Grant and Hazel in Valentine's Day outfits

Cordless…One Down, One to Go

Hazel and Grant on the floor
Hazel and Grant share the floor

Happy February 31st! Or, as the rest of the world calls it, March 3rd. We try to get an update out once a month at least, but a short month and other circumstances made us miss that goal. Darn.

Hazel and Grant continue to learn about the world around them. We are working harder than ever to give them “tummy time” and try to get them to interact with toys and their environment.

Grant and Hazel in Valentine's Day outfits
Grant and Hazel in Valentine’s Day outfits

We helped them dress up for Valentine’s day, and spent a somewhat quiet evening at home after an active day.

They had their five month NICU follow-up visit (five months after discharge), where we learned areas that we can focus their attention and what to expect in the upcoming months of their development.

Julie kissing Hazel as she rests
Mommy kissing a sleepy Hazel

I got a stomach bug, which seemed to be a contagious variety that many others at work were experiencing. As a precaution, I shipped off for a few days to make sure Julie and the kids would not get sick. Julie soldiered on without me, and did an amazing job. We also got some amazing help from friends and family along the way. Hey, it’s a lot of work!

Grant sitting in a Bumbo
Grant tries out the Bumbo

The best news of the month: Grant took another oximetry test and passed! We just found out today that we can remove the oxygen! We’ll be able to wean him off his diuretic medication over the next couple weeks too. We’ll keep the oxygen in the house through the cold and flu season just in case either one gets sick and needs a little extra air, but we really hope this is the last we’ve seen of oxygen needs. At this point, we have one cordless baby! It might not seem like a big deal to some, but for us it is huge and a great accomplishment for Grant. We are so proud of him for getting off the oxygen two months sooner than originally expected, and it is great to move from room to room without dragging an oxygen tank in a cart behind us.

We are continuing to work on Hazel’s feeding skills with taste-testing and are determined to get her feeding by bottle as soon as she is able. We are so looking forward to the day she no longer needs tube feeding and both kids will be cordless.

Hazel making faces
Babies don’t always smile. Hazel is no exception.
Living room game time.

Finally All Together at Home

home-finally-DSC_1256
Finally home – oxygen tanks and all.

It felt like this day would never come: after 132 days Hazel came home on Thursday, September 25th! We have finally realized the dream of being together as a family and it’s truly amazing!

Hazel-heading-to-surgery-DSC_1094
Hazel heads up for yet another surgery – this time to get a G-tube for her feedings.

The road home took Hazel a little bit longer because of her feeding. When we tried bottle feeding her while she was in the NICU, she silently aspirated (meaning she doesn’t show any signs of choking). For a while, she was sick for unknown reasons until process of elimination and a swallow study revealed it was her silent aspiration. The speech therapists tried working with her to develop the suck/swallow/breathe coordination and made a little progress, but were not able to get her cleared to go home with bottle feeding. Hazel needed surgery to place a G-tube for feeding directly into her stomach. Rather than being inserted through the nose, as they do it in the NICU, this is a semi-permanent tube that literally sticks out of her stomach.

Everyone came to pick up Hazel on her discharge day.
Everyone came to pick up Hazel on her discharge day.

On September 15th, the surgery itself went well for Hazel. However, not long after being brought back from the OR, Hazel was extubated. I was out of the room getting lunch when this happened. As I came back to the room, Julie waved me to come over to her quickly. With tears and the look of fear in her eyes, she explained that Hazel was not taking her own breaths after being removed from the ventilator. I held Julie close as the staff tried to rouse Hazel. Eventually she began to breathe and her oxygen levels came back.

Afterwards, Julie told me more of her perspective, as she watched Hazel turn pale, then blue and purple and limp like a rag doll. Her oxygen saturation had plummeted. We normally get concerned when it gets below 80% and panicky when it gets below 70%. At one point Julie saw 18% on the monitor. She said that she was able to hear my heart pounding in my chest after I had gotten in the room and realized what was going on – something I never noticed or don’t remember.

We stopped to visit with some of Julie's antepartum staff and introduce them to Hazel and Grant.
We stopped to visit with some of Julie’s antepartum staff and introduce them to Hazel and Grant.

