Charlotte & Madison were born on Christmas Eve at 28 weeks, 3 days. Today they are 31 weeks. It’s all been a little surreal considering I had my mind wrapped around making it to 32 weeks before delivery. The girls had a different path in mind and decided they wanted to arrive sooner. So, here I sit, belly gone and two little ones in the Neonatal ICU. It all happened so fast, one minute I was carrying these two little girls and the next, I was wheeled into surgery and they were no longer with me. I miss them terribly because they are away from me. But, I am optimistic and so hopeful at this point in the journey because our little girls have been doing so well.
Charlotte Renee on the day she was born December 24th 2009….
Charlotte Renee a little over a week later…..January 3, 2010
Madison Lee a little over a week later January 3rd 2010…..
On the day of their birth, the girls were placed on CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) to assist with their breathing. This is a description I found online regarding the CPAP:
A nasal CPAP device consists of a large tube with tiny prongs that fit into the baby’s nose, which is hooked to a machine that provides oxygenated air into the air passages and lungs. The pressure from the CPAP machine helps keep a preemie’s lungs open so he or she can breathe. However, the machine does not provide breaths for the baby, so the baby breathes on his or her own.
The girls were only briefly intubated (sp?) to administer Surfactant to their lungs which we were relieved about. They have not spent a day on the ventilator because they have been breathing on their own. The CPAP merely provides support in that endeavor because preemies often forget to take breaths. By their 5th day in the NICU (the 29th) the girls were off the CPAP and only require a nasal cannula which provides extra flow and pressure to their lungs to help them remember to breath. The girls are both breathing on their own, they fluctuate between breathing room air and on occasion a combination of room air and 5-10% extra oxygen.
The girls tend to have events on a daily basis, which is normal for preemies of their age. The different types of events include Apnea spells, Brady’s & DSats. The Apnea spells happen while the girls sleep and due to the prematurity, forget to breath. When this happens,it usually doesn’t last too long and either they recover on their own or we just rub their backs, give them some stimulation and they wake enough to remember to start breathing again. The Brady’s (Bradycardia) are when the heart rate drops. The same procedure applies if they do not recover on their own for Brady’s. The Dsats are desaturations in their oxygen level. This can be resolved on its own and sometimes, they simply bring up the O2 slightly from the room air level. The reason for all these events is due to their neurological systems being immature and they are very common. As they get older, they will get fewer and farther between. We are already seeing days where they only have a couple. In addition to the monitoring, the girls have been given their daily Starbucks dose of caffeine which helps with these events.
Overall, outside of the events, our girls have done pretty well. They’ve had some “tanning” sessions on and off the first couple of weeks to remedy jaundice. We had an ultrasound done on their heads to check for brain bleeds, which can be common in preemies born this early. The bleeds can vary from a Grade 1 bleed to a Grade 4 bleed. Grade 1 usually resolves itself and doesn’t cause long term damage from what I’m told. Grade 3 & 4 is when quality of life can be affected. Fortunately, 72 hours after their birth, the girls were checked and there were no bleeds in either of them! We were SO relieved and SO thankful for that news. We do have another look at 30 days of life, but according to the doctor, if we did not find a bleed in those first few days of life, the incidence of bleeds after that is lowered significantly – so we are optimistic.
Additionally, the girls hearts were checked to see that the holes that remain open in utero had closed. Madison’s had closed up by the time they checked. Charlotte’s had not. She still had remnants of the opening.
The opening in Charlotte’s heart was minimal, so the doctors lowered her fluid intake and have waited to see if it will close. As of a few days ago, the nurse could no longer hear signs of the PDA. So we are optimistic that it has closed and no further intervention will be needed. The more serious of PDA’s require medication and potential surgery. We are hopeful that Charlotte will not need either of those treatments.
The only other blip on the radar is the girls had a night where they both doubled their events (they seem to sync up with one another pretty regularly) and so the doctors suspected infection. After a large battery of tests; blood, urine and spinal cultures – it turned out there was no infection. Madison’s culture showed infection initially but they determined over time that the needle must have been tainted when the sample was being taken! That upset me a bit, but regardless, they would have run these tests, I just wish we hadn’t had the scare of possible infection.
The girls are doing really well with their feeds and their weight. They are both up to 1 ounce of milk and both have exceeded their birth weight. We officially have 3 lb babies!!
We get to hold the girls daily now. We do Kangaroo holds (skin to skin) and we also hold them wrapped up like little burritos. I personally love the Kangaroo holding. I miss having my girls so close to me! Today, our oldest daughter Jordan will get to hold one of her sisters if they are doing well. She is tickled to have the opportunity since she has had to watch everyone else have the opportunity and we’ve made her wait.
SO, that’s our journey to date in the NICU. Our girls have exceeded our expectations in their short life. We feel blessed beyond belief that they are doing so well and we really hope to avoid any major setbacks. We are counting our blessings and hoping to bring home healthy, happy, chunky babies within a couple of months.
Our First Family Photo!! January 10, 2009
Daddy holding Charlotte, Mommy holding Madison, Big sister Jordan in the front