First of all, I’ll just say that if you came looking for pics, I’m sorry. I’ll get to it tomorrow. It’s so hard to keep up the blog, emails, phone calls, and Facebook. So, check back later and I’ll get a bunch up here!
The doctors are closely watching the babies’ weight, as maintaining their weight is one of the criteria for leaving the NICU. Some days they gain a few grams, some days they lose a few. It seems that they’ve stopped losing weight. They don’t really know how to use their calories very efficiently and have a hard time maintaining their body temperatures. Today Alayna’s weight had climbed back up to 4lbs even. She had gotten down to 3lbs 12oz at one point. Caleb weighed in at 4lbs 14, which means he’s back up to his birth weight. And Charlie weighed in at 4lbs 8.6oz.
Most of the time, the babies are so tired due to their size and prematurity, that they often don’t wake or even show signs of being hungry at feeding times. So, for now, they are all receiving food via a feeding tube. They are getting 98% or more of their meals from Rebecca’s milk, and a smidge of formula/fortifier as Rebecca tries to meet the demands of 3 babies.
Today, everyone was in a crib and there were no isolates! Wahoo! Caleb hasn’t spent any time in an isolate, sine he’s been able to keep his jaundice just under the limit and since he is able to maintain his temperature. Charlie and Alayna’s bilirubin count had been high the last few days, but has gone down enough that they do not have to be under the special lights anymore. Alayna and Charlie are also maintaining their body temperature now as well as weight, so they only needed to be heavily bundled in cribs today. We definitely like it more that way, because it allows us to hold them more often.
Today my brother Michael and his wife Tonia were in from NC, so they got to meet the babies! The other day, our friends, Jared and Sara Raby came to visit the babies too. Jared and Sara had twins born at 25wks gestation and became very familiar with the NICU when their babies stayed for 5 months. It was so encouraging to have them come and see how they could relate to so many of our stories and emotions.
Doug and I have been spending a lot of time at the NICU. Each day we get to the hospital for the 11am feeding and try to nurse all 3. Then we stay and try to nurse them again at 2pm. We stay sometimes through the 5pm feed. And then we go back for the 8pm feed! It seems like when we’re home, we enjoy the comforts it affords. And of course we love being with Audrey. But we HATE being away from the babies. When we go to the NICU we love the cuddling, holding, feeding, diapering of the babies. But we HATE being away from Audrey. Each day while we drive back and forth or are trying to race around to get ready and out the door, we feel so torn between the constant comings and goings.
Each day I have been attempting to nurse all of them at least 2 times. Sometimes it’s very successful and other times they are just super sleepy or they seem to be more in a practice mood as opposed to a serious eating mood.
It’s hard to know what the schedule holds long term. We don’t know if it’s a matter of weeks or days that the babies will be in the NICU. We are unsure how the routine will need to be changed when Doug goes back to work Monday. And then of course, how things will change if one of the babies is at home and the others remain in the NICU. I never really know more than a day ahead of time where/with who Audrey will be staying. And I’ve not real idea how I’ll get around next week without Doug, since I’m still in the very early stages of recovery!
I’m doing ok…..
I was grateful to get an extra day in the hospital, thanks to some last minute finagling. I came home late Wednesday, the 11th. The incision pain is very difficult and my entire belly is still ridiculously sore and swollen. The surgery to remove 3 babies was rough!! It was no where near as easy as a c-section for Audrey. Pulling 3 babies out was 3 times as terrible! As one operating room nurse said, in her 10+year career and seeing every surgery imaginable, she’d never seen one so rough as a triplet c-section. My entire stomach is so much more sore than it was when I delivered Audrey. Since I wasn’t expecting it to be more traumatic, it’s been more frustrating to me, I think. Everything seems 3 times as worse! I’m wearing a massive compression belt/binder since having 3 babies inside had stretched my belly out to a whopping 55inches around! Obviously, a 5ft 1in girl, will probably NEVER spring back correctly…..but I shouldn’t go down that road right now, trust me!
My legs and feet are still swollen due to the preeclampsia, but it is slowly improving. I still can only wear 1 pair of slippers since they don’t fit in any shoes. And I still find walking is tough and am using a wheelchair to get around the hospital. The headaches are not quite as severe from the preeclampsia now. Monday I will get my blood pressure checked again. It’s pretty nasty to see what effects that caused. I can’t believe that 12+lbs of fluid gained in a few days has left me feeling so yucky. As the swelling goes down, it doesn’t look like my skin is getting taut. That bothers me – a lot! …ok yeah, wasn’t going to go down that road.