The staff reassured us she was okay, and some preemies that have been intubated for a long time and are sleepy coming out of anesthesia are a little reluctant to start breathing again. After a few hours she was back to the very minimum amount of oxygen needs and doing well with breathing again. We were glad to have that episode behind us and have Hazel back.

Ready to roll!
Ready to roll!

So what is it like having both kids home? Well, it was nice to get accustomed to taking care of one baby when Grant came home. Getting used to two kids at the same time with medical needs is completely different. It takes planning to move kids around the house. They have tubes and oxygen tanks, and Hazel has a feeding tube with a pump on an IV pole. We have to be sure we are not tripping over all the tubing, that all parts are moving together, and try to do it when the other kid doesn’t need attention.

Hazel’s reflux is so bad, she sometimes vomits large amounts that can interfere with her breathing which is really scary. Less than 24 hours of being discharged from the hospital we switched her feeding from meal-like doses during the day to a 24/7 continuous drip and she seems to do better at keeping food down. Eventually she should outgrow this as her stomach muscles develop more and her esophagus gets longer.

Julie gets a little snuggle time with Grant - maybe a nap too.
Julie gets a little snuggle time with Grant – maybe a nap too.

Sleep is rare, as I’m sure it is with most new parents. However, we have a higher probability of losing sleep based on the number of kids with their medical needs and the equipment alarms. The oximeter alarm sounds like that really awful $5 alarm clock buzzer, especially through the small speaker on the baby monitor. The feeding pump has a beeping alarm like a small electronic kitchen timer. For some reason it does not pick up well on the baby monitor’s microphone so we overslept that a couple times. We now set alarms for the nighttime food refills. Formula only lasts 4 hours without refrigeration, so that is our schedule to wake up and refill, guaranteeing no more than a few hours of sleep at a time – assuming nobody cries to wake us up.

Just hanging out.
First time hanging out at home.

We already had a trip to the emergency room after noticing some green “stuff” around Hazel’s G-tube site. We were told to look for stuff like this as a sign of infection so we called her pediatrician’s 24/7 care line. At their recommendation, we packed up and headed in to the hospital ER in the wee hours of the night. Fortunately this was a false alarm, and the doctors were not concerned that it was infection.

Living room game time.
Living room game time.

So it might sound like I am complaining, but that’s just self-pity. I really can’t wait for the days when we can just pick them up and move them around without being attached to anything or worrying about causing them to vomit and choke. In the meantime, we still enjoy them so much. We are in wonder and amazement at our two little ones and we look forward to who they will become.

Hazel's closeup

Cribs

Hazel's closeup
Hazel’s closeup

Last time we posted to the blog, Grant had been moved from the ventilator to the SIPAP. He was doing very well for his first trial. Without having the normal preparation of a planned extubation (with steroid shots a couple days in advance), he held on for about ten hours. He was still oxygenating well and had a good blood gas, but he was starting to work too hard to breathe. Rather than letting him tucker out and having to intubate him in an emergency move, the care team decided to reintubate him while he was ahead. They tell us that even those short times off the ventilator are good for them, and we are very proud of what he did.

Grant in his PJs
Grant in his PJs

Our babies are now growing up so fast! As mentioned in previous posts, it is often the simple and mundane that gives us a sense of joy and relief. For two months, our kids have truly lived in a bubble. Their Plexiglas isolette (sometimes referred to as an incubator) has been their home in a dark room with no windows. They only left their isolettes briefly for events like Hazel’s PDA surgery, Kangaroo care, and to switch to a clean isolette exactly like the last one. As of last Thursday, they made the move to cribs!

Hazel gets a bath
Hazel gets a bath

I remember telling someone the news, who seemed unimpressed. Well, I’m sure for full term babies it is no big deal, but to put it in perspective: they moved into cribs exactly 7 weeks prior to full term. They really shouldn’t even be in this world breathing air yet, so I am going to be proud of our kids on that move!

Grant gets a bath
Grant gets a bath

Moving to the crib also means we were able to dress them in real baby clothes! I know Julie has been looking forward to this for a long time. We had to unbury the outfits that we had washed and neatly folded into storage bins, thinking they would not get to wear them until they came home.

On Saturday, they were stable enough that we were able to do Kangaroo care with both at the same time! For the first time ever, we were able to get a family photo with all of us visible in a single shot.

