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Thriving at Home as a Family of Four!

First off I have to apologize for not posting the last few weeks. As yall can imagine, things got very busy for our new Norris family of four around the time I was released from the hospital but I will give a update for everyone who got left in the dark to summarize how we have all spent the last few weeks and then get to how life at home is now :) Ive been delaying this post because I really wanted to attach pictures but I still have not had time to go thru my camera so Ill try to update again soon with more pics!

We are very happy to say that both boys had a beautiful stay in the NICU with no major medical setbacks to speak of. Both were there primarily to grow a bit more and learn to eat well before going home. They needed all the typical 34 wk preemie assistance that was expected from the beginning yet nothing more… Carter needed a few days of suntanning for jaundice, Brody only one day and both boys has assistance by the isolate maintaining their body temperature for about 2 weeks which gave them more time to use their calories to strictly grow and not have to heat up their little bodies. Both boys had IV’s for 4 day to deliver antibiotics (started prophylactically after delivery and then discontinued when cultures came back normal) and TPN and lipids to help them maintain their blood sugar and nutrition. Josh and I jointly decided we could hold off on holding the boys till the IV’s came out as infants veins are so fragile your lucky to get a full 24 hrs out of one of the IV’s and any movement of the limb the IV is in makes it fail even more quickly… Carter was needing at least two IV sites a day (he squirmed a lot more) thus Josh and I felt we would rather postpone holding them for our own pleasure knowing that the mere act might make them have to get a new IV site placed-a heartbreaking thought! Thus we happily held our boys for the first time when they were 5 days old, right before I was discharged from the hospital after my ceserean-a long awaited moment that was so rewarding! I think it was a great decision in the long run, in addition to the IV consideration it also gave them 5 more days to stay relatively unstimulated in their quiet, dark, and warm isolates designed to mimic the womb before we brought them out into the real world environment and the sensory overload Im sure it presents to a 34 weeker.  They were both started immediately on nasal gavage tubes to deliver my breast milk to their stomachs and were slowly introduced to the very coordinated process of learning to drink from a bottle. Brody proudly completely finished his first entire bottle at 8 days old. Carter never showed the hunger cues (rooting, eating hands, etc.) the doctors looked for before they would introduce a bottle but on August 11 they finally decided to just offer him one and see what he would do and he finished the entire bottle on the same day at 16 days old!  Brody had occasional episodes of ‘bradycardia of prematurity (where his heartrate drops temporarily when he is in a deep sleep) so after monitoring for about 10 days and attempting to treat it by just delivering room air thru the nasal cannula to keep him more stimulated the decision was made to go ahead and start him on caffeine which meant he would go home on the medication and a apnea monitor for a few weeks.  Bradycardia of prematurity is attributed to a neurological immaturity that babies simply grow out of typically between 37 -44 weeks gestation.

Brody was showing the stamina to routinely finish all his bottles just a couple days before Carter and on August 20th at 25 days old Brody was approved to go home with us.Carter had met all the criteria to go home as well yet at the last minute they gave him the carseat challenge and he failed immediately. The carseat test is something all NICU babies have to pass, which involves  maintaining all vital signs for 90 minutes while seated in their carseat, sometimes a challenge for preemies due to the crunched position it places the babies in. Brody had no problems but Carter’s blood oxygen levels started dropping almost immediately when he was in place… and it took over 15 attempts over the next 10 days to figure out how to help him pass. I had bought what they considered the best carseat for preemies, the Chico Keyfit, which is designed for babies as little as 4 lbs so Carter fit perfect in the seat thus everyone was stumped for a few days and they told me it had been a really long time since any baby had had so much trouble passing the test without any known reason-JOY what the luck! We did a GI study to see if there was significant reflux causing problems and then did a swallowing study after the GI study showed he had milk silently penetrating down his windpipe with feedings (aka, slightly going down the ‘wrong tube’). The swallow study showed that he ate the best with the Playtex VentAire bottles which have the slowest flow on the market, even slower than Dr. Browns preemie nipple or the NICU preemie nipples so off to buy our third set of bottles I went (luckily I had only bought a couple of the other two types already). Using this bottle combined with us pacing him more for a few weeks helps him to avoid accidently aspirating milk past his trachea and we now feed Brody the same way as he would get choked up himself trying to chug his bottles so quickly, I think he finished his bottles the first few days he was home in about 2 minutes flat! Initially I thought “this is great, he is eating so well-Ill be back asleep in no time” but then I found out from the occupational and speech specialists and nurses that its actually bad for babies to eat that quickly on many levels and that we needed to teach him to pace himself and finish his bottles somewhere between 10-30 minutes. Finally 10 days after we took Brody home, after we had consulted with 4 neonatologists, 2 certified carseat specialists, a speech therapist and 2 occupational therapist on what else could be done to help Carter pass the carseat test,  they finally made the call to remove the infant insert from the carseat and place blankets around Carter  (outside the harness so still safety approved) to snug him in the seat instead and it positioned him different enough that he passed on the first attempt and was able to go home with us on August 30th, thus having a 35 day NICU stay. WHAT A JOYOUS MOMENT August 30th was for our family! All in all we had all spent 110 days or almost 4 months at Woman’s Hospital of Texas this summer. Thankfully, I endured the majority of them and the worst of it myself with the 80 days of strict bedrest and IV medications and the final leg at the NICU was basically stress free and we have two perfectly healthy, growing boys at home with us now. Praise God!

Speaking of bedrest…many were curious how I felt after finally being released to stand up again for more than 3 minutes at a time. I can say this, the first 2 days home after leaving the hospital were pretty ‘scary’ in the sense that I got winded, my pulse sky rocketed and I routinely almost fainted after just working around the house in 20 minute intervals… I was so nervous it would be weeks if not months till I had even normal stamina back but the 7th day at home I woke up having much more energy with tasks and by the 8th day, or start of the second week after delivery, I felt basically normal with day to day things so it was a very steep improvement in everyday normal endurance. By the eighth day I was full blown decorating the nursery, cleaning closets, ‘running’ up to the NICU, and going thru Target and Babies r Us on the way home, etc. I stayed very busy pumping every two hours, visiting the boys, and getting the mountains of supplies at home unpacked, organized,  and ready to bring the boys home. I really hit the ground running with just those two first days at home taking a toll on me, yet Im sure the months of laying in bed dreaming of moving again helped me to recover “quicker than expected”. That and the sight of piles that had accumulated in every corner of every room of my beautiful home while my husband spent every nonworking minute with me in the hospital, lol. The c-section was really a breeze and it didn’t slow me down at all recovery wise, it was definitely more the bedrest those first few days, so I had to really work hard to make sure I still took it easy that second week after delivery to heal properly as I was still only a week out from major abdominal surgery. Of course, Im certain I still did way more than I was supposed to be doing but I felt good and had been planning my moment of release for months so who could blame me… sadly it was much harder to stick to the restrictions when it was only my own health I could be harming and not my unborn children. My OB definitely had a sense of what I would be up to the second I went home so she basically told me just to listen to my body as it would tell me the next day if I had done too much the day before and so that is what I went on. And I am happy to say I had my 6 wk check up  and my OB said everything looked fabulous and Im medically released… although she told me to give it another 2 weeks till I exercised ‘how she knows I want to exercise’ meaning no Crossfit or trying to run 5-10 miles till I was 8 weeks out, which I was perfectly okay with-  a good 3 mile speedwalk around the neighborhood pushing the boys in the stroller  has done me in pretty good this week, haha.

