of her bottles and almost finishes the rest. She is not on any oxygen thankfully, and doesn't have anything going on other than learning to eat. She has NO interest in nursing, but she will get there eventually I am sure! Although Allie's PDA closed, she also had a hole in her heart called a PFO that did not close. She had a couple of whacky blood pressures, so they are closely monitoring her blood pressure for 48 hours just to make sure it was a fluke and not the PFO causing issues.

Allie girl at 10 weeks

Carson is also doing well. He has always been our "fragile" baby, but he caught up quick! No more oxygen, but he is also a lazy eater. He gets 4 bottle attempts a day, and finishes one or two of them. I don't know where all of these lazy eaters come from, but I wish they would get with the program, because I am ready for these babies to be HOME! I'm sure the light bulb will go off eventually!

Carson at 9 weeks
Current weights:

Abby- 7 pounds 5 ounces (up 4 pounds 15 ounces from birth weight!)
Allie- 6 pounds 11 ounces (up 3 pounds 14 ounces from birth weight)
Corbin- 7 pounds 5 ounces (up 4 pounds 8 ounces from birth weight)
Carson- 7 pounds 3 ounces (up 4 pounds 8 ounces from birth weight)

Ella has been such a great big sister. She has always asked to hold the babies, and once I felt they were big and strong enough, she finally got to! She has held them all and loves it, although now she usually says they are too heavy to hold, ha. She loves holding their bottles, kissing them, and loving all on them. She has done great so far with Corbin coming home, she is such a little mommy!
Ella holding Abby for the first time!
Ella and Carson, the first baby she held.
First family photo- Babies are 8 weeks old

We are so excited that our babies are starting to come home! We are looking forward to ending the NICU journey and starting our new journey at home. Thanks again to everyone who has supported us and prayed for us! I know I say it all the time, but we are so extremely blessed!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

3 week update!

The babies are all doing great! No big changes lately, Abby came off of her PICC line the day the boys did, which surprised us since we thought it would be a few days later. The plan is to try and get all babies off of their CPAPs this coming week. The doc says its not unusual for them to need to go back on them, but they want to see if they can go without it. I think Allie and Corbin may do okay without it, but I'm not sure about Abby and Carson, they are a little behind the other 2 in the breathing department. I can't wait to fully see their beautiful little faces! The babies all have heart murmurs, but the murmurs are not effecting anything else, so they are leaving them be. The doc says they are sounding better and will probably resolve on their own.

The babies are getting bigger and packing on the pounds (well, ounces) slowly but surely! Here are their 3 week weights:

Abby-3 pounds 2 ounces (up 12 ounces from birth weight)
Allie- 3 pounds 7 ounces (up 10 ounces from birth weight)
Corbin- 3 pounds 14 ounces (up 1 pound 1 ounce from birth weight)
Carson- 3 pounds 10 ounces (up 15 ounces from birth weight)

To me they look so different and they look chubbier to me, but I know to everyone else they still look like tiny, skinny little things! I will get some new pictures up with the next post.

We asked the doctor a few days ago what to expect as far as when we might know if the babies will have any long term disabilities. He told us that with the way our babies are doing and how they are acting, that we should have a very low concern for any long term major issues. I instantly cried upon hearing that, those are definitely some of the best words I have ever heard in my entire life! We of course know that there is still a chance of long term problems just because they were so premature, but just to hear him give us that hope was amazing!!

Larry has started putting together the babies cribs and other furniture. He just had to start doing it, because if it were up to me, I probably would have waited until the day before one was coming home. It's been a hard thing for me to transition from being so scared that I would not come home with 4 babies, to probably coming home with 4 babies! I'm still a little nervous about it all, but I need to get over it and just get everything ready for my sweet little ones, because they will be home before we know it! Ella has been a big girl giving up her bedroom to the baby girls (I wanted both nurseries to be side by side for convenience), and she is moving down the hall to the bedroom by the playroom. She is excited to get a new big girl room, now to figure out how we are going to decorate it for her!

