The arrival of Elliott & Harper (Ashley’s POV)

I can’t believe the day is here that I am writing a blog about the arrival of my children. MY babies…my alive babies that we get to take home in a few weeks!  I can’t wrap my mind around it!!! Devan and I were talking about how weird it feels because the last time I was pregnant we didn’t have a crying, squishy baby to play with, I was pregnant and then I wasn’t…we held Rohen for a few hours and then he was gone forever. Having the twins in the NICU brings back weird flash backs of that because we still don’t have that crying squishy baby in the room with us…I am so glad this time around we just have to walk a few minutes down the hall and we get to see our beautiful babies.

So, where do I start? I suppose I will start with Saturday morning. I know Devan blogged briefly about their birth but I plan on giving you guys every detail I can remember!! We woke up Saturday around 8am to a face I haven’t seen in years! A friend from back when I was in jr high youth group is now a social worker at the hospital we are at and she stopped by to say hello! It was such a pleasant surprise and she talked to us about a bunch of things and asked us if we were interested in touring the NICU. We decided we would love to but had to wait to get orders from my doctor to be able to go in a wheel chair. Around 9am our doctor came in to check on us and said that he had been thinking about a plan of action and decided waiting around after the steroid window opened for delivery was not beneficial enough for the babies and that he wanted to deliver between 10-12 Sunday morning. I couldn’t believe it, I was in shock, I was initially under the impression that as long as the babies were thriving we could be there for weeks – Devan had even called her work and remained on the schedule for Monday (now today)! Dr. Cook left and Devan and I just looked at each other with big smiles on our face – the day was finally here, we had a date & a time of when we were going to meet our babies – the feeling was so surreal. I ordered breakfast and the nurses came in to start our morning stress test. The stress test takes about 20 minutes depending on how well the babies cooperate, they were NOT in the mood to cooperate Saturday morning – in order to have both of their heart beats on the monitors the nurse had to physically sit at my bed side holding the monitors at a very specific angle – and in order to complete the stress test you have to have 20 continuous minutes of both babies heart rates on the monitors. Not an easy task when your kids like to throw curve balls from the womb! The stress test started out totally fine, we were laughing about how the babies are “little shits” and like to dodge the monitors but soon I started having contractions really close together. My uterus is hostile, it doesn’t like to be jabbed at poked and when it is jabbed and poked it tends to contract. I knew something wasn’t right when the nurse lost Harper on the monitor and then while looking for her again you could hear her heart rate decrease. It was SO scary. I listened as her heart rate went from 150 to 90 in a matter of milliseconds and said to the nurse “UHHH, that isn’t normal right?” it wasn’t long before our doctor was in the room explaining that he had noticed her doing this when I had contractions and that if she did it one more time we’d have to deliver today. Cue panic, cue sweating, cue shaking. I was SO nervous and anxious that I could not stop my legs from trembling and felt like sweat was pouring out of all the pores in my body. We all listened in anticipation hoping that her heart rate wouldn’t drop again – but it wasn’t long before they were tossing Devan her OR gear and we were headed out the door. They wheeled me to the OR and prepped me, and administered the spinal block. The anesthesiologist was funny and asked me what I had eaten so far that day – I told him that all I had was a single piece of watermelon – his response was “WHAT, it looks like you ate the whole thing!!!” Gotta love a man that can make me crack a smile while I am so nervous! The staff was great, it was painfully obvious how nervous I was and they were all so sweet and were doing everything they could to help me calm down. Devan entered the OR and was so adorable…she walked in with all her gear on and I just kept thinking about how in love I am with her and how this was it, our babies were minutes away from entering the world. She was supposed to come and sit next to me but it didn’t surprise me when she asked the doctor if she could stand and watch – I am so glad she got to do so and she snapped some pretty sweet pictures! For those of you that don’t know Devan that well, she is a medical junkie and is currently in school to be a nurse so this was a cool experience for her to witness regardless of the fact that she was about to meet her babies for the first time. The c-section was TERRIBLE. I apologize to all blogger friends in advance who might have to get one – I never want to do it again, but of course would do it all day for the outcome. I was not a fan of the intense pressure you feel – I felt hands inside of my abdomen from the bottom all the way up to my boobs, it was the WEIRDEST sensation in the world. The anesthesiologist talked me through a lot of it because he could tell it freaked me out – I kept asking Devan “DO YOU SEE THEM???” She said not yet but they’re getting close!!! It felt like only seconds later and I heard it, my little boy crying. It was the most BEAUTIFUL sound I have ever heard in my entire life. I immediately started crying tears of joy knowing that he was here safe and sound! The doctor gave me a quick peek and then off he went to be checked out by his medical team. About a minute later Harper came out but wasn’t crying. I already had an idea that she wouldn’t have been crying when she came out because of all of her issues. They showed Harper to me as well, and then took her over to her medical team. The plan all along was as soon as the babies come out, Devan is with them and doesn’t leave their side. She talked me through what was going on while they started sewing me shut. Harper wasn’t breathing when she was born and they tried for two minutes to get her going on her own before deciding to intubate. Within seconds of intubation our purple baby was a beautiful pink!  The doctors brought both babies over to me, let me kiss them and then Devan and the babies headed down to the NICU while they finished up the c-section. This was by far the worst part of this experience. The process of closing up was AWFUL. I was so uncomfortable and was really having a hard time with it. My blood pressure was dropping quite a bit and I started to feel really really sick. They were giving me medication to help me out with that and asked if I wanted anything for the pain/discomfort. The doctor asked me if I wanted a sedative and I said no because I didn’t want to be out of it when I was able to see the babies — a few minutes went by and I was really struggling, he asked again and said that it wouldn’t put me out just make me feel better so I agreed, BOY AM I GLAD I AGREED. Demerol is the worlds greatest drug…I felt so relaxed and calm after a minute or two and kept thanking the doctor for his wonderful suggestion! After I got the drugs the c-section wasn’t bad at all, the closed me up and brought me out to recovery. I was able to FaceTime Devan pretty shortly after arriving and she showed me the babies. I had to wait 2 1/2 hours in recovery before I was finally able to see them in person myself- and even then it was only for a few minutes and it was hard to see them because I was in a bed. Devan took both our moms, Mikey, Jane and Eric down to meet them! I was told that as soon as I could get into a wheel chair I could go down myself – challenge accepted. It wasn’t long before I was able to go see both of them and really gaze into their beautiful faces. We spent as much time as we could with them Saturday evening. The time between 8am Saturday morning and when I fell asleep went by as quickly as you blink. I have never been so exhausted in my life. Overwhelming doesn’t even begin to explain how we were both feeling. We went from Devan and Ashley, expecting twins to Devan, Ashley, Elliott & Harper – a family. Its been almost 48 hours and I still cannot wrap my mind around it. I think that it isn’t going to feel real for a while. We haven’t gotten to hold them yet, and barely get to touch them. They’re super sensitive to touch right now so all we can do is really lay our hands on them – they don’t like to be stroked or rubbed or anything quite yet. What I can tell you is I am in love. Their little faces make me melt in a way I have never melted before – I love that their little personalities are already shining through. Harper is such a firecracker and Elliott is much more laid back. Our little girl has a head of blonde what appears to be curly hair and little dude has darker brown straighter hair. Neither of them have had baths yet and after they do we will get an even clearer picture of their hair, I cannot wait! So far my favorite thing to do has been to help the NICU nurses with their care – taking their temp, changing their diapers, changing their sheets if needed. Last night was awesome because both of them opened their eyes for us!! I have been pumping every 2-3 hours since they were born and am so happy with the milk supply I have been getting. Each time I pump I am averaging between 4-5mls of cholustrum which is great according to the lactation consultants! This morning my milk is already starting to show signs of changing from cholustrum to actual breast milk so it shouldn’t be long until my supply really comes in!! I’m beyond happy that I am able to provide them with the yummiest and healthiest food option for my growing babies!!! I will probably be discharged tomorrow which is going to be REALLY weird, how do you just go home without your babies?! The next few weeks are going to be long and exhausting…I am hoping that the babies don’t have the be in the NICU too long – the general consensus amongst the doctors is 3-4 weeks, so shortly after Thanksgiving. I cannot wait until they’re home.