Brody is still on caffeine today going on ’42 wks’ and we still have occasional episodes that our monitor picks up but he always  ‘pulls himself’ out of them before we can even get to him to stimulate him so the pediatrician said they sound like they may not be actual major events of bradycardia anymore however we will wait a few more days before the monitor computer is actually downloaded and reviewed by a specialist for the first time to determine if Brody still needs the medication for a few more weeks or not. After discontinuing the caffeine we will remain on the apnea monitor another few weeks to monitor closely without medication to make sure we do not have any further episodes. Alot of people ask if this has a correlation to SIDS and what the neonatologist told me was that it has no connection and does not make Brody more at risk for SIDS in the future. This is truly a prematurity issue and by the time we give up the caffeine and monitor we will be in the clear and have the same SIDS risks as any other infant. After much debate Carter ended up coming home on the apnea monitor as well. Although he technically dosent need it, the doctor said that if one twin needs a monitor he almost always sends both home on one and put that with the carseat issues we had we all felt it would be nice to have one for him for at least car rides for a few weeks just to make sure it wasnt a one time miracle that he passed the test. At first the thought of these monitors seemed so awful and I will admit the cords are a hassle for sure but Josh and I both LOVE the security it gives us and the stress it takes away knowing that they are there to alert us to anything out of the norm. We were already so used to relying on the nicu monitors that taking these monitors home with us for a few weeks made for a nice transition as it already felt weird taking the babies directly from such a controlled sanitary environment to our home at the mercy of the two of us unexperienced parents, HA! We have slept peacefully from the start not having to worry about what every little grunt or cough in the night is or worry if they are breathing or not. It will be one very scary day for Josh and I Im sure when we get rid of the monitors after having this safety net for a few weeks!

 I am solely ‘breastfeeding’ the boys. I put it in quotations because they actually do most feedings with bottles rather than nursing but they still are exclusively receiving breastmilk which is all that matters. We have ended up this way as of now for a number of reasons. First off it was how we had to start since the boys were in the NICU and their intake needed to be closely monitored which cant be done if only breast-fed.  I had a lot of assistance from lactation specialists who had taught me the importance of keeping my calorie intake high, hydrating, and early and constant pumping thus I did my part and obeyed all this and pumped for 30 minutes at a time every two hours… yes a VERY all encompassing job in itself… but it proved to work as my milk came in on day two and I have been producing enough milk to feed not just twins but quads ever since. We have already almost filled the deep freeze we just bought to store my excess milk-a lot of work but such a blessing! In the early days it was so personally rewarding to be able to do this for the boys when it was all I COULD do but I can say that after the first month I have come to almost despise that darn pump, haha. Yet as much as I would like nursing to work for us now Im almost ready to give up trying and just keep pumping and bottling.  The bottle feeding has its many advantages, for one we can ensure that the boys are taking in the recommended 3 oz per feeding this way as its still very important they gain good weight to catch up. Also, they eat more at a feed when fed by bottle since its not so exhausting for them so we can go 3 or more hrs between feeds (and 4-5 hrs at night now) if fed by bottle vs only going about 2 hrs between feeds when nursed without supplementing afterwards. And as you can imagine with twins, feeding every two hours plus still having to pump off the excess just isn’t really feasible.  Carter also has alot of reflux so he spits up alot still after eating horizontal and having to handle my generous milk letdown which is another BIG factor to us not nursing. I typically pump while I bottle feed the boys so that saves time (and is quite a sight!). Yes to some it might seem a bit like a circus but its working quite well and for the most part things are going really smoothly and its not impossible by any means-time consuming but not impossible. Im sure alot of this is due to the fact that both our boys are terrific babies, staying very close to their NICU schedules feeding every 3 hrs during the day ( we wake them during the day if they dont wake up but were usually right on que)… and this schedule really is a life savor because we can plan out our day more, know when their hungry vs when maybe they just need reswaddled or held, know how much they will want to eat at each feed, and we all get pretty good but ‘interupted’ sleep at night as they go on average about 4-4.5 hrs hrs between feeds. Being on a schedule and still waking them both for daytime feeds Im sure sounds crazy to those with single babies but it is working fabulous for us so far and keeping us all organized! They are really good at putting themselves to sleep and sleep about 18 hrs a day still!
When we brought Carter home the boys were 5 wks and the doctor approved us to go to demand feeding at night knowing that between the two boys plus my generous milk supply SOMETHING would be waking us all up at least every 5hrs, thus we still get in our needed feedings to grow. The NICU was not only a saving grace due to putting the boys on their great schedule but also Im pretty certain I could have never survived bringing twins home immediately after 3 mo bedrest and a c section. And in all honestly, as much as we hoped both boys could come home together, having at least 24-48 hrs with just Brody at home was probably essential to us getting a great routine down ourselves as new parents without ever getting overwhelmed. Those first 4 or so first hours with Brody at home were very disorganized  with Brody freaking out in his new environment and Dad freaking out that his little boy was crying and there were no NICU nurses in sight lol… oh and did I mention it was 8pm and the electricity went out for 3 hours just 45 minutes after we got home! And as many of you know my sister sells Scentsy so it took about 20 minutes just to find a single candle and match in our home! Yes the birth story we have to tell the boys later definitely continued into those first few memorable hours at home with Brody!
By day 3 of just having Brody home though we had caring for one baby down and I started getting very antsy about getting Carter home too. Im not going to say that having two at home now dosent make things more interesting but they are excellent sleepers so if two people are taking care of them its a piece of cake, feeding both single handedly around the same time is what really gets fun! We still feed the boys pretty cautiously to ensure they dont try to swallow and breathe at the same time  but they have both shown much more control over the past 7-10 days and are usually very good at pacing themselves now. Another week or so and I bet they will eat more like a typical newborn which will really be a sigh or relief for Dad and I. Its so hard to believe the boys will be 8 weeks tomorrow or 2 weeks corrected age-I am ordering them toys online today so we can start having more playtime as they are really beginning to be more interactive with us!

As I mentioned Carter started showing more and more symptoms of significant acid reflux so we started him on medicine two weeks ago after taking him to the pediatrician. Two weeks ago, just one day shy of the boys due date, Carter weighed 5 lbs and Brody weighed 5 lb 13 oz; and the doctor was very happy with both of their weight gains and feels we will be caught up in no time! I am sure Carter weighs around 6 pounds now and Brody 7! The NICU recommended that due to their prematurity and low birth weights we meet with Early Childhood Intervention to get on top of things early and make sure the boys are hitting their milestones, which are referenced for the first few years to their due date not actual birthday (so treating them like an almost two week old since thats what they truly are developmentally). They will be coming out to the house next week to test the boys spatial skills, motor coordination, cues and reflexes, hearing, etc. so I am very excited about this evaluation and agree it sounds like an excellent idea! From the phone interview and basic questionaire it sounds like the boys are doing really well and actually somewhere developmentally between their actual age (almost 8 wks) and corrected age (almost 2 wks old) which is great but I still look forward to the in depth evaluations and more importantly getting educated from another specialist on ways to help them continue to develop and learn well in the future months as this is all new to this momma anyhow and I always enjoy learning something new!

Josh and I are still adjusting of course to our new lifestyle. I think the biggest change is just not going places together but instead taking turns on the weekend to run errands-its literally like passing the baton on a relay race around here. We also struggle to find the time to do the small things we would like to accomplish (like updating this blog!) but we simply try to remind each other there will be plenty of time for those things later and instead enjoy the little moments with our babies which is much more important-so sorry fellow blog followers for me letting this be the thing that went!

I really hope to post pictures here soon of our little cuties. Our professional newborn shots look amazing and I cant wait to see them all and share!! Thanks for keeping us in your prayers and for continuing them for our new and adjusting family!

Love, Elissa, Josh, Carter & Brody

Our Perfect Little Miracles!

God has truly blessed us with more than we ever dreamed of. We have two perfect little miracles we can now call our sons who are thriving here with us in the big world now.