So it's looking like we may just have feeders/growers on our hands, thank you LORD for that! Some days I just can not believe how incredibly blessed and lucky we are. Our story could be SO vastly different, and why God chose us to have all 5 of our beautiful children I will probably never know, but I am so thankful that He did. I never thought I wanted more than 2 or 3 children, but now, I can't imagine our life any other way. It will get crazy around here, but I can't wait!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cue the mommy guilt

I think it's seriously going to eat me alive. I was okay the first week or so, even though it was so hard to see my tiny babies fighting for their lives, I was also just so relieved and thankful that they were doing better than I had expected. Once everything calmed down a bit, it just started hitting me. If I could have just carried them a couple weeks longer. Or a week. Or just anything more. Or maybe if I would have done something different, maybe I could have stayed pregnant longer. If I would have asked for more help with Ella in the beginning, maybe my cervix wouldn't have shortened so quickly. There are just a million and one scenarios that go through my head on a regular basis. Throughout my pregnancy I prepared myself for the worse case scenarios but hoped and prayed for the best. I am glad that I did that, because now that things are better than what I expected, I really do believe that it is easier for me to deal with. But that still doesn't make it easy to see my babies the way that they are. I am angry at my body. I am angry that I couldn't get pregnant, and then even worse, I couldn't carry them longer. LOGICALLY, I know I did what I could, but emotionally it just doesn't matter. These are our babies, and I just want them to be okay. I don't think I will ever be able to forgive myself if they are not. They are doing so good but I am just so scared something is going to sneak up on us out of no where. Okay, I am done venting now... it feels good to just let that out, hopefully I will find a way to manage all of it soon before I end up in a mental institution. ;) Onto some better and more positive news....

Like I mentioned above, the babies are doing so well! They have all gained back to their birth weight and past it. They are all having the typical preemie A's & B's (apnea which is when they stop breathing, and bradycardia which is where their heart rates drop really low), but they are starting to recover from them themselves instead of having to be stimulated, which is a good thing!

Abby is going backwards a bit here lately, but as I have been told, this whole NICU thing is a one step forward two steps back deal. Her CPAP settings had to be bumped from a 6 to an 8 (the smaller the number the better, 5 is as low as they set it), and she had to go up a bit on her oxygen and is at about 25% (21% is room air). She was having a little more trouble with her feeds, her residuals (milk left in her belly after a feed) were almost the whole feeds, so they changed her feeds from every 3 hours to 6. She did better with that, so now they are trying her on every 4 hours. Fingers crossed that she does well with that so she can go back to every 3. Our big thing right now is getting them to full feeds for their weights so that their PICC lines can come out. We want the PICC lines out to lower their risk of infection, and also for the obvious reason of there being one less tube/wire/line to mess with and worry about! Her head ultrasound came back clean for brain bleeds which is awesome! Even though she is lagging behind her brothers and sister, she is a feisty little thing and she is going to be the BOSS out of the bunch!

Allie is doing great! She is doing the best out of all of our babies. She is the only one who didn't need intubated for a dose of surfactant in the beginning. Her CPAP is on a 6 and she is on room air. She is up to full feeds which I believe are 23cc every 3 hours, they base them off of their weight. Her lipids, TPN, and PICC line (IV) got to be discontinued yesterday, and that makes us really happy! Her head ultrasound also came back clean for any brain bleeds, woohoo! She is also super feisty like her sister (both of them!), it is amazing the cries they can put out being so tiny!!

Corbin is doing great as well, he is our little chunker (well, in his own little preemie way!) and yesterday was up to 3 pounds 3 ounces! His CPAP is also on a 6 and he is on room air mostly but occasionally requires a bump up to 22-23% oxygen. He also got to have his lipids, TPN, and PICC line discontinued today, which means he is up to full feeds as well! His head ultrasound did show a grade 1 brain bleed, but this is the least severe bleed, and as long as it doesn't get worse we should be in good shape. They will do a follow up ultrasound in a few weeks. He is more laid back than the other babies, and he cries the least. I think he is going to be a lot like Larry, just chill and won't let much bother him. He loves to lay all stretched out, he is happy to have some room finally!