We created a Facebook page that will provide more consistent updates as well as TONS of pictures, check it out! We will continue blogging as well!! But for now the best place to get the 411 will be this page: https://www.facebook.com/elliottandharperdavis

I know Devan is in the process of blogging an update right now too, so you should hear from her shortly!!!

❤ Ashley

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The Birth of Elliott and Harper <3

We became mothers today for the second and third time to Elliott Edward and Harper Andersen.

We were moved to antepartum last night because we planned to keep the twins in for a week or two. Our perinatologist thought that we should potentially discuss a c-section on Sunday morning after the 48 hour “steroid window” had opened up (48 hours after the first injection of betamethasone to help their lungs develop faster) and we would continue to push that out if we could keep Harper’s dopplers strong and steady. We spent the night in antepartum after a normal non-stress test and all was well. Ashley was dilated to 2cm and 70% effaced at that time, but they weren’t concerned about that.

We woke up this morning and were planning on having Ashley do her non-stress test, eat some breakfast, and then go on the NICU tour. Our doctor came in and said that he really didn’t feel comfortable going on past Sunday because he would like to deliver them personally and didn’t think another couple of days would make much of a difference. We planned the c-section for Sunday between 10-12 and went ahead with the non-stress test. We noticed immediately that Harper wasn’t doing well. Her heart rate dropped with each contraction, and pushing on Ashley’s stomach trying to keep her on the monitor triggered more and more contractions, every 2-3 minutes. Our doctor had already left for the day, so another doctor from his practice came in and told us that he felt it was time to just move and take them out. Harper had reached a point at which her placenta couldn’t sustain her, and if we didn’t take her right away it could be devastating.

They prepped us right away, getting me into a gown, booties, hairnet and mask and wheeled Ashley into the OR. Once she was draped, I was allowed to go in and sit beside her while our beautiful little ones arrived!

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This is the amazing action shot of amniotic fluid shooting out as they went in to deliver Elliott. 

