Archive for October, 2011

Rooting for some hand

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

When it’s time to burp a full-term infant, you can generally lift them to your shoulder and tap their backs to help them burp. But preemies don’t come out strong enough for that approach. Instead, you sit their bum in your lap, support their head and neck by holding their jaw with your thumb and forefinger and chest with the palm of one hand, and tap their back with your other hand.

We’ve done that at every feeding for 2-1/2 weeks, but in the last few days, the girls have added a cute new twist. Now when we burp them, Sam and Cate both have a “rooting” reflex and sufficient neck strength to lift their heads briefly, turn, and flop back down positioned to suck on our hands. So adorable!

In the morning?

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Several of the Parenting Books advocate that one shower first thing every morning, because it contributes to a sense of normalcy, and one might not otherwise get the chance.

Now that we routinely wake at midnight, 3 am, 6 am, 9 am, etc., and we’re exhausted each time, I’m wondering what constitutes “first thing in the morning”?

Up close with Samantha and Catherine

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

I have a fast (f1.4) 50 mm Nikkor lens that I think of as a “portrait” lens. It has a huge aperture that lets in lots of light for super sharp images. I like it a lot.

Three years ago, I got some great newborn photos of Emma, Cindy and Paul’s older daughter. Last week, I started trying to figure out when I could shoot good photos of our daughters. (It tells you how sick I was that our girls were more than a week old before I even contemplated photographing them with more than a point-and-shoot.) But then I couldn’t figure out when to do it. Our bedroom gets great morning light, but mornings have been an exhausted time around here lately.

Fortunately, our friends Nicole and Brandon gifted us with a night of their night nanny. Stacy came over Friday night around 8 pm, freeing Bill and me to sleep in the living room (on the couch and futon, respectively), for as long as we could manage to sleep. What an amazing gift! While it didn’t undo all of our accumulated sleep debt, it sure helped us be a lot more rested Saturday morning… which allowed me the energy to shoot these (click for larger):

Sam
Sam, 11 days old

Sam
Sam

Cate
Cate, 11 days old

Cate
Cate

Bill and I recognize that we’re utterly biased, but we think they’re adorable. Enjoy!

Homecoming!

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

On October 17, Samantha, Catherine, and I were all discharged from the hospital, just six days after they were born. After gathering my stuff and looting the isolettes for Medline blankets, Bill loaded us in the Yeti and brought us home.

How dedicated a dad is Bill? Before this important trip, he put his local cycling experience to work plotting a novel route home from the hospital almost entirely on smooth, pothole-free, newly-reconstructed Houston streets. My abdomen appreciated his effort, and the girls slept all the way home.

Our friends, Adra and Gene, were waiting at home for us with Tibbs to help us unload and get settled in. Gene snapped these photos when we arrived (click for larger):

arrival

home

Bill, Cate, Bob, and Sam
Bill, Cate, Bob, and Sam

Bob, Sam, Cate, and Adra
Bob, Sam, Cate, and Adra

By 10:15 pm, the girls were sound asleep in their new cribs. Diapers had been changed at home, feedings had been done at home, the dishwasher was running to clean a load of bottles, and the last load of laundry was drying with baby gear. There was — and is — still a boatload of stuff to sort and put away, but that will wait for another day.

Getting online again

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

For the last three weeks, I’ve only peeked at internet bits via my iPhone, which is better than no internet at all, but limited. As a touch-typer, I’m particularly tired of the tiny virtual keyboard. I’ve been eager to break out my laptop and looking forward to Doing Something — uploading baby photos, adding requests to our Lotsa Helping Hands website, blogging, reading email — or doing anything, really.

However, Sam and Cate only sleep for about 2-1/2 hours between diapering/feeding sessions, and that’s our only time to sleep, eat, and pee. There are dishes and loads of new laundry to do. And… and…

And since I’m trying to grow my breast milk supply enough to feed both of them, I have to pump for 30 minutes during each of those time windows, too. I expected to be able to blog while pumping, but I find that I can express a lot more milk if I focus on baby thoughts and refrain from multitasking. All of that means I’ve been thinking about getting online without actually finding time or energy to do so.

But we had a breakthrough last night: the girls went 3-1/2 hours twice, and 3 hours once. That means we got 7 hours sleep, albeit in 2-1/2 hour chunks, and we’re slightly more rested as a result. So here I am on the internet. Woo-hoo!

With my laptop booted, my email inbox greeted me with this:

2,148 unread messages
Way too many unread email messages

Ugh. To be fair, only 300+ of those messages warrant review. And by the time I deleted all the extraneous ones, I didn’t actually have time/energy to read the real ones. So if you’ve sent me email in the last three weeks, please continue to assume that I haven’t read it. Because the girls will wake soon, and I’m determined to post a few photos first.

What a long strange 12 days it’s been…

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

A lot has happened in the last two weeks:

  • Oct 7 – Readmitted to hospital with pre-eclampsia (dangerous, pregnancy-induced hypertension)
  • Oct 10 – Scheduled for cesarean section the next morning
  • Oct 11 – Water broke, Samantha and Catherine delivered (34 weeks and 6 days) at 8:10 am. I hemorhaged for 4-5 hours and lost 2 1/2 liters of blood but survived, and with all my parts intact
  • Oct 12 – both girls graduated from IVs to eating
  • Oct 16 – both girls graduated from heated isolettes to open cribs
  • Oct 17 – all three of us were deemed healthy enough to go home, so we did

Today is day 3 of our (somewhat chaotic, or incredibly simple, depending on your perspective) new life at home together as a family of four. There’s a lot I want to say about the last two weeks, especially the not-dying part, as much for my memory as for you to read. I also have a couple of cute photos and videos of our tiny girls. I think you’ll enjoy those.