Many may be curious why we ended up delivering Thursday, July 26th instead of our scheduled July 27th date. Ironically Friday was set purely based on scheduled out OR availability-we had initially requested Thursday  so they could share a birthday with their late great grandfather, but they were booked so we took what we were offered. Monday I was weened slowly off the magnesium which may or may not have been holding off me going into labor this entire time. I was off of all medications by Wednesday morning and not much changed so we just settled in for the wait till Friday. Thursday around 3 pm I started contracting slightly more and they were a little more intense, still nothing major like true labor contractions, but my doctor wanted to come and check my cervix before she left work for the evening just incase, as we had never done so and she had no idea if i was 2 cm dilated or 8 cm dilated after all this time. Well she came by around 5:45 pm and we learned  I was 4-5 cm dilated… who knows if I had been that way all these weeks or if things had changed a lttle since discontinuing the Magnesium. Also Baby A was riding really low thus there was no way for us to predict if these contractions were picking up because I was finally going into true labor or if we would be fine thru the night and make it to our scheduled time slot the next day. She graciously gave Josh and I the option of just calling it ‘Active labor’ so she could book an OR as an “emergency C section” so that we could ensure she would be the one to deliver us (and not chance an overnight on call dr) and we took her up on the offer as I was getting uncomfortable, though not in pain, and it sounded awesome to not have to endure another 18 hrs of discomfort. So Josh and I got excited, gathered our things and headed to deliver the boys and our parents, brother, and sister in law all had just enough time to join us for the big event!

The surgery went amazingly easy for me, we were delivering the boys before Josh and I even knew we had begun! What we quickly discovered was exactly how much God had been watching over these boys which is why I will always see them as my true miracle babies.

Baby A, now our precious little Carter Layne, was born at 6:51pm weighing 3lb 1 oz and 16 inches long. He came literally reaching out of mommies tummy (as you can see in the slightly graphic picture attached), kicking and screaming completely ready to join us in all his glory. We finally got to see his placenta and cord which we knew had started aging at 30 wks as happens a lot in twins and discovered his poor little umbilical cord was truly on its last leg-the doctor said she couldn’t believe he had been doing so well getting the proper nutrition and oxygen thru it by how shriveled and sickly it looked but the close monitoring we had done had proved that he was somehow still thriving till the end-no doubt with some intervention from God after seeing that thing. He was brought in to me right away all swaddled while they were still finishing my surgery and the neonatologist reported he was perfect and doing very good all on his own.

Baby B, our very handsome Brody Wayne, was born exactly one minute later at 6:52pm weighing 3 lb 13 oz also 16 inches (1 cm longer than his brother). You might recall we discovered at 32 wks he had his cord wrapped around his neck twice, something that happens as much as 25% of births. Well come to find out this miracle son actually had his cord wrapped around his neck not 2, not 3, but FOUR times… my doctor said she had never witnessed that before in all her experience and she again had no idea how he had been doing so well in that condition but thanks to all the monitoring here at the hospital we had known he was never without oxygen or in distress. He was immediately labeled by the doctor our Olympian for surviving and thriving under that condition and my doctor mentioned numerous times as she finished the surgery exactly how glad she was that we went ahead and delivered that night and not waited, and possibly subjected the boys thru 18 hrs of frequent contractions, as both boys were in dire need of being delivered and no doubt were subject to falling into trouble quickly with all they had going on.

It must have been Gods plan for us all along to deliver the boys Thursday night all along, right at 34 weeks exactly and we are so happy the boys got to 34 weeks successfully but also so thankful all the signs pointed to us not chancing tempting to go any further with our twin pregnancy. Combine this with how well they are doing outside of the womb it looks like everything worked out perfectly for our family and God no doubt was watching over us thru this pregnancy till the end.

So now for ALL the details from their first few hours of life for those interested in these little miracles! The boys have already shown us their differing personalities as Carter, our little pint sized ball of fire, is a 3 pound rockstar. He proved what all the doctors and statistics show in that many times its the smaller babies of a multiple pregnancy who come out the biggest fighters. He has not missed a beat since joining us and is very interested in learning what is going on in this big world always so alert, looking around and moving constantly…and he always has to have his little fingers and toes wrapped around something in his crib station and loves his pacifier!  Younger but ‘bigger’ brother Brody is just the opposite, always completely relaxed, happily sleeping the day away as any 34 week baby would be expected to. Both boys lungs have proven to be fully mature and ready for their use without help even from the start which was the biggest unknown factor we faced with delivering them at 34 weeks.

In fact, the neonatologist told us today, now after giving the boys almost 48 hours on their own, that both boys are doing fabulous, at least as good if not better than expected for 34 weekers. Brody’s blood oxygen saturation was slightly low right at birth and he was grunting a little initially with his breathing so he was placed under a oxygen hood for a few minutes which just boosts the oxygen in the air he was breathing but by the time Josh got up to see him after I left recovery he was already out of the hood and was breathing well on his on on his tummy which continued thru the first night. The event proved that he just had a little labored breathing likely from fluid in his lungs due to cesarean delivery and they confirmed it had nothing to do with the cord having been around his neck nor due to immature lungs as he has done great ever since.

The boys started getting my milk yesterday and both did great so they will continue to double the amount they give them each day as they intentionally j go slowly as to not overwhelm their digestion and are they deliver extra nutrition thru IV as well till they get up to enough calories by milk. We were happy to hear today that they did great again with doubled feeding amounts so the doctor told us if all is well they could be off the IV nutrition by tuesday or wednesday which will make us so happy as they will no longer have anything sticking into them! Carter spent the day under the tanning bed today as his bilirubin rose a little and the doctor told us they usually start the light therapy for jaundice at very low levels of bilirubin when their in the NICU since its so easy to get on top of thus it wasnt even that high and is of no concern. Brody has had a mild “brady” spell  (where his heartrate slows along with his breathing rate) which is somewhat typical for a 34 weeker and its simply due to the normal immaturity of a 34 weekers brain and reflexes. It was treated by just touching him to stimulate him a little and then they again put him on his stomach and he was fine. They can also help to keep him stimulated to breathing by putting on the nasal cannulas which they did today off and on and we were told they are just delivering normal air to him, not oxygen, as its being used more of a constant stimulus than anything else. The doctor says it is very minor and he expects him to pull out of it on his own in a few days thus he is holding off for now on putting him on caffeine to stimulate him which would be the next step routinely used, but once they start the caffeine they don’t pull them off again until they have tapered it for at least 10 days (I know I dont like someone cutting off my daily coffee cold turkey either!) and they dont think he will need it that long as he is doing so well so they are just giving him a few days to get the hang of everything and gain a little more maturity.

As easy as the actual c section was for me, the 18 hrs that followed proved to be equally as difficult. I got sick a few times after being moved to recovery and had violent shakes for about 2 hours that kept my pulse rate up. I finally got approved to go back to join my family in my room about 2 hours later feeling a little better but still very delusional and sleepy from the meds. We requested to come back to our same room instead of being moved to post partum and that was really nice to come home to! With c sections, the epidural and catheter is left in for additional assistance the following day so I wasnt in tremendous pain but I just was not handling the IV medicine and epidural anesthesia well at all. The night went as okay as expected I guess and I got started pumping- trying my hardest to learn how and stay alert enough to do so. Of course I was constantly woken up to continuously  take all my vitals as I had a late surgery too but by 7 am I was so anxious to finally be approved to get up and go visit my babies in the NICU but I guess I  pushed myself a little to much after surgery, bedrest for 3 months, and not eating for 20 hrs and I caught myself blacking out getting ready (lucky I had a nurse, a nurse tech and Josh all with me helping me get back in bed). Finally around noon I was approved to eat real food and by 3pm I was determined to feel better so I told the nurse to take out everything, the catheter, epidural, and IV pain meds and just hoped I was making the right call to start feeling better and feel more like myself. Sure enough I was soon after enjoying getting up and walking around a little and didnt find myself in any more pain than before thankfully so I guess I just cant take all the hardcore meds well.  Today Ive been up and walking my milk down to the NICU after pump sessions and it’s felt amazing to be able to walk around again!. Sure my stomachs a little sore but not near as bad as I had anticipated and things are only getting easier to do now. Ive been approved to leave either tomorrow or Monday and can you believe that after all this time on bedrest I requested to stay the extra day, haha! It will be nice to have a place to come back and rest for one more day with the boys staying here anyways and I really find comfort in my room now as its all Ive known for 3 months. It is filled with many beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers from so many supporting friends and family who have been anticipating this day as much as us so it is now our pleasant retreat.