Carson is also doing well. CPAP setting of 6 and he is on about 23% oxygen. He also is up to full feeds and got to get his lipids and TPN discontinued as well as his PICC line today. He also has a grade 1 brain bleed, but just like Corbin's, if it doesn't get worse it should be okay. I can already tell that he is going to be a big Momma's boy. I can't explain it, I just feel it! And heaven forbid if the boy has a wet or dirty diaper, he totally freaks out!

I am so proud of them, they are doing so great right now. So is Ella, she is just taking it all so well and she loves being a big sister! The nurse told her she was a princess yesterday (which she usually calls herself a princess all the time), and she told her "No, I not a princess, I'm a big sister!'. Lol. But we will see how she does when they come home, I'm afraid it will be a whole new ballgame then! She does get a tad jealous. She did really well while I held Corbin yesterday, and she sat by me and talked to him. But as soon as we put him back in the bed, she wanted to be rocked like a tiny baby. Haha But that's okay, more snuggles for me!

We really appreciate continued prayers for our little fighters. Unfortunately things could change at anytime, but we are hoping and praying that they continue on the road they are on. A million times a day we thank our lucky stars that they are doing so well. It's so amazing how a mommy's heart (and daddy's!) can hold SO much love! We are so extremely blessed!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Welcome to the world, Abby, Allie, Corbin, and Carson!

This past week has been a huge whirlwind, and I am a little late updating (of course!), but we welcomed our sweet babies into this world last Friday, April 20th at 28 weeks and 5 days gestation.

Abby Reese, born first at 7:25am, weighing in at 2 pounds 6 ounces and 14.3 inches long

Allie Claire, born second at 7:26am, weighing in at 2 pounds 13 ounces and 15.2 inches long

Corbin Jacob, born third at 7:27am, weighing in at 2 pounds 13 ounces and 15.4 inches long (1 day old in photo)

Carson Eli, born last at 7:29am, weighing in at 2 pounds 11 ounces and 15.4 inches long

Thursday night was a normal night for me. I had been having increased contractions over the past week or so, but they were always able to stop them, and I don't believe I had many Thursday night at all. I went to sleep around 1am as usual, but I woke at 3am to a massively wet bed. I shot out of bed quicker than I had moved in months, and then sat there trying to figure out what the heck happened and why I would pee on myself that much. I went to the restroom and was trying to figure out if it was pee or amniotic fluid... and looking back on it, it is quite rediculous that I did not immediately know it was my water breaking. I was embarrassed to call the nurse because I wasn't 100 percent sure it was my water, I was in a bit of denial I think. I eventually called the nurse after about 15-20 minutes of contemplating, and quickly apologized and told her that either my water broke, or I peed on myself. I was a little frantic at that point, I remember just pacing in a daze and shaking like crazy. I didn't know how to react, was I supposed to be terrified that the babies were coming so early, or was I supposed to be excited that I may meet my babies? I didn't know how I should be feeling at all, there were so many emotions going on. They did a nitrizine test and of course determined it was my water that had broken. The craziness began, contraction monitoring, IV's started, rushed to L&D and started on magnesium sulfate to try and stop contractions and help with neuroprotection for the babies in case they couldn't;t stop contractions, and also a rescue dose of steroids for babies lung and other development. Even though my water had broken, they still wanted to stop contractions and try and keep me pregnant as long as possible. Unfortunately, my labor progressed really fast, and at 6:00am I was over 6cm dilated. The OR was called and the teams were gathered, it was a very overwhelming sight going into the OR. I had done okay up into that point, but as soon as I was wheeled into the OR I completely lost it, there were so many people in there, at least 4 people per baby and 2 people at my head, and over 6 people that would be behind the screen working on me. It finally became really real, and I was terrified out of my mind for my babies. We were SO thankful to be past 28 weeks, and that in itself was a big celebration, but 28 weeks is still so early, and there were so many unknowns (there still is).