Now that I have a hands-free pumping bustier, and 6-10 pumping sessions a day, I aspire to fire up my laptop and revisit the world of internet. But in the meantime, let me just say thanks for all of the support and encouragement (and stuff) we’ve received during the last month. We truly couldn’t do this without you.

Love,
Bob

Fertnal: When I asked for a second hospital tour…

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

… I was thinking it would be nice to revisit Woman’s Hospital and review the lay of the land before we had to come “for real” in a few more weeks. Two admissions in six days is *not* what I had in mind.

First off, our girls are fine. They’re growing like crazy — both over 5 pounds each now — they still make time for “swim practice” several times a day, and they’re cooperating with periodic fetal monitoring. Based on their heart rates, one nurse today described them as “the prettiest girls on the floor,” which I’m sure she says to all the moms, but it’s still nice to hear. So the babies are still inside me and taking whatever they need.

How okay I will be for how long remains to be seen.

After 20+ weeks of boringly healthy pregnancy, I surfaced some issues on Friday, Oct 1st, at our 33-week checkup. I knew I’d been feeling dehydrated (and peeing less), and that my blood pressure had been up for several days (140/85, which is significantly higher than my pre-pregnancy 110/70). However, I was caught off guard when the nurse detected protein in my routine urine sample. After the ultrasound, they had me sit in the waiting room for two hours, drink 3-4 bottles (~80 oz) of water, and test again to demonstrate that my kidneys could clear the protein if given enough fluid to work with. I did, and they sent me home admonished to work harder at staying hydrated. They indicated that if I did that, my BP should improve.

However, on Saturday, Oct 2nd, I woke up with an intestinal bug that seemed determined to eject any and all of the fluids I was consuming out the other end. By evening I couldn’t pee at all (which is obviously the opposite of staying hydrated), and my BP was up off and on all day, peaking at 162/94(!!!) near bedtime. After I got the scary high BP reading, I called Dr. K’s answering service, talked with the doctor on call, and got sent to Woman’s for overnight tests and observation by the labor & delivery team.

They did a bunch of monitoring to confirm that I was not in pre-term labor. Phew! They did a bunch of lab work which confirmed that I was seriously dehydrated, but my liver enzymes were normal which meant I had not developed pre-eclampsia. They said I would need to take it easier and make sure my BP doesn’t keep creeping up. After 7 hours and 2 liters of IV saline later, they sent me home with “just” a gut bug.

The upside is I essentially got a trial run of going to the hospital for delivery. The labor & delivery floor was super quiet between midnight and 6 am, and I was my nurse’s only patient, so I got to ask lots of questions. (Interesting revelations: getting an IV feels ok if they shoot lidocaine first, and cold saline via IV can give you chills from the inside out. Funniest advice: if you’re planning to have an epidural, shave your back before you go to avoid the “wax job” when the anesthesiologist removes the catheter and all the tape afterward.) The trip left me less nervous about the whole hospital process, and that was a good thing.

* * *
I stayed sick and tired for several days, but I worked to drink more water, and I kept expecting to feel better. But as this week wore on, I could tell I was getting dehydrated again. Thursday afternoon I had a revelation: I remembered the part of my twin pregnancy book that says sitting reclined with the full weight of two babies (and placentas and amniotic fluid) on your kidneys will impair renal function, and it’s essential to spend lots of time lying down on your side, especially late in the pregnancy. I abandoned my laptop, moved to the couch, drank more water, and sure enough: I returned to having to pee every hour. Woo-hoo! I was delighted to have found a solution to my problem!

Except my blood pressures didn’t come down at all Thursday night, and they were up all day yesterday, too. When I went in for our 34-week checkup, the nurse found even more protein in my urine and Dr. K surmised that I’m developing pre-eclampsia, or pregnancy-induced hypertension. (He said that being a first-time mom, 40, and carrying twins all make me a “prime candidate” for developing pre-eclampsia.) If unmitigated, pre-eclampsia can impair blood flow to the babies and/or damage my kidneys, liver, brain, and other vital organs. It’s life-threatening, and the only cure is to deliver the babies (which at 34 weeks, I’m not yet eager to do).

So I was admitted to the hospital again last night for more testing and monitoring. Dr. K said I should expect to be here until at least Monday, and prepared to deliver the babies sometime next week. (Yikes!) On the one hand, my initial blood work yesterday was all normal, and one nurse said that since I don’t have the “full constellation” of pre-eclamptic problems, I may be able to “limp along” on bed rest (here and/or at home) and still make it a few more weeks toward my due date. On the other hand, the results of the essential kidney tests aren’t back yet and I won’t see a doctor again until Sunday afternoon, so it’s too soon to speculate what’s next. Wish us luck.

p.s. That took about all the sitting up I have in me tonight, so I’m going to hit post. However, Bill and my Mom each took some interesting photos and I aspire to come back and add them when I’m able.

UPDATE (from Bill): Bob concluded her fist 24 hour kidney function test (yes, foreshadowing…), and her protein levels were still too high. As a result, Sunday morning will find Bob re-starting the test(at 4 a.m.), which will then obviously run through into Monday morning. Add a couple of hours for them to get the results back, and something on the order of 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. would be when we might be done with this latest episode. That being said, we might also end-up determining that it’s time to pull the rip-cord on the girls. If that happens, we’ll try to let everyone know as timely as we can. For my part, I’ve got most of a UPS truck of stuff arriving on Tuesday from Amazon. Time to make the donuts, er, um, cribs…