The boys are predicted to stay at least an extra 2 weeks after I go home as it is expected by caloric calculations to take at least that long to get Carter up to the weight they approve to leave the hospital regardless of how well he is doing otherwise. I look forward to getting everyting prepared for them, maybe even do some pinterest projects for them I have been pinning all these months on bed rest :), and hope I dont miss them too much!   I know they will be in excellent hands, likely be on a helpful schedule when we leave,  and I’ll will still be coming to feed, hold, and spend time with them each day. We should still take them home before their actual due date so Im just trying to look at it in that light but Im gonna miss my precious boys for sure these next few days!

Here are some pictures all from delivery day… I know some are a little graphic but I find the surgery pictures absolutely moving and spiritual as it apparent both boys literally entered this world praising God with their hands lifted to the heavens.

Love to all,

Elissa, Josh, Carter and Brody Norris

Day 74…Final update before delivery!

Day 74…Final update before delivery!

We have set an official birthday for the boys! Friday July 27th the boys are set to enter this world at 34 weeks! We had our last scan this morning and Baby A is weighing in at 3lb 4 oz now and still looks healthy even with his placenta pooping out on him slowing his growth. As 36 weeks is considered full term for twins, 34 weeks has been an excellent point to get them to so we will deliver a little early to allow him to start packing on more weight by eating like a big boy. Baby B measured in at 4lb 2 oz and both boy’s fluids levels and Doppler’s looked good. They have also continued to look beautiful during our round the clock monitoring which we have been so pleased with! I got our booster steroid shot today and we have begun slowly weaning me off the Magnesium today as well, set to be off it completely by Wednesday. There is still the chance I will go into labor with its removal since my cervix has thinned and started to dilate (weeks ago) so they might use Terbutaline to control my contraction intensity if needed, however,  my doctor sees no benefit in loading us with additional medicine at this point with everything going on just to get one or two days which aren’t critical days any more so unless the meds are ordered by an overnight on call doctor because the contractions are getting painful we will not attempt to hold off labor this week should it arise and will just happily go to delivery at my body’s call, still by cesarean. It’s going to be an exciting week!!!

I wanted to share my final bump pictures with everyone as we are mere days away now. I am so appreciative that I had some family who came up to give me a facial and highlight and trim my hair last week in my room (which was SOOOOO needed) and my best friend Stacey and I had fun trying to get some good last bump shots! I have really noticed this baby bump growing daily over the past 2 weeks and while bed rest and always laying down has kept away most of the typical pregnancy pains usually experienced, this past week I have definitely experienced my share of jabs in my ribs, hips, difficulty breathing even reclined back, and very awkward feelings of babies lodging in random places with each twist or turn. I cant imagine how uncomfortable I would be if I was sitting up and moving around a lot during the day-especially with my lungs having no where to expand anymore with these two boys having taken over my entire abdomen.

Many friends and family have started asking what we can expect for the boys now after delivery. This is what we know… Babies born between 32-36 weeks have fully developed and functioning organs-praise the Lord! ….and do terrific! There is still unpredictability within this age group at how much ‘assistance’ they may need with basic functions due to their prematurity (Some 32 weekers do better than other 36 weekers if you catch my drift)… but weight isn’t really a predictor either as many times it’s the little one who come out the biggest fighters! So we will have to wait and see how much help they will want.
What we can expect is that in the very least the boys will be admitted to the NICU after delivery and will need to stay around 2 weeks to grow a bit more (usually till they are 36wk gestation). They will be watched closely to make sure they are able to eat enough to gain the proper weight-and this will likely determine the length of their stay as its one of the biggest tasks they will have to pass before going home. Other very common, but minor, difficulties 34 week preemies experience we will likely deal with are jaundice, difficulty maintaining body temperature, and possibly apnea spells. Of course, the lungs are the biggest unknown of how much assistance they will need-but the awesome news is the type of assistance they would now need at 34 weeks is usually very minor if any- usually CPAP or even better just the nasal cannulas which simply oxygenate the air they breathe. We have been told to expect them to have temporary labored breathing the first 24-48 hrs simply because they will still have fluid in their lungs from being born by cesarean so that combined with being 34 wk preemies the NICU will almost certainly postpone actual bottle/breast feedings for a few days to let the boys get the hang of just breathing first. This is because the feeding process of breathing, sucking, AND swallowing is a very coordinated job for the boys to process immediately at 34 weeks so we will ‘baby them’ and introduce them slowly to the concept in the days following birth. Josh and I feel very prepared for these minor setbacks compared to what we had initially prepared for and it will hopefully be a short, pampered NICU stay for the boys that will give me a few days to recover from surgery, regain a little stamina, and get the nursery all set to bring the boys home within days of me going home.

I will also get to work immediately at becoming a well functioning milk factory for these boys to help them even more! I have been well educated that a very aggressive pumping schedule will be necessary to establish my milk supply for twins without the stimulus of my hungry boys latched on so I will be very busy right away working with the slurpy machine every two hours-oh I cant wait ;)!! The great news is the boys will be fed my liquid gold breast milk right from the start, which will make all the work well worth it as I know how vital it is for preemies.

So…because of this aggressive pumping schedule plus Josh and I spending a lot of time with the boys in the NICU in between, we have been told that we will not be spending much time in our room after delivery and that its probably smart to not plan on having a lot of visitors at the hospital to see just Josh and I in the days after delivery so that the babies can dictate our schedule. The NICU strictly limits visitors to parents and grandparents only for traffic control/contamination purposes so we will do our very best to introduce the boys to all our other family and friends via pictures immediately and will look forward to them meeting all their loving visitors when we all go home together soon!!

After 10 full weeks on hospitalized bedrest it is slightly overwhelming to think of how busy my life is about to be, but I’m ready! I can honestly say to anyone reading this who may ever have to be on bedrest that both my husband and I have agreed all along, and still do with experience, that the hospital is the place to be if bedrest is a must. Here I have been able to focus each day 100% on simply getting the boys one day further at a time and I really think if I was laying in bed at home all day like I do here, especially being the extremely active busy body I am, that I would have gone INSANE in the first WEEK thinking about all the other things I should or could have been doing around the house. Here there are no everyday distractions or temptations, I get fresh sheets on my bed daily, my room moped and scrubbed daily, I custom order my meals and don’t have to worry about groceries or dishes or burden my husband with them. I have round the clock people popping in and out to provide constant social interaction each day so that I haven’t really gotten bored or lonely and there are nurses waiting on me hand and foot! I cant imagine how much harder this would have been on Josh alone if he had to fill all these roles and I know I would have felt so much more guilt and stress just knowing what I had to pass off on him after a long days work. I guess the only scenario that might change things is if we had other children at home I was missing out on, which thank goodness we haven’t had to deal with that, but I can only think that that would make it even harder to do what’s best for the babies without guilt or remorse. This has all worked and has been relatively easy and we will have a lifetime to be thankful for what these mere 70 plus days have granted us!! I have made so many friends here that its going to be a little bittersweet leaving but I am so excited to start this next chapter of our life!

As THIS journey ends I just want to say thank you again to all. There is no denying that we have been so so blessed in getting the boys successfully to 34 weeks and I believe that all our friends, family, and friends of family who have formed a circle of prayer around us for the past 10 weeks have been a large part of why we have been so blessed. This experience has definitely made me learn a valuable lesson of truly stopping to APPRECIATE and thank the Lord each and every day for all the blessings, big and small, that I so commonly take for granted. Its amazing how many things there are to give thanks for each and every day-even in this position, and amazing how the Lord really does give us all the strength, love, and renewed spirit we need each and every day when we call upon him for help.