So, I’m sore, tired, sick and drained – actually no real pun intended with being ‘drained’, but I have pumped enough milk already to fill an ocean. I’m getting about 4 1/2 hrs of sleep. I’m pumping 9x a day with about 5- 6 nursing attempts thrown in! Each nursing session takes a good 20+ minutes since the babies are so small and not skillful. Combine this time with 9 pumping that take anywhere from 15-40 minutes – my shoulders, neck and back are so sore and fatigued. I’m up to abut 33oz of pumped milk in a 24hr period, and that’s not counting whatever the babies take from me! Pretty crazy for only having given birth 8 days ago!
My emotions are definitely following a pretty tripped out roller coaster. Joyful and full of gratitude one moment and then in a heap of tears on the floor, suffocating from fear, worry, frustration, etc. I so hate this time that I have to choose between the babies and Audrey. I hate that I can’t take care of myself in this post-surgery state because I want to take care of my kids. It’s so tough being so overly tired and in so much physical pain. I really can’t stand never knowing what the next few weeks hold. It’s so hard to live in constant confusion, always rushing here and there, never knowing where Audrey’s going to go next, what we’ll eat, and how school will get done, how Doug can get back to work, how many feedings I can give the babies, and whether or not I’ll be able to pump when it’s time, etc. I won’t even begin to go into the emotions I have about the end of the pregnancy, the fears I have of when the babies will come home, the finality of our 12+ year pursuit of having children, the inadequacies I feel of being the mom to 4 kids, and the concerns I have over the way I look after having carried triplets.
Suffice it to say, I’m a constant teary fountain! I went from having 3 babies inside me, constantly kicking me and letting me know they’re there, to now being without my babies and not knowing when they’ll be home. My role as their Momma seems to have taken such a back seat position as nurses now dictate how I can care for my babies. And my role as a Momma to Audrey has been thrust last minute upon my friends. It seems as though surely Audrey must wonder about my devotion to her right now. And I feel like no matter what, I just HAVE to have Doug near me in order to even breathe – but he has to go back to work on Monday, making all the above mentioned anxieties and inconveniences even worse.
We have much to be thankful for
It’s a strangely ironic phenomenon that, for us, the NICU has been a place of overwhelming joy. Each time we walk through those doors, we are filled with anticipation to see our three little ones, and to rejoice over their continued improvement. But we were reminded the other day that for most, the NICU is anything but a happy place. The baby in the bed next to Charlie died the other day. As I sat behind the privacy curtain and praised Alayna for her efforts nursing, and as Doug cuddled and sweet-talked Caleb, the couple next to us watched their baby’s life slip away. I knew that their baby wasn’t doing well, but Doug hadn’t heard that conversation. Doug started to wonder yesterday when he saw the look on their faces. We realized afterward that we had never seen them smile. While we cuddled our babies, the full truth became painfully clear, as we watched the nurse dress their baby in a pretty little dress inside the isolate, then removed her from the tubes and wires that could no longer sustain her life. The nurse handed her to her parents, who briefly smiled as they held their little girl for the first and last time.
We sat silently after that, our hearts aching for this couple that we didn’t even know. Humbled, broken, thankful, and undeserving, Doug and I worship our Father this week as both the giver and taker of life. Why he has abundantly enriched our family with these three little healthy, growing, thriving lives, our own words and works cannot explain. It is all of His grace, His love, and His sovereign choice. We praise Him, and hope that we would praise Him all the same if it had been one of our little ones who didn’t make it.
More than anything, we ask that you would pray for us. In the middle of all this overwhelming joy, we’ve seen that our hearts are indeed desperately wicked. The hectic pace and not being able to control everything tempts us to worry, fear, complain, become frustrated, etc. We’re so physically tired that we feel unable to think clearly or even pray clearly. After a flood of tears last night, we found ourselves praying and repenting for lack of trust in God already. We feel a bit like the children of Israel in the wilderness. We’ve just seen God part the Red Sea, as it were, to bring these three little lives into our family, yet still we complain that the water is bitter, rather than trusting that God will provide for our needs. We desperately desire that this not be the case, and we worship the God who is able to not only part seas, but also able to change wicked hearts!