Hazel gets her hair brushed
Hazel gets her hair brushed

On Sunday, we were able to give them their first baths. They had already gotten sponge baths, but we were able to put them in a little tub and get them all cleaned up. They both tolerated it extremely well, and Grant only fussed when we were putting on his clothes. Once they were all cleaned up, I looked at them a little differently. I couldn’t see the breathing tubes, leads and monitors. Being bundled up in clothes, I felt like we were just spending time with our new babies who had never been so sick or born so early.

Hazel snuggled with her stuffed animal
Hazel snuggled with her stuffed animal

Hazel is showing progress on her oxygen needs, so the doctors have given her steroids to prep for a trial extubation later this week. Grant, on the other hand, was not willing to wait. He threw up and his breathing tube was getting pulled out. He was extubated to CPAP for a little bit, but his oxygen needs were at 100%. Not long after, he was reintubated and is holding fairly well.

So, to answer some frequently asked questions:

Grant snuggled with his stuffed animal
Grant snuggled with his stuffed animal

How much do they weigh? Are they gaining weight?

Yes, they are growing, but their weight fluctuates. Some medications can cause a little fluid retention, and added fluids (like IV or blood transfusions) can increase their weight artificially. When they retain too much fluid, they may get a diuretic as the extra fluid makes it more difficult for them to breathe. At one of the most recent weighings, Hazel just hit the 3lb mark and Grant reached 4.5 lbs (over 2 kilos).

First family photo - Julie holding Grant, Ryan holding Hazel
First family photo – Julie holding Grant, Ryan holding Hazel

When do they come home?

It’s odd to think that Grant has already surpassed the minimum weight to come home, but weight is not everything. They still have other developmental goals to reach, namely breathing and eating. The general guideline has been their due date, but they will do it at their own pace. In fact, it is most probable they will come home at different times.

The kids in their new cribs
The kids in their new cribs
Hazel's tiny feet at 2 weeks old.

Prayers

Hazel's tiny feet at 2 weeks old.
Hazel’s tiny feet at 2 weeks old.

Over the past few months, we’ve asked for a lot of prayers. We’ve faced challenges with Julie’s pregnancy and worried about the safety of the babies, lost a child, and worried constantly about the health of the surviving two triplets. As we continue on the journey, we ask for continued prayers and people wonder what they should be praying for. We usually aren’t sure how to answer, partly because we may not fully understand what they need to get better and partly because their situation is so dynamic that information is outdated by the time we tell people.

So here is what people can pray for:

Pray for the hospital staff – the neonatologists, fellows, nurse practitioners, nurses, nurses’ aids, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and all other care providers. Pray that they may use their experience and education, and the knowledge of their colleagues to provide the care that Hazel and Grant need to get better.

Pray for the medicine and equipment – that everything being used provides the right timing and dosage to fight infections or conditions that are hampering the babies’ progress.

Grant holding Julie's finger
Grant holding Julie’s finger

Pray for family and friends, who worry about our children and are there to support us, that they may have strength and be comforted when we are able to provide positive news of improvements.

Pray for Hazel and Grant; that they might continue fighting and never give up. That they may rest so they can grow and develop. Pray that they will be able to conquer their ailments. Pray that they are not lonely or scared but feel the care and love they are surrounded by.

Pray for Julie and me, that we might provide Hazel and Grant the comfort and love they need as part of the healing process. Pray that we can get our life organized and prepare a home for the kids to call their own when they leave the hospital.

Julie holding Grant in his isolette.

Update – 4 Weeks

Hazel being prepped for an IV
Hazel being prepped for an IV

It is hard to believe our babies are four weeks old already! Here’s what has been happening recently.

Hazel has a couple heart concerns in the last week or so. She has a PDA, which basically means there is an open valve in her heart. The valve is there in all babies in the womb and normally closes within a few hours after birth, but in preemies can remain open. The valve’s normal function is to bypass the lungs when they are not used for oxygen in the womb. Now that Hazel has been born, it is causing oxygen-poor blood to mix with oxygen-rich blood. She is receiving medicine to try to close this valve, in hopes that she can avoid surgery. This treatment is somewhat unproven, but has no negative side effects so it is worth the try if we can avoid surgery. The doctors believe this condition is causing her heart rate and oxygen saturation to periodically drop to alarming levels. Surgery has huge risks at this stage, which is why they have not rushed her to the OR already.