Its unfortunate that many times at least I, being the independent person I am, don’t let him show me this as I don’t seek him FIRST for daily support of all the small things and its not until the going gets REALLY tuff and I feel it is truly more than I can manage that I fall on him for support and allow him to show me how awesome he is. I know our relationship has been completely renewed by the extensive one on one time I have spent with him here in my room and by the deepest need to rely on him during this journey when nothing was in my control. Thank you God for putting me in this position to be awakened again and for graciously answering ALL my prayers! I have loved that the church Josh and I have attended for almost a year now streams their service online each Sunday such that I have been able to log in and still feel apart of the congregation and receive the weekly message. Yesterday’s service really spoke to me and related to this experience on all levels and I just wanted to leave by sharing the lessons and corresponding verses with all of you as I LOVED the message and think we could all stand to be reminded of this message from time to time. Enjoy and please keep us in your prayers during this exciting week for our family of four! Pictures of our little miracles, Brody and Carter, to come soon!
Lots of Love,
Elissa

Community of Faith Church-Time From God’s Perspective
“The Value of TODAY”

“What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears.” James 4:14

1. The Blessings of Today
God will daily show me the way
“You in your amazing compassion didn’t walk off and leave them in the desert. The Pillar of Cloud didn’t leave them; daily it continued to show them their route.” Nehemiah 9:19
God will daily pour out His love
“But each day the Lord pours His unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing His songs, praying to God who gives me life.” Psalm 42:8
God will daily give me strength
“…our strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew.” Psalm 110:3
God will daily renew my spirit
“Therefore we do not become discouraged – utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear. Though our outer man is progressively decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being progressively renewed day after day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
**(BOY, IS THIS APPLICABLE TO ME OR WHAT?!)**
God will daily teach me
“I am teaching you today—yes, you— so you will trust in the Lord.” Proverbs 22:19
***( YES, YOU HAVE, THANK YOU!)***
God will daily go before me
“But be assured today that the LORD your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire.” Deuteronomy 9:3

2. The Lie of Tomorrow ( meaning when we say ‘tomorrow’ we usually mean ‘Never’)
Believe Today
“Know and believe today that the Lord is God. He is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other god!” Deuteronomy 4:39
“Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts.” Hebrews 4:7
Commit Today
“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.” Deuteronomy 6:6
Obey Today
“Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today.”Deuteronomy 8:1

“But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey His commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.” Deuteronomy 8:11

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Day 65, 32 wk ultrasound update

And were still pushing forward… Right past 32 weeks! Last nights ultrasound gave us the information we needed to now have a tentative delivery plan, which being the planner I am helps to finally diminish the anxiety of all this unknown we’ve dealt with for months. The specialist made the call yesterday that she feels 34 weeks would be a great final last goal for the boys with only a very slim chance we would attempt to go further.

We started off the scan by confirming that baby A has indeed flipped back into head down position which means my cervical shortening should not pose any concern at this point, and I was granted wheelchair ride privileges to wherever my heart desires on “campus”… Hmm should I dare venture outside for the first time in over 2 months or would I have a heatstroke???

Baby A clocked in just a hair above the IUGR zone weighing 2#15 oz so looks like even with his aging placenta he will likely get past 3 lbs by delivery which is very exciting! His amniotic fluid levels and Doppler blood flow both started to show a little compromise due to the aging/weakening placenta but the specialist did not feel it was at a critical point that prompted immediate delivery so we are pushing for a few more days of stability in his vital signs and will just start monitoring the boys even more in my room… Were now on a stricter ’round the clock’ schedule of 1 hr monitoring every 6 hours so I have 4-5 hr freedom breaks in between sessions. Thus my mommy sleep deprivation officially started last night as I get fully awakened in the middle of the night to be put on the fetal monitor but I feel good knowing we are keeping a very close eye on our little peanut in these final days!

Our new little heavy weight champion, baby b, clocked in at 3lb 12 oz so is he is still on track with his growth, almost a pound bigger than his brother now! The little wiggle worm has managed to wrap his cord around his neck twice ( which we only discovered by accident trying relentlessly to get a good 4D picture of him, no telling how long it has been like that). And while this sure scares daddy and I, our specialist didn’t seem too concerned about it and said it happens a lot, most just never know till delivery if ever… And anyone who knows our specialist knows she loves to overly dramatize anything and everything she is concerned about so if she isn’t concerned with it then really we shouldn’t be either I guess… Definitely one advantage to having her as our specialist! Combine this with the fact we are already going to monitor them closely, it seems she is still much more concerned with keeping an eye on baby A still. It’s times like this evening I am so happy we have such a great specialist who is so open/transparent in her concerns and has such a great 6th sense and devotion to these babies.

The likely delivery plan if the daily fetal monitoring remains stable will be to have another ultra sound next sunday/ monday. If all these trends continue with baby A (as they are expected to), we will plan for a very scheduled out c-section right at 34 weeks…around July 26/27. We will have enough time that week after the scan to discontinue the magnesium to get it out of our systems ( since it just makes the babies a little lazy at birth otherwise) and administer a booster steroid shot to help the boys lungs secrete extra surfactant (as contrary to most’s knowledge the steroids only help if they are given within the 1-2 week period from actual delivery- thus the steroids we got at 23 weeks have no effect/ help any longer). We are definitely at a point now though that if before then there is any sign of stress on the boys during a monitoring session we won’t worry with these planned “luxury” steps and just deliver immediately. With the lower baby being the smaller baby now, a c-section is imminent for us but I’m fine with this as honestly after much research it really seems the safer route for almost all twins regardless so at least I don’t have to make the final call and chance delivering “one each way”( if you catch my drift.)

As for me, I am out of my little “pity” funk I had a few days last week it seems… A week full of extra visitors and now a final countdown of just around 12 DAYS has me in good spirits, anxious to meet these precious boys. It’s been a crazy journey that’s for sure… Very different being monitored so closely knowing every last detail about whats going on inside with these boys as opposed to other pregnancies where the last ultrasound is at 20 weeks thus all these little things we have been discovering since 22 weeks go on unnoticed- for better or worse I guess.

I will update everyone when we set a actual delivery date! Just praying now for our fairy tale ending to this journey with a safe delivery and short, relatively eventless NICU stay for the boys! Love y’all!

Day 56, 31 Weeks!

Yep, we are still all here! For starters I wanted to share the information we got from our 30 week ultrasound scan we had a few days ago. Basically in terms of my cervix (the reason that got us here)-we dont know much more info because we are avoiding manual cervical examinations (since it wouldnt change anything management wise and it could possibly irritate the uterus). Thru ultrasound we still just see it is really thin and has started to dilate- nothing new around here but hey, its held out 8 weeks so whats a few more right?
We did discover some new news during the ultrasound exam however. Baby B-the higher baby who has always been the slightly smaller one, has now passed the 3 lb mark and outgrown his brother for the first time! Baby A-the lower baby, however, appears to have really slowed down growth wise since 28 weeks when he was still average size which indicates that his placenta is (yes in the doctors words) “pittering” out early which-Yep you guessed it, is MORE COMMON IN TWINS!! Sheesh…. I have always been amazed at how miraculous it is that we women have the ability to create a human being but I now realize exactly why everyone has made such a big deal about being pregnant with twins… it truly is a miraculous feat to grow not just one but TWO little humans at once and it makes complete sense now that I was ‘stamped’ as High Risk since day 1 ! For those of you keeping track of our high risk/twin complications-we have still escaped the dreaded gestational diabetes and preeclampsia/hypertension that is more prominent in twin pregnancies so we can sing praises for these blessings-not to mention being one week away from 32 weeks which is a MAJOR accomplishment for a multiples pregnancy!

So back to baby A (Oh and by the way-you can blame my Joshua for not deciding which baby we will call which yet… I think he is holding out to meet them first). Given this information on Baby A, we have increased the amount of time we monitor the babies daily in my room… going from 30 minutes twice a day to 1 hr 3 times a day- and while being strapped down in bed to 3 monitors this much is not fun it certainly is well worth it to be able to continuously check in to how the boys are doing thru out the day.