The surgery went well. It took them a little bit to get into my uterus due to scar tissue from my previous Csection with Ella, but there were no issues. They were concerned that my uterus would not contract back down after the babies were out since my uterus was so large and "tired", and they had 4 units of blood ready for me. Luckily, my uterus behaved itself and did what it was supposed to do, and there were no complications. The babies didn't really cry when they came out, or move much for that matter (they had a big screen to where I could see one of the babies being worked on), and I majorly freaked out for a minute, but they told me it was completely normal, and I did get to hear a few tiny baby cries eventually. All the babies were put on CPAP machines (to deliver a little pressure and oxygen to their lungs) except for Abby who was put on the ventilator. They were all stable, and I even got to give the boys a little kiss before they were sent to the NICU. They were the tiniest babies, but were bigger than I thought they would be and looked better than I had expected. The NICU doctors and nurses were really impressed with their weights, and said that their larger weights would definitely help them out. I got to see them at 1am after my spinal had finally worn off. I was so exhausted and out of it by that time, and still felt like I was in the twilight zone from everything happening so fast. Larry wheeled me around from baby to baby, and I just stared at them, it was so surreal. As soon as I woke up the next morning the emotions hit, but I handled everything better than I expected myself to. They are all so perfect and beautiful, I can't believe they are here!

The babies really are doing great. Abby was extubated the next day, but the boys had to be put on the ventilator to get a dose of surfactant and to help them out a bit, but they were only on it a day. Carson ended up with a pneumothorax and had to have a chest tube for a few days, but that is out and all is well, all babies are on a CPAP now, and all are on room air except for Carson, he is lagging a tad behind in the breathing department. But the docs say it is completely normal and that it is great that he doesn't need the ventilator. They all spent a couple days under the billirubin lights for jaundice, but that is taken care of now. The girls got to start breastmilk through an OG tube Saturday, and the boys got to start on Monday. They are all tolerating it well, and their feeds have all been increased. They take so little, between 9ml and 5ml (depending on the baby) 8 times a day. It's nice right now to be able to feed them all with less than 10 ounces of milk a day, I am trying to get a huge stockpile going in the freezer. I was terrified I would have a bad milk supply this go round since I was so blessed with a great one with Ella, but it's looking like I am headed towards another good supply. I am pumping over 40 ounces a day at just 6 days postpartum, and each day I am seeing a few more ounces, woohoo!! So hopefully it stays that way and keeps increasing, at the 2 week mark we will evaluate everything with the lactation consultant, and I may start taking some medication to produce even more milk, I would love to get up to 100 ounces a day.

Ella has done so well through all of this, I am so proud of her! She is so excited for me to be home finally, yesterday she wrapped her little arms around my neck and said, "I am so glad you are home Mommy, you make me so happy". Talk about melting my heart! She LOVED seeing all of the babies, and of course Corbin is the one she always wants to see first. He is the one she talked about the most while I was pregnant. Larry will carry her from isolette to isolette and she will just get excited and say hi to them all, and then tell us something they are doing. Her first time meeting them Abby was screaming her head off (she has some lungs for a 28 weeker!), and Ella was really upset wanting to know why Abby was so sad. Every time a baby cries she will tell them that it is okay, she is so sweet. She has had one jealousy moment while I was holding Corbin, he started crying a bit and she starting crying and saying "but that's MY Mommy!".... :( But overall she is doing really great.... we will see how she does when they come home! This is our first time holding Abby!

I am recovering well, this C-section recovery is SO much easier than the one with Ella. You would think after being on bed rest for 3 months and losing all my strength, on top of having 4 babies taken out of me it would be worse, but thankfully it's not. Luckily I had the nurse take a quick pic of my belly after my water broke since I hadn't taken one in almost a month, so here is the last of my big pregnant belly. I gained 75 pounds total this pregnancy, which is just where they wanted me to gain.

This is a long post, but I wanted to have something to look back on and remember. This has just been a crazy week, but I am so thankful our babies are doing well, we are really thankful for every ones support and prayers. My faith has definitely been tested and has become so much stronger through all of this. I could not have made it through without the Lord, He is in control at all times, and it took me a bit to just give up the control to Him. It is still hard to do at times, but He has shown us so much through this all. The babies have their brain ultrasounds today to check for brain bleeds, and although they are doing so well, they are definitely not out of the woods yet, so we appreciate any continued prayers for our babies health and safety. They still have at least another 6 weeks or so in the NICU and a lot of things to overcome, so this is going to be a long ride! Once again we are so grateful for our friends and family, we would not have been able to make it through this pregnancy without all of the support and help!