Wedding rings and Hazel's tiny foot.
Wedding rings and Hazel’s tiny foot.

The other concern is her heart ultrasound also shows either a PFO or VSD, which is some type of hole between two chambers in the heart. She is too small to be able to discern which condition they are looking at, but oddly enough this is a less concerning condition for the doctors in either case. It sounds like this may close up with development over time or may be watched after she comes home and needs correction when she is older.

The good news is her oxygen needs have come down recently, and it seems like her numbers are not dropping as frequently, and her heart rate seems to be a bit more stable. She is up on her feedings, which will help her grow and develop. She seems to be doing fairly well in spite of her heart conditions.

Julie holding Grant in his isolette.
Julie holding Grant in his isolette.

Grant had a PDA like Hazel, but his was made smaller with medicine, and he had to stop feedings while on the medicine. We were thankful the PDA closed, but not long after, over the period of a little more than a day, he took a turn for the worse and suddenly retained a lot of fluid (he had gained approximately a third of his body weight in just fluid over 2 days) and his oxygen needs skyrocketed. He was swapped from one ventilator to another and then again, receiving 100% oxygen at the highest pressure. They also added nitric oxide to his air supply to reduce blood pressure in his lungs. They gave him the heaviest diuretic they have on a constant drip to help him pee off his extra fluid and catheterized him just in case there was an issue there preventing him from peeing. He was on antibiotics, antifungal, and heavy steroids.

That night as we called the NICU to check on the status of the kids, the nurse reiterated how very sick Grant was. She started talking about how sometimes kids surprise her and turn around, but at this time they had done absolutely everything possible in medical terms. She told me about having a family meeting with the doctor, because they wanted to be sure we knew how grave things were. The nurse continued suggesting how we might want to take the last opportunity to just be able to hold him. In a roundabout way, the nurse was telling me that my son was dying. I certainly understood just how bad things were, but I refused to accept it. Saying goodbye to Marissa was difficult enough, and I did not want to believe this was it for Grant. All we could ask in this case was for Grant to turn things around and heal on his own. We needed a miracle. We got a lot of prayer chains going.

Grant sleeping peacefully
Grant sleeping peacefully

The next day the nurse gave us an update on his progress. He had a couple of very wet diapers, and in fact when the nurse went to change him, he peed so hard the catheter came out and was making a bit of a fountain in his isolette. It really is funny to think how simple things like peeing are what we pray for, and we are so thankful when we hear about very wet diapers. Over the next couple days he effectively peed off 3/4 of a pound of fluid, returning to his weight before he started going south. His oxygen needs have dramatically improved, so he is no longer on the drip of heavy diuretics, they have reduced his nitric oxide, and he is almost weaned off the steroids.

The NICU room
The NICU room

During this time, there have been many other temporary items of concern or some that are uncertain. It seems to be daily that we hear of a pick line, art line or peripheral IV line failing. Sometimes they have been unable to replace the line, and the kids are running low on sites to introduce new lines. Before having kids in the NICU, I really had no idea how tough it is to be a preemie. I always thought it just meant they were small and needed to be kept warm and have lights on them. In reality, every day is survival for them. Every minute, in fact. A “good day” for an extremely premature NICU baby is far worse than the sickest day most adults have ever had.

Julie has been receiving home care for her incision, as all the infection from her multitude of procedures and the ruptured amniotic sac had been affecting that. Antibiotics and the repacking of her incision have helped her improve, and she is very close to having the wound closed up. She is a trooper though, and still gets out to see the babies every day. She is still so hopeful for the day she can hold Hazel and Grant and bring them both home.

Ryan holding Hazel in her isolette

Lies, Lies, Lies

Ryan holding Hazel in her isolette
Ryan holding Hazel in her isolette

What’s with the title of this post? The best way to put it is to say I feel like a liar lately. Just to be clear, I generally don’t lie, and I haven’t lied on this blog, and I am not confessing to any lies here. Rather, I feel like every time I tell our story that I am making it all up. When I tell people what is going on lately, in the back of my head I feel like they are thinking they can see through my completely made-up story. To me, the whole situation and everything that has happened feels like it is only a figment of my imagination.

Maybe I haven’t fully come to terms with Marissa’s death, as if just thinking she is still with us would make it so. I miss her so much every day. I also don’t think I’ve fully grasped the concept that I still have two kids that depend on me. I have no idea how much my life has changed. And none of this feels like it really happened to me. I think: maybe it was a movie I watched, or the story of a friend of mine who went through this – but not me.

Hazel just barely opens an eye.
Hazel just barely opens an eye.

It’s Father’s Day weekend. I don’t feel like a dad yet, as I haven’t even changed a diaper, comforted one of them to sleep, fed or bathed them. I haven’t taught them something or disciplined either. Whether I tell people I am the father of triplets or keep it simple and just say twins, it hasn’t all sunk in.

I look at our kids, in their isolettes, and see them starting to open their eyes. They haven’t quite opened enough so I can see anything more than shadows between their eyelids, and I can’t wait to see their eyes and hear their little cries. I am amazed at the fact that Julie and I have brought children into this world. I am saddened by everything they are going through now, but I have hope that everything will make them stronger.

I’m sure this post seems all dreary and depressing, so let me try to turn that around. Right now I feel like a liar, and I’ve made up this whole story. So I have something to prove. I need to prove I am there for my kids and for Julie. I need to love them, support them, guide them and give them whatever they need. I need to prove myself as a father and earn the title of dad. I need to keep the memory of Marissa alive, as I move forward in my life with my new family. I will be inspired by them, and they will help me write the next chapter in this story, and I will know it all to be the truth.

Ryan cuddling with Grant (25 weeks + 1 day)

After Birth

Julie cuddling Grant (25 weeks)
Julie cuddling Grant (25 weeks)

I feel like I don’t know where to start with this post. Since our kids were born, I’ve lost all sense of time. Little things like getting a meal seem to take forever, and an hour in the NICU goes by in the blink of an eye. People are asking for updates, and I feel bad that we haven’t had time to post any updates through the blog. Here are the basics:

Hazel and Grant continue to fight for their lives daily. They were born at the edge of viability and the doctors have warned us that their stay in the NICU will be full of ups and downs. Bodily systems we normally take for granted are monitored daily for changes. Breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, hemoglobin, platelets, feeding, urine and stool are daily subjects for updates we get from the NICU team. We are learning a lot about the struggle typical of preemies and amazed at their fragility and endurance. We have both had the chance to hold Grant outside of the incubator, but Hazel has not yet been stable enough for this.

Infections are always a big concern. We wash our hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer before we can touch or hold our babies. Even with all these precautions, it is not a completely sterile environment. The tubes and lines going into their bodies will need to be changed periodically, either because of risk of infection or an actual detected bacteria formation.

Ryan cuddling with Grant (25 weeks + 1 day)
Ryan cuddling with Grant (25 weeks + 1 day)

For their privacy, I won’t go into details about particular daily challenges each faces on this blog. Everything is in constant flux, so by the time you read it, the situation may have changed. There may have been changes from the last NICU update by the time I write this. We will share more information in private conversation, but we’ll limit sharing with the internet.

Julie has been through a lot in the past week and a half. I continue to be amazed by her. She went in expecting a long stay in the hospital as we awaited the arrival of the triplets. She dreaded the loneliness, boredom and homesickness, but was willing to go through it for the kids. In less than a week, she started having contractions. At first she thought they were just the babies moving, but the monitors were detecting otherwise. Within about an hour of the first signs of contractions, they started to become painful for her and she was placed on magnesium sulfate, which is used primarily as neural protection for the babies in case they would be born but it can also have the effect of stalling contractions. Overnight the contractions continued, and we were moved from her antepartum care room to the labor and delivery area “as a precaution.”

The day’s contractions became increasingly painful, and Julie was given an epidural for the pain. She went through painful examinations of her cervix and ultrasounds. In the last ultrasound, the doctor had trouble seeing Baby A, and did a manual examination in which he discovered she was already starting to emerge. Julie was rushed into the operating room, where she delivered Marissa Jean vaginally. I saw Marissa’s hand move before she was quickly picked up by a nurse. We were in great suspense as the NICU team worked on Marissa in an adjacent room. At this time Julie was getting a cerclage (had her cervix stitched shut) to help keep the other two babies in and give them hope at a longer term in the womb. The NICU doctor returned to inform us that despite their best efforts, Marissa’s lungs were just not developed enough to get air into them. She was wrapped in a blanket and brought into us. We held her and sobbed. A doctor or nurse returned a few times to check her heartbeat until it could no longer be detected.

That night we were surrounded by close family as we mourned our loss. She was already missed as a daughter/granddaughter/niece.

Our hope turned to the other two babies, thinking that perhaps they would be able to make it in the womb for a couple more months. They still had their amniotic sacs, after all. The contractions were starting to subside, and Julie could now be on medication to prevent contractions and labor. In spite of all our hopes, the contractions returned. Julie was again moved to Labor and Delivery for closer monitoring.

This time, the contractions started placing increased stress on Baby B. Each contraction lowered the heart rate significantly, to the point that it was scary to watch the rate drop and the heartbeat would be barely audible through the monitor’s speaker. After a while of this, the doctors made the decision to do a c-section delivery of the other two babies.

Julie was prepped and wheeled away. I was told they would come get me in ten minutes. Ten minutes in hospital speak means “just keep waiting.” They finally led me into the operating room where it seemed the procedure was well under way. Julie had a spinal but was still extremely tense and uncomfortable. I can’t imagine what she was going through. Because of the surgical dressing, I couldn’t see anything, but I could hold the camera out enough to record the nurses who were ready to collect the babies as they were born.

“BIRTH!” they shouted out, followed by “thirty-six” – designating the time of birth. A baby flew by so quickly I couldn’t really see much. About 40 seconds later I heard the same declaration and time, followed by another baby being transported just as rapidly. I was left to simply comfort Julie as they proceeded to remove the three placentas, stitch her up and remove the cerclage stitches.

Someone placed bracelets on our wrists. I knew this was a good sign and reassured Julie, but she was still very stressed by everything she was going through at the moment.

Julie meets Hazel for the first time.
Julie meets Hazel for the first time.

The doctor came to get me and introduce me to my son, then to my daughter, neither of which yet had a name. Each were in their “Giraffe” beds and hooked up to breathing tubes and wrapped in plastic bags to retain heat. Our boy was carted away and Julie was wheeled into the room on her bed to meet our daughter. It was a very touching moment as she laid eyes on her for the first time and was able to hold her hand. I did my best to get both photos and video of the moment. Julie was then carted away to her room and I followed the NICU team to our kids’ room. I don’t even remember this trip, and I only know because I have the photos from when they first arrived in the room and can recall making the decision to go check on Julie at one point.

Julie was still extremely tense and agitated from everything. I think she found the will to overcome all the pain medications they administered, and I was there to witness everything she received. I did my best to calm her, talking her through breathing and positive imagery until she finally settled down. I then went back to Julie’s antepartum care room where immediate family was waiting so I could quickly share the news before going back to Julie.

After a while, Julie’s bed was rolled to the NICU so she could finally see Grant and see Hazel again. Then we returned to her antepartum room, completely wiped out. Over the last 76 hours, Julie had been in labor with contractions, received six IV pokes, got liters of drugs and fluid, delivered both vaginally and by c-section, received a cerclage, had a cerclage removed, named three kids and lost a daughter. She did all this with very little sleep. This was not the end, as she developed a fever, likely the result of an infection.

Julie was discharged on a Wednesday, and I had made plans to pick her up. We were both having such a difficult time in our grief. Julie was not ready to be separated from the kids, and I didn’t want to leave any of them there. I had already had difficulty being at work for only a day and a half that week. The hospital offered to let us stay in the room as it was not immediately needed, and we accepted the gracious offer. We finally went home that Saturday, after both kids had a “good” day in the NICU.

We are very thankful for everyone’s thoughts and prayers. Our entire family will need these for some time.

Marissa Jean, Hazel Maria, and Grant Carlos Anderson.

Birth Announcement

Marissa Jean, Hazel Maria, and Grant Carlos Anderson.

It has been a bittersweet week. We welcomed our three little ones into the world. On May 14 at 4:17PM, Marissa Jean (Baby A) was delivered vaginally. Because of the early membrane rupture, her lungs were not developed enough and despite the NICU staff attempts she could not be respirated. She passed at 5:06 pm in her parents’ arms, less than an hour after entering the world.

On Friday, May 16 at 10:36PM, Hazel Maria (Baby B) and Grant Carlos (Baby C) were delivered by C-section. Hazel was just a hair over a pound at birth. Grant was 1 pound 9 ounces at birth. Both responded well to interventions and are in the NICU. With a gestational age of 24 weeks and 1 day at birth, they have a long road ahead and will probably be in the hospital for another 4 months.

Julie is working to regain her strength after an extremely emotional and exhausting week. We appreciate your prayers and support in this time that is both joyful and sorrowful.

Julie ready to go to the hospital for monitored bed rest

Moving Day

Julie ready to go to the hospital for monitored bed rest
Julie ready to go to the hospital for monitored bed rest

Julie’s first day in the hospital was a little bittersweet. As we left home to check her in for monitored bed rest, she took one last look around the house, realizing that the next time she will be home is after the babies are born. When she returns, the house will be completely different. The basement project I have been working on should finally be done. Some furniture that is cramped in the living room will be moved into the space created downstairs. The furniture in our current bedroom will be completely moved out and a nursery, freshly painted and decorated, will be taking shape in preparation for the triplets’ arrival. When she comes back, she will be recovering from her c-section in a house that might seem strange compared to her hospital room where she will (hopefully) be for quite a while.

We left the house, not knowing exactly what to expect. As Tom Barnard read the news on the KQ morning show, I laughed at the funny parts, hoping Julie would join in. I could tell she was nervous and already a bit homesick.

Once we checked in, it was a complete whirlwind. As we filed into a tiny room, a nurse told us we would hopefully have a larger room around noon as it became available. Julie changed into the hospital garb and climbed into bed.

I shuffled my way into the corner, hoping to stay out of the nurse’s way as she whirred around, placing audio monitors onto Julie’s belly and adjusting them continuously as she sought the heartbeats of each baby. It’s still great reassurance to hear the strong and regular rhythm.

The hospital staff took blood, swabs, readings and observations. Everyone was great to work with and friendly, but there was a lot of poking and prodding. With the IV tap in, the magnesium sulfate treatment was started. This made Julie feel very hot and she started to get a bit nauseous to the point medication was needed to help with that. An ice pack provided a little comfort for her too.

We met with the nurse practitioner, doctor, and several nurses. I can’t remember who told us what, but the medications and treatments were explained. Some medications were used to prevent bleeding in the babies’ brains and relax the uterus, some were used to prevent infection, and some were used to help the babies’ lungs develop.

As everything was explained to us, one thing stuck in my head. Each day that Julie is in the hospital and pregnant reduces 9 days in the NICU (3 days per baby). That seems like such an incredible motivator, to think that each each week is worth 63 days less time the babies need to spend in the hospital! I knew Julie wasn’t looking forward to being stuck in the hospital for so long, but the sacrifice on her part would be worth it to help our kids when they are born.

Julie shortly after checking in for monitored bed rest
Julie shortly after checking in for monitored bed rest

As the day progressed, it was clear the larger room would not soon be available. I worked while Julie was occasionally monitored. After an extremely bland hospital food dinner, the bigger room was finally available! It was about 6:30 in the evening.

The “permanent” room is about twice as big. The view is not as nice, unless you like rooftop and brick wall views, but the space is worth it. I made trips back to the car for the rest of the belongings we packed for Julie’s stay. I believe it is about ¼ mile walk each time between the room and the car, so I probably got about a mile and half in that day.

The NICU doctor came in to our room and gave us a rundown of what to expect if our babies are born within the next two weeks. She told us how there would be a NICU team for each baby, about 8-10 people total just for our kids in addition to the other doctors and nurses in the room for the delivery. The babies would be immediately whisked away and we would be lucky to get a glimpse of them before they would be intubated, get a tube for feeding via their belly button and put into a Ziploc-like bag to preserve body heat. Without going into the details, I’ll say that at this point we would be most concerned about survival if they are born in the next couple weeks. Every couple weeks, the NICU doctor will give us an update what to expect, and each time the news becomes easier where, for example, the discussion is more about just needing a little oxygen instead of needing a breathing tube.

After the NICU doctor left, Julie had another round of monitoring the babies’ heartbeats. The little babies have so much room to squirm around, tracking them down can be challenging and time-consuming to verify an individual heartbeat to get simultaneous readings on all three. Just before the monitoring was over, Julie’s best friend arrived. I helped finalize all the arrangements Julie would need before I left to go back to the empty house.