Ironically, my contractions have really decreased for about the last 3 weeks now-I only have about 2-3 an hour which is below what they would ‘expect’ even so that has been great! The babies are now our primary daily focus here in the hospital and the fetal heart rate monitoring we do daily tells the doctors alot… much more than I realized initially! They can ensure that even with the weakening placenta for baby A, that he is still healthy and getting the oxygen and blood flow he needs and that he is not in distress. The new plan is to continue closely monitoring the boys daily and start doing ultrasounds weekly to gain additional info and just drain everything we can out of this placenta these last few days/weeks.
Baby A has not yet fell into the percentile group that diagnoses him as having IUGR (Intra Uterine Growth Restriction) but the scan next Friday at 32 weeks will give us a lot more data and possibly show a trend that could very well put him in that category. It is likely unavoidable and there is nothing we can do that Im not already doing and the doctor assured me that even trying to eat 5,000 calories a day or adding in 5 protein shakes would not make any difference in baby A’s growth/weight gain so at least I know Im doing all I can for these boys! The specialist says that the good news, other than us already being to 31 weeks now, is that baby A still isn’t demonstrating signs of distress and fluid levels and blood flow thru the cord still are normal so although they want to keep a close eye on him he is still doing well even with this weakening placenta and we have high hopes of reaching our BIG 32 week goal in 7 days! As I said, we will re-evaluate next Friday and take it day by day after which to make the best call for the boys on when its time for their arrival. The specialist hopes we will be able to stretch this out to somewhere between 32-34 weeks but after 32 weeks if we see baby A starting to show distress it may be better just to bring him into this world a little early intentionally and let him fight on his own with the NICU’s help since he may have reached a point that he is stronger himself than his placenta.

Wow, its after posts like this I wonder who out there is still hanging on to all this information I dump in my updates and who is totally lost or bored by all this crazy medical stuff… One things for sure, this entire process is absolutely miraculous and really makes you appreciate life, medicine, technology, and our bodies abilities-And most importantly how awesome our God really is! It also makes me appreciate my choice of sticking to eyeballs as this obstetric field is most accurately just an unpredictable waiting game!

Now, to be completely honest, life here in room 3004 has finally gotten well… BORING! For the first time I have REALLY started to struggle with feeling completely out of reality, like I’m just mearly ‘existing’ here as a human incubator. Its weird because now we really are in the final home stretch where we can literally count down our days left yet I feel more than ever like Ill never leave this place for some reason, go figure. Im trying my hardest to not throw myself a daily pity party and to realize that this journey is winding down but after two months of staring at the same walls, laying in the same bed, and watching the same tv shows I really think I am finally going looney! Don’t worry, I realize its time for me to just strap on my big girl panties (HA-quite literally these days), and keep doing what needs to be done laying here keeping my legs crossed ;) in hopes of getting us as far into this month of July as we can! Thank goodness I have more loved ones who are getting together tomorrow to throw me a little shower OUTSIDE of my room this time (there is a party room just across the hall from me so nothing too crazy but definitely an adventure these days). Everyone has been so amazing in showing their support, offering their words, prayers, cards, time, and gifts of encouragement and I am very thankful as I cant even imagine doing this without a support group like we have! I will try to update everyone if anything changes or after our ultrasound next Friday! Please keep the boys in your prayers and add in a few for my mental strength to push thru these last weeks!

Day 39, ultrasound update

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This past saturday we had our 28 week ultrasound. The good news was the boys looked great and measured 2 lb 8 oz (A) and 2 lb 5 oz (B) which is still falling right at average weight! We discovered Baby A has turned breech which I had suspected earlier in the week because my stomach changed shape and I had not one bulge but TWO big budges visible when my stomach contracted- their heads!! Oh the fun shapes my stomach takes on these days now, it’s quite amusing.

The not so fabulous news was that the inevitable finally happened and my cervix has now thinned to the point that we suspect it has started to dilate. Without doing a internal cervical exam, the specialist estimated by ultrasound that my cervix is likely about 2 to 3 cm dilated now. She did not seem overly concerned by this new measurement necessarily as I think its just par for the course weve been on and she is really happy we made it to this stage in the pregnancy with the twins before getting here. Basically this finding will not change anything as the specialist said we are doing as good as we can do being on the mag and bedrest while still keeping my health in mind. She decided to not change anything ( meaning we will not be lowering the mag) but she felt that trying to keep contractions at 6/hr is the best we can do considering the irritability expected with the twins getting big now and thus she does not feel we need to increase any meds to slow or stop contractions all together as long as they remain painless. However, now that that cushion is no longer there I definitely FEEL for the first time like we are treading unknown territory as both doctors say its still unknown whether we could meet these boys at any day or still be laying here over a month from now and delivering at 34-36 weeks.

We rediscussed the overall plan: if I do go into true labor before 34 weeks I will be given a second round of steroids to help the boys lungs and they will administer max meds to try to stop or delay labor. After 34 weeks they will take me off mag and won’t try to stop labor should it arise.

The other factor coming into play here is the amniotic sac. With a thinned cervix and a breech lower baby we are more likely to have a premature ruptured membrane (“water breaking”) during a baby kick or contraction. Basically if that happens it won’t change anything unless there is a cord prolapse into the birth canal. If that happens we will undergo emergency c section delivery of both boys. If the amniotic sac breaks but baby A, not the cord, drops to cover the birth canal it just means they will put me on antibiotics and start monitoring the babies more frequently-but, contrary to what the books and internet say they do not deliver the babies right away. In fact there are actually quite a few girls here right now in the antepartum unit whose bag of waters broke weeks or months ago yet their babies are still growing just fine and they still have bathroom and even wheelchair privileges.

After hitting the 28 wk mark I found myself resetting my thinking to our long term goals but I was reminded saturday how beneficial each and every day still is and the need to still focus on our short term goals. Although I had hoped for 4 lb babies since first learning I was pregnant with twins and learning how that changed pregnancies, I would now feel so blessed to get these boys to at least 3 lbs and get to the 30 wk mark… So please pray for at least a few more days to make this happen!

So my specific prayer requests at his time are:
1. That my cervix stop changing and halt in its tracks where it’s at. (I think as long as its below a four or five it commonly halts in its tracks for days or weeks even.)
2. Protection from ruptured membranes- specifically one that allows the cord to fall in the canal and lead to an emergency delivery.
3. Help from above to not lay in this bed thinking about these possibilities but to instead rely on God to guide me and protect us thru whatever his birthing plan may be.
” Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
I am constantly reminding myself over the past weeks that time spent fearing and worrying are only times of SELF PRAYER and actions of those without faith, that as faithful christians we instead should turn all these concerns and moments of wasted energy to God and pray to our one and true savior and redeemer who has plans for us that we cannot predict, control, nor see.

So yesterday my optometry girlfriends came to throw me a little shower in my room which I REALLY enjoyed. They brought balloons, sausage cheese balls (one of my faves which always reminds me of my dad-a nice celebration on this fathers day), fruit, and the best bakery cookies that had the boys names scripted on them. They made the cutest safari diaper cake too! It has been so fun opening up all the cute tiny outfits and baby gadgets that I am not able to go out and shop for!! Thinking of me, the girls even went together and also got me a nice baby trailer for my bike which I can’t wait to use after these weeks of bedrest- All this after thoughtfully going out shopping on their own to get me 4 new fun colored maternity shirts to spice up my hospital attire since I have refused to lay around in a hospital gown since the second day I’ve been here!
My Seiler family shower Thursday was also very enjoyable and the boys were showered with lots of adorable matching outfits and essentials. My brother and sister in law brought huge cardboard printed signs to hang on the room door and above the bed announcing I’m expecting twins and the nurses and I LOVE them. Actually my room in general is so filled now with balloons, flowers, decorations, and diaper cakes that it’s hard not to lay here and just feel incredibly blessed and loved by those supporting us and routing us on! I am glad we decided to not worry about replanning the big shower with all the unknowns we deal with now because having these little celebrations in my room instead has been so nice and I love having something to look forward to! Thanks friends for all! Love, Elissa

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Day 35, 28 weeks!

We made it!! I could not feel more relieved and happy to have made this major 28 week mark today. I hope and pray the boys still have more weeks of developing before entering this world but anyone who has ever had a high risk pregnancy knows exactly how good if feels to reach this 28 week mark! Honestly, the Lord has continually left me assured along this journey that I did not need to worry about not reaching this point but it is so nice to not be viewed any longer as “major concern” by the nurses and doctors as we have entered the much safer zone for delivery! It is definitely time to “reset” our thinking though as for so long everyone just talked about getting us to 28 weeks that’s it seems at first we are done… Yet in reality that is not the case.

I know its been a long time since I posted an update but really it’s just because I didn’t want to bore anyone as, fortunately, not much has changed around here other than my bump size! I’ve remained stable with the same meds and conditions, some days having more active contractions than others but nothing necessarily concerning anymore now that we know it’s just my body’s way of reacting to these growing boys… The nurses say someone just forgot to send my uterus the memo that there are TWO babies in there!

So what’s ahead for us?? Well God still hasnt quite let me in on his plan for Brody and Carter’s arrival although I keep asking!!! …but at least he has been very helpful with filling me with more patience than I ever knew I had. My specialist is still shooting for an ultimate goal of 34 weeks and my OB told me yesterday she has started thinking we just may surprise everyone and go all the way to full term 36/37 weeks which will be our original mid August expected arrival date! If I remain pregnant, I will go home by 34 weeks and possibly as soon as 32 weeks to live out the last possible days in the comfort of my home (and possibly oversee getting that nursery ready!)

So the next big goal for all the doctors including the neonatal specialist (babies doctor) is 32 weeks which would really help to cut down on the stay and amount of help the babies will need in the NICU. 32 weeks is the final ‘big’ goal set for multiples deliveries and each week thereafter is considered a huge success worth doing cartwheels to celebrate (Ill let y’all do the cartwheels for me for now ;) I am personally shooting for 34 weeks which is just 6 weeks away so I am finally starting a countdown of days left!! It really doesn’t seem far at all when I think of how much our lives will forever change just 6-8 weeks from now- gosh I’m getting nervous yet excited just typing this!

Its motivating to realize that at this point I can truly view each of these final days I spend laying in the hospital as a day that these boys won’t have to spend with tubes and wires in the NICU. Ive accepted I will spend every day of June and July this year at woman’s hospital and it’s just a matter of if it’s josh visiting me afterwork to laugh and watch a movie or if its us coming up here daily together to see our boys having to fight for themselves -yes I am more than appreciative to be able to lay here and keep fighting for these boys!

I am up for ultrasound today or tomorrow again and that update will dictate if my specialist wants to try to pull me off the magnesium so I will keep everyone posted. I’m really looking forward to celebrating tonight with all my Seiler/Davis family members who are coming to party in my room and shower Brody and Carter with their early birthday gifts-We are all so blessed!

Today my family is mourning the unexpected loss of a dear family member so I ask y’all to please keep my Schlitzkus family in your prayers as well …Uncle Butch you will be missed, rest in peace!

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Day 22, 26w1d

“For I am the Lord your God, who takes your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

We celebrated hitting the 26 week mark yesterday with getting a look at our boys on 3D ultrasound, which we had highly anticipated all week. It was our first real look at how much the boys have grown since we were admitted here and the specialist seemed very happy with the entire examination. The boys now weigh in at 1 lb 14oz and 1lb 10 oz which puts them staying right on track at average size, yay! It’s exciting to know they will likely pass the 2 lb mark sometime this week as babies usually pack on 1/4 lb a week at this stage in development. Of course I was also anxious to get an update on how my cervix was looking and although it had thinned slightly more over the past 2 weeks to about 1.8cm the specialist was pleased that it was still closed and we were still holding on so well and now at 26 weeks! It was easy to see that she was more relaxed in managing a 1.8 cm cervix length now at 26 weeks than she liked seeing a cervix thinned to 2 cm cervix at 23 weeks.

Making this 26 week mark has meant a lot to me personally as I have a cousin who was forced into an emergency delivery of her first born due to developing severe pre-eclampsia virtually overnight. Although it was a terrifying turn of events and left them with months of worrisome days in the NICU, their fragile 1 lb 7 oz girl is now a beautiful, intelligent, perfectly healthy seven year old whom one would never guess made her entrance the way she did. These last three blessed weeks have given our boys time to make a few last big changes in overall development. The ears and eyes are much more developed now, the eyes are no longer fused shut, and their skin is much less fragile as they are now growing the thicker layer of the skin. Now it’s finally time to really chunk them up as they begin to add fat under their skin and I am working really hard to help them with this by focusing all my energy on getting in all these calories daily and have really enjoyed the ease of adding Ensure’s Boost and Enlive drinks to help us get there since I just have no appetite or room to eat. ( hmm wonder if I can get payed for that plug?)

I still have constant contractions thru out the day that are variable on everything from me engaging my stomach muscles to turn or get up, talking, how much the boys are moving, or which side I’m laying on. They can range from every 2-3 minutes to just 1-2 an hour but are always non painful and we have found that we can just modify what I’m doing to try to get them to stop rather than needing to constantly rush into using terbutaline injections. So I have a large say in how we treat these contractions daily and the nurses are much more comfortable just asking my opinion on if we need to treat them because their feeling “more than normal for me” and everyone including myself is more relaxed now in knowing these contractions aren’t doing much and aren’t true labor contractions, I just seem to have a VERY active uterus muscle. Still my doctors don’t want to let it routinely get too excited and want me to try to stay under 6-7 contractions an hour till we get to 28 weeks and afterwards they say even as many as 10 an hour may be considered okay for me. So it has been a trying journey attempting to stay relaxed and patient with the Lords help as everyone determined what my body was doing and how we needed to treat it but the last three weeks have given us a good idea of where we are at and how to manage. The ‘mag’ is still an unknown on if, or how much, it may be helping but we will wait two more weeks till we attempt to see either way although it doesn’t bother me anymore and I’ve even gotten pretty accustomed to having an IV stuck in my arm now. I even decided to name my IV pole Mr. Magoo since he follows me everywhere and we spend so much time together these days!

Our memorial weekend was very enjoyable. Okay probably not the MOST fun ever but I definitely think it was the most productive memorial weekend ever as I spent it focusing on growing my two little mini-me’s! I let Josh off for some much deserved relaxing and fishing with his dad in Rockport while one of my best friends graciously spent her Saturday evening of memorial weekend keeping me company and then my sister and her boyfriend came down and played board games with me all day Sunday and Monday. Our parents also stopped in and showered me, Carter and Brody with more goodies and little pick me ups. Best yet, long weekends help the following week to go by quickly even when your spending it in the hospital! I hope everyone has a great start to their summer and thank everyone for their continued love, support, and prayers!
XOXO Elissa

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Day 15

25 weeks and counting!! Though we are still very early, it was an amazing feeling to see week 24 come and go. While there are many ‘miracle’ babies born daily at 23 and 24 weeks who survive and do well, statistics are not in your favor for long term health but the good news is we are now entering weeks associated with better and better statistics!!

After a long stretch of very quiet, uneventful days last week and over the weekend there was some debate between my two doctors as to what to do with my IV medication at this point. The Perinatal specialist, who is considered one of the most cautious/aggressively treating doctors here, had said from the start that she wanted to keep me at 1.75g/hr Mag till I got to 28 weeks to be safe due to my new history and twin pregnancy but my OB had told me she wanted to talk with her about the possibility of starting to lower me down slowly since there was ‘no clear evidence’ that it was doing anything at this point and since it carries a lot of unwanted side effects for me. The more I thought about which I would prefer, the more torn I was as I am willing to do ANYTHING at this point to earn us a few more weeks yet I know there are real risks for me with Mag we have to worry about, most concerning being the possibility of developing Pulmonary Edema. I started to worry about which decision they would make so I turned to prayer and begged God to ease my concerns and guide my doctors into making the right decision together for me and the boys. The next day, Tuesday, I started having more uterine activity/contractions in the evening again thus prompting the nurse to give me a Terbutaline injection-the first one needed in over a week, which immediately stopped all activity. Then the next morning I had 3 small contractions again within 30 minutes (which is basically just more than acceptable/normal) so the nurse went ahead and gave me another Terb injection and then again I got one last night… so the past 3 days I have needed one additional Terb injection a day to quiet down the small contractions that have popped up again so needless to say with this ‘new activity’ my OB agreed it was likely best now to continue with the specialists desire to stay were we are on the Mag to be safe. So although I felt a little disappointed that the contractions were slowly creeping back around the past 3 days, I honestly feel it was a sign from above guiding my doctors at this time and feel at peace with the decision that was made.