Elliott Edward arrived at 12:36pm weighing 3lb,8oz.

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Harper Andersen arrived one minute later at 12:37pm and weighed in at a tiny 2lb 11oz. Unfortunately, my phone memory was full and I had to switch to Ashley’s at that exact moment, so I missed a shot of her actually being pulled out. I did get some immediately after!

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They were both taken to be worked on by two separate NICU teams. Dr. Hamburg worked on Harper (she is the one holding her in this picture.) Harper was born not breathing at all, and they worked on her for about two minutes trying to get her to take a breath on her own.

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Her color was obviously awful, she wasn’t responding to their attempts to make her breathe, so the decision was made to intubate. This was her color after being intubated (she pinked right up.) You can pick the twins apart in pictures because Harper has white tape over her mouth and the breathing tube protruding form her mouth.

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Meanwhile, Elliott didn’t need to be intubated but did need some support. He has a nasal cannula hooked up to that is forcing air into his lungs. He was also having some issues with air in his stomach, so they placed a tube into his stomach that air could be released through.

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I was able to cut both of their cords (though they had already been cut… it was more just out of tradition than anything, but I’m glad they let me do it haha)

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Harper was taken back first, and I went with her after Dr. Hamburg brought her to Ashley for a quick kiss before leaving for the NICU. Dr. Weng was still working on Elliott, and Ashley was still being sewn up. Elliott and his team met me in the NICU shortly after I arrived there with Harper and her team.

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Ashley went into recovery where my Mom and Mikey (Grandma and Grandpa!) sat with her. The NICU team started IVs in both babies, drew labs, had chest x-rays done and stabilized them. I FaceTimed her while she was in recovery so she could see the twins before anyone else.

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Elliott flipping a nurse off on the way to the NICU… already trouble! 😉

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My mom and Mikey came up to see the twins, followed by Ashley’s mom and her best friend Jane. Once Ashley was finished in recovery, we wheeled her in to meet them in person for the first time.

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We settled into our room down the hall, and worked on getting Ashley through her recovery. She is tolerating the recovery REALLY well, walking around and not having much pain. She didn’t tolerate the actual c-section well, she says it traumatized her. I can’t imagine being cut open and awake, but it does sound really awful!

The twins’ godfather, Eric, came to visit, and then later Ashley and I both went back to the NICU  with Shad, Lisa and Kaitlyn. Unforunately they aren’t stable enough to hold (which is rough, because we want to do skin-t0-skin ASAP) and everyone agreed that they need to rest without being touched or messed with in order to get their breathing under control. Ashley and I haven’t slept in a really long time, so we have been resting a lot.

Here is how the twins are doing as of right now:

Harper – She is still intubated, and until a few hours ago the plan was to extubate her tonight. While suctioning her, they found blood in the fluid from her lungs. It was a very small amount, but her platelets came back at 60 (they’re looking for around 100) and the two of these events together was concerning. The doctor called to get our consent for a transfusion, which they are doing right now. This is apparently relatively common and is not a reason to panic. Because the pressure from being intubated can help keep her lungs from bleeding, they have decided to leave her intubated for now until they know that the danger of bleeding has passed. They do want to extbubate as soon as it’s safe, because there is a risk for infection. Her blood sugar was too low to read right after birth, but she has since had a glucose injection and is now looking better.

Elliott – He is receiving a little bit of help with his breathing but is not fully intubated. His oxygen saturation was low (in the 80s) so they have bumped up the amount of help he is getting a little and are hoping that works. If he continues to have trouble, an option would be to intubate him as well and give him medication. As of now they are trying to avoid that.

Both babies have had wet diapers, received caffeine to help perk them up after being drowsy from the magnesium Ashley had and have ultrasounds of the brain scheduled on the 15th. The general consensus is that these kids are going to be completely fine. The issues that they are having are common and treatable, so it’s just about getting their breathing stabilized and then getting them to gain weight. Ashley has started pumping and they will start the twins on breastmilk via feeding tubes tomorrow morning. Also, we should be able to hold them tomorrow!

We have had a few different opinions on how long they will be here in the NICU. One doctor thought 3-4 weeks, and the doctor this evening thinks 6-7. It will really depend on how they take to their feedings and how well they gain weight. We won’t know until we start to see growth.

I am exhausted, the nurse is planning on waking us up in an hour to walk Ashley around the unit and possibly remove her catheter, so I am going to have to reserve the long-winded emotional tirade for later. We will update as often as possible with lots of pictures, and we are hoping that tomorrow can begin a schedule of us providing the care (diapers, temp taking, etc) and also holding them skin to skin as much as possible.

Thank you so much to everyone for your support, I am trying to get back to everyone individually! It’s amazing that two people can be so loved when they’ve only been here on earth for 12 hours and 12 minutes!

Love to you all,

Devan

No Babies Yet…

Our perinatologist sent us to the hospital for immediate delivery, but the doctors here had a different idea altogether. While 32 weeks is really great, we still want to reduce the chance of lung issues and cerebral palsy. Our care has transferred to Phoenix Perinatal Associates, