Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Life in Special Care

It has been 2 weeks and 1 day since the boys were born. Every day has basically blurred into the next...most of the time I don't even know what day it really is. The boys were in the NICU for 4 days and then moved to the "Special Care Nursery" the Thursday after they were born and that is basically where we have lived ever since. The first few days were excruciating to have to leave them and go home to sleep at night. But as the days go by we have found a routine, and while it's not easy, it has become easier to deal with. It is what it is...a means to an end. In the end, the boys will come home with us when they are ready and we can officially start our lives as one family under one roof. For now, I spend my days from 8am to 10pm at the hospital with them, eating cafeteria food and making a long trek through the hospital for bathroom breaks. I wouldn't change a second of my days, being away from them even to sleep is unsettling enough.

Stockton and Archer - May 19th

We have learned so much about their prematurity while being here...seeing a life (or two) develop in front of your very eyes is absolutely amazing. Even just noticing that they did not have eyelashes when they were born and now they have a ton is so surreal. They were born at great birth weights for their age so it was hard to understand at first that they may look like full term babies, but they still have so many instincts that still need to develop. We are still working on being able to take the expected amount of formula on their own at each feeding in a specific amount of time, and be able to keep it down and digest it consistently. Every day they both are making progress with this. We have had a few days of the "baby dance" as the nurses call it. Where we take a few steps forward then a few steps back. But as of today, they are both taking their bottles at each feeding and we just increased the amount of formula each baby is consuming. We'll see how the next few days go.

The whole family

While we are anxious to take them home, we know this is not on our timeline but theirs. Justin and I laugh at how the smallest victories make everyday worth while. Just taking 5 ml of extra formula in their bottles deserves a high five or a fist bump. We are so proud of the progress they have made. They have received outstanding care from the doctors and nurses here. We have been lucky to have the same few nurses that take care of the boys, there is one named Connie that we are particularly fond of. She has been so helpful is showing me the ropes. I guess that has been the silver lining of the hospital stay - on the job training. Before the boys were born I had never changed a diaper, fed a baby or even picked one up by myself. They were too fragile! After 12 days in Special Care I am pretty much tackling the twins by myself (with back up if needed). Granted, I am only here for 12/13 hours each day, but at least I am getting some practice and a sneak peek of what I am in for when they get home. I love every second of it...well, maybe not being at the hospital in a small room...but just being with the boys is enough for me.

Sound asleep

As each day passes Archer and Stockton show more of their personalities. They look so much alike, yet are already so distinct to us. It has also amazed me how much love I have equally for each child. I know every parent feels this way, but it feels so good to experience it personally now. We have been truly blessed.

Already hitting brother... this is going to be fun :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Birth Story

First of all, let me start by saying how thankful we are for all of our family and friends who have supported, prayed and encouraged us through the entire pregnancy! It has been an incredible journey with many ups and downs but every instant was worth it when our twin boys were born Monday, May 10th, at 12:43pm and 12:44pm. The past week and a half has been crazy so I will try to just hit the important parts!

Wednesday, May 5th, I woke up and knew something felt a little different. The pregnancy had been getting harder but something was a little off that morning. I had already planned to pack my hospital bag "just in case" one of the next few weeks we would have to stay. Apparently that was a good idea because once we got to the appointment and they took my blood pressure and weight I knew I wasn't going home. My BP was sky high again and I was 7 lbs heavier than the last week. I knew it was fluid...the boys were taking up so much room eating had been getting harder to do. My Doctor told me it was time to take up residence at the hospital, probably until the boys were born. She said the dreaded words I had been putting off for 10 weeks - Pre Eclampsia. I knew it was likely at some point in the pregnancy pre eclampsia would rear it's ugly head and here she was. I was thankful it happened at 34 weeks 3 days instead of 24 like we thought back in February. I had left my bag at home, so I called Justin and filled him in on the news and made a list of what to bring. It's funny, but when they checked me into the hospital they put me in the same room we were in back in February -Room 622.

The next morning they started blood work which showed that my platelets had dropped to 82,000...not good for me. They want them at a minimum of 100,000 to be able to deliver without putting me under complete anesthesia. If I went under, the babies would be under also...just making things more difficult. Baby B (Stockton) was breech, so a c-section was definitely my future. Luckily platelets came back up that day, held steady. Friday, they dropped again, but not too bad. I was still taking on pounds of fluids daily which was starting to affect other parts of my body. The left side of my tongue started to swell which made eating and speaking difficult. The swelling also was giving me carpal tunnel in both hands. My fingers on my right hand are still numb! We spoke with our Doctor Friday night and she didn't think it was quite time to take the babies. The pre eclampsia was starting to really take a toll physically on me, but if we could keep the boys in just a little longer it was worth it. Same story through the weekend, daily blood work, vitals and monitoring of the boys.

Hooked up to the monitors...the only bare belly shot you get!

On Sunday, my platelets had dropped again into the 80,000 range. The on-call doctor conferenced with my doctor and they decided it was time to take the babies. They started me on steroids every 6 hours to artificially increase my platelet count so we could proceed with just a spinal block for the c-section. The monitors showed that I had been having contractions for a few days but had yet to really feel them...until Sunday night that is! I guess the babies wanted to make sure everything possible would happen to me before their arrival so I contracted painfully through the night. At around 3:00 am I finally got a bag of IV fluids, a shot of Terb and 2 Percocets to get some relief from the contractions.

Our c-section was scheduled for noon, and I was supposed to be ready to go by 10am. The morning was full of doctors...my OB (for me), a high risk specialist (for the boys), an anesthesiologist (for the section) and a neurologist (for the tongue issue). The neurologist was the scary part. Being evaluated and told that there might be a blood clot in a vein in the brain before giving birth isn't very exciting or encouraging. They scheduled the MRI for the following morning. After hearing that it was off to get ready to see the boys!

Before the big moment...boy that belly is big!

The c-section went as planned, except hearing that the first needle he used for the spinal block wasn't long enough so he had to do it again with a larger needle. Fantastic. After the spinal was done we hit the table and got started. It was scary, exciting and incredibly emotional. Of course the boys were stubborn, Archer didn't want to come out and Stockton was pushing to go first. They got Archer out first and within seconds he was screaming like a maniac..one minute later Stockton was out and competing with his brother for the loudest yell. There were 7 people down from the NICU since the boys were born at 35 weeks 1 day ready to whisk them away as soon as they came out. I was able to see each boy for a matter of seconds before they were taken to the NICU. Of course I sent Justin with them... I had to make sure that my boys were ok.

Archer Warren Hogle
5lbs 14 oz
18.25 inches long
Born at 12:43pm on 5-10-10

Stockton Tanner Hogle
5 lbs 7 oz
21 inches long
Born at 12:44pm on 5-10-10
After they were born I was told it would be 12 hours before I would officially be able to meet my sons. Since they were in the NICU I couldn't see them until I could stand and get into a wheelchair...which was 12 hours after the c-section. The wait was terrible...all I wanted was to be with my babies. Finally at 12:45am the nurse came to get me out of bed and into the wheelchair. That is when we found out that as a result of my spinal there was a "leak" which would give me spinal headaches every time I attempted to stand. The only way to get relief was to lay down. I was able to see the boys for about 10 minutes that night before having to be wheeled back to our room. It was horrible. We tried again the next morning but the same thing happened. 10 minutes with the boys before I had to go back. I have never experienced such excruciating pain in my entire life. The anesthesiologist came in Tuesday morning and said a "blood patch" would be the fix but they wanted to wait until after my MRI to rule anything else out and to see if it could resolve itself. We didn't receive the results from the MRI until late Tuesday evening. Luckily the MRI was clear and they attributed the swelling and loss of movement of my tongue to the pre eclampsia and that it would hopefully resolve itself as the swelling went down. She wanted to wait for Wednesday before doing a blood patch so it was yet another night without seeing my boys.
Finally on Wednesday afternoon they were able to do the patch. It wasn't instant relief but a few hours after the patch I was able to see and hold the boys for what I call the first time. It was the first time I was able to really see what God had given us. They were amazing! So small, so perfect. It was truly one of the most precious moments of my life. These small little miracles were our babies, perfect in every way!

Now that I was feeling "normal" it was time to get down to business on the obstacles facing us with the boys being born premature at 35 weeks 1 day. They were only on oxygen for a short time and were able to regulate their body temps almost immediately. Being born early they had not had the time to mature and have their "suck/swallow/breath" reflexes so that they could eat on their own. They had IV's for fluids and feeding tubes since they weren't ready to try a bottle yet. There was/is absolutely nothing physically wrong with them, they just needed to grow a little longer.

On Thursday they were moved from the NICU to the "Special Care Nursery" where they currently are now. They discharged me from the hospital Friday to go home. I can't even begin to go into detail how hard it was for me to leave my babies at the hospital that night and go home without them. I know I/we are not unique and that this happens to other families every day, but after everything we had been through during the pregnancy and everything we went though over the past week just to get them here...nothing prepared me for having to leave without them. It's been tough. And that's putting it mildly. Thank God for Justin...he has been my rock through all of this. He has been so strong and protected and has taken care of me and our boys. I am so lucky to have him!!!

We have been with the boys every day and I am thrilled to say that they are doing great. They have made progress and reached new milestones everyday. It's amazing how just a little time has helped their maturity. They are now off of the IV fluids and their feeding tubes were removed today. They are taking a bottle at every feeding and we are increasing their formula amount daily. We are keeping our fingers crossed and praying that they continue to hit their milestones and that they can hopefully come home soon.

They already have so much personality...such sweet sweet boys! I can't wait to take them home but we are so thankful for the care that they have received so far.
So...to sum it all up...

Twin Pregnancy
Hospital at 24 weeks
Off work and house arrest at 24 weeks
Weekly blood work, ultrasounds and doctors appointments
Hospitalized again at 34 weeks
Pre Eclampsia
Carpal Tunnel
C-Section at 35 Weeks 1 Day
Spinal Headaches
Blood Patch
Special Care Nursery
2 Beautiful Baby Boys

Absolutely Worth It.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

20 Days...

Only 20 days until my little guys will be here...that is unless they have a different plan. Let's hope they like the one in place and stay put for a few more weeks! I will be thrilled if we can keep them in until May 24th, our scheduled c-section. The last few months has been quite a journey with plenty of ups and downs. Thankfully, the boys are doing great. They are growing like crazy... last week Baby Archer measured 4 lbs 14 oz and Baby Stockton measured 4 lbs 13 oz. That's almost 10 lbs of baby in this belly! Keep growing guys, the bigger the better! I do have to say that Baby Archer could be bigger than he measured because they could not get a good measurement on his head...he is really really low and would not cooperate. I know there is a variance with ultrasounds so they could be bigger or smaller, but at least they are consistent. Seems like he getting ready for his birthday...scary! Baby Stockton is still footling breech therefore c-section it is! That is fine with us, after everything we have gone through we are happy to deliver that way. So, while we have a date scheduled it could happen at any time over the next 20 days.

I am so excited that the boys continue to grow and that they continue to grow virtually at the same pace. I will say that the more they grow the harder the pregnancy is getting. I try not to complain because I am so thankful for them, but it's getting tough! They are getting stronger and their kicks and punches are starting to hurt! Sleep - or the lack thereof - is probably my worst enemy right now. I have gone from 2 hours of sleep at a time to about 45 mins of sleep before it's time to roll over, go to the bathroom and shake my hands out because they are completely numb. I think I have found a way to arrange the pillows on the couch to make it more comfortable but it's still a struggle. Justin has been quite the trooper and never compains even though I know I keep him up all night. The swelling is now an everyday thing...my poor feet look like Shrek feet and my right foot seems to swell more than my left. I mentioned my hands going numb while I sleep, well it's turning into an all day/night affair. It hurts to grip a pencil (not to type though which is really weird...), open a jar or pretty much grab or carry anything. Luckily all the Thank You notes have been sent! I have to keep telling myself "just a few more weeks and this will all be a distant memory".

Here is a pic from today - 34 Weeks and 2 Days - you can tell I am just a little tired! haha! And the belly just keeps getting bigger.

I haven't had many strong cravings but there are definitely some foods that I can't live without.
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
  • Cheerios - regular and honey nut mixed every morning
  • Skim Milk
  • Cherry Limeades from Sonic
  • Fiber One granola bars
  • Apples
  • Taco Bueno - weekly I have to have a bean burrito and beef potato burritos. It's my after Dr Appt treat on Wednesdays.
  • Whole wheat toast with my cereal

That's about it for "must have" foods. Oh yeah, the occasional roll of SweetTarts make my day! I am trying to keep my diet in check, not only for the boys but also for the weight loss journey after they are born. I try not to think about that part though :) I love a good salad and try to get in as many fruits and veggies as I can. It's crazy, but there just isn't much room for food anymore. So now I just eat what I can.

Please keep your fingers crossed that the boys stay put for a while longer!! Just a few more weeks...just a few more weeks!