None of the doctors or nurses have appeared too hyped up about these recent small contractions, its pretty standard for them to give the terb injections the moment they feel there is a bit more activity than their comfortable with seeing and luckily one injection always does the trick even though they can give a round of 3 injections if needed before the situation is really viewed as ‘eventful’.The nurses assured me its pretty common to see the uterus act up like this for a few days and then quiet back down again on its own for days or even weeks. I have learned preterm contractions are extremely common in multiple pregnancies due to the amount and rate the uterus has to stretch- and they are more common when the multiple pregnancy is your first pregnancy since the uterus has never been stretched out before. I was told when the babies have a big growth spurt it can trigger the uterus to become irritated and start contracting which is likely what caused this new activity the past 3 days. The great news is that I can definitely tell and agree that we have had another big growth spurt this week, the bad news is that if we keep needing the Terb injections daily we will likely need to increase my amount of Mag.

Regarding the mag, I am just now beginning to feel like myself again. As my body has adapted to the medicine the side effects have (almost) completely disappeared and I am finally able to do some visual tasks like reading or logging onto my computer without getting a terrible headache or falling asleep. Along with becoming less lethargic though is the fact that days are not seeming to fly by anymore-guess you cant win them all! I just take one day at a time and countdown to our Thursday’s when we can celebrate another week.

We still stay pretty busy thru about 1 pm around here and then I usually get a good nap in and look forward to Josh or other visitors to get here after work every evening. Josh, I and the twins have mastered sharing my hospital bed to enjoy our evening TV shows or a movie and of course doctor prescribed ice cream. Sometimes I think he enjoys my new recommended milkshake diet and motorized bed a little too much :)

Please keep up the prayers as only God knows what the future holds for us. The doctor has told me at this point there is no way of predicting when or if I, or any of her patients for that matter, will go into true preterm labor which no amount of medication can stop when it happens. On the other hand, they handle many cases just like mine where the pregnancy continues on to 35, 36, even 37 week delivery of full term twins with the help of the modifications we have taken. Of course we are hoping for closer to the later but are still very appreciative of each passing day we get Brody and Carter a little further along and look forward to an ultrasound this week to see exactly how much the boys have grown since we’ve been here!

Life on bedrest, Day 9

So as promised today I want to share a little about what our little situation is like here at the hospital. As I am now considered stable I am in my permanent ante partum room here at the Woman’s Hospital of Texas. I say permanent because as long as we dont have any other major episodes of contractions I will likely be in this very room until I deliver. We have worked to make it start feeling like home by getting the basic things Ill need daily here and so many of my friends and family have done such a great job at making sure I have some things to feel pampered and girly as well, I am really one lucky girl! We have stayed very busy each day so far, in fact I really don’t get much sleep even as we don’t wrap up my evening monitoring session till around 11-12 pm each night and then unfortunately I get awakened every 2 hours for medication, IV bag switching, or vital signs. I think they are gonna work on getting the medication timings to fall at the same times at night though as they really work to get us ante partum ladies as comfortable as possible in hopes that all our little babies catch on.

I now am on full time bed rest with bathroom privileges including a seated shower every other day so all in all it’s not bad at all and I cherish being able to do things like brush my teeth at the sink, stand to stretch out (really quickly)or shower and brush my hair out. We have had so many visitors already which has made this experience great in a way because when else would I get to sit down (okay lay down ;) and visit with so many friends and family in person all in the same week! I am still on the same low dose, 1.75 g/hr, of IV Mag but have not needed any terbutaline injections since Sunday night. I now only have to do monitoring twice a day, which means I don’t have to lay around all day with three different monitors hooked up to my stomach tracking me and babies every move, which is really nice. We monitor the babies for 30 minutes twice a day and then monitor for contractions 30 minutes twice a day. The last two days my contraction monitoring has looked great in that I haven’t really even shown uterine irritability ( kind of like mini contractions). They say some irritability is expected at this point in a twin pregnancy simply because I have 2 little wiggle worms in there, even a couple non painful contractions a hour are ‘normal’. I am really good at picking up on contractions now without the monitor, even the small Braxton H ones and occasionally have one if I’m laying flat on my back like I have to do when we monitor the babies but that’s been it thankfully. We may try to go down to 1.5 mag on Monday if all is going well still which I look forward to as I still have a constant dull headache and come and go nausea from the level I’m at now-oh and I still prefer to keep my room at 65 degrees from the flushing it causes.

So about our twin boys, Carter and Brody. The lower twin,baby a, finds himself comfortable snuggling right against mommys bladder and pelvic bone…so he is riding really low which is likely why we have seen the cervical shortening-due to his weight constantly pressing right on my cervix. The specialist says he looks like mom cause he has my shorter nose when we view on 3Dultrasound. Our last big ultrasound at 23 weeks weighed him in right on target at 1lbs 2 oz. While he is a wiggle worm, he is no competition to his brother who appears to be doing his kickboxing 24/7. The doctor says Baby b looks like daddy in that he has a more straight structured nose. He takes up my entire abdomen making use of the entire space for his exercise routines. He has always weighed in as just a hair smaller, which in my “expert” medical opinion makes complete sense since he exercises so much ;) I mean, who wouldn’t have some uterine irritability when it’s being used as a punching bag right? So when I said we monitor the babies heartbeats for 30 minutes twice a day, well it’s more like a hour or longer by the time we find a good angle that we can keep baby b strapped on the monitor at and even still he manages to run away mid session and we have to start all over. So while baby b looks like daddy, daddy says he takes after mommy who ran the Houston half marathon this year 6 weeks pregnant ( don’t worry I intentionally ran slower) and continued to do Crossfit with the mommy-to-be modifications up until 19 weeks.

Speaking of which, I have already had a physical therapist and dietician come to visit me. One might think the dietician was coming to put me on a healthy diet but nope, she came to discuss with me in her words, how to really “fatten me up” while she can over the next 4 weeks because she says by the time I reach 28 weeks the twins will have smushed my stomach to a pancake with no room for food and so we need to get it in while we can. She wants me on a high fat, 3000 calorie a day diet-to which my jaw dropped to the ground at. I mean any other time in my life would I probably love someone advising me to drink milkshakes with at least two scoops of ice cream every evening and add butter or full fat dressing to everything but honestly I have been forcing myself to eat what I felt was a normal amount already since I’ve been here as the medicine takes away any appetite, leaves me nauseous, and on top of that I eat laying down so I constantly feel stuffed or have indigestion! So really I have come to dislike meal times when I have to make a decision on what I will eat when nothing sounds good and then proceed to keep eating even when I’m full, but I guess God is just teaching me what it’s going to be like doing everything I can for the sake of my children. Don’t get me wrong the food is absolutely great here and the selection is wonderful,it’s just that I don’t think my usual hearty appetite followed me here to the hospital so if someone sees it please send it my way so I can ENJOY my cookies and ice cream!!

Well tomorrow was supposed to be our first baby shower which I was really looking forward to. I had thought we scheduled it early intentionally but it looks like we were not early enough. So sadly we have had to cancel it for now but we really hope we can reschedule it somehow even if it means having it at the hospital in a reserved room in a few weeks when I have wheelchair ride privileges.

Thanks for all the continuous prayers, please continue to ask for ‘many more days of the same’ for us as we are all managing quite well. As one of my friends who went thru this exact same thing with her twins a few months ago reminded with me when she came to visit…

“God will test us all to see how far we can bend, but he will not let us break”

Well, fortunately he created me to be one flexible woman so to that I say, AMEN! Love y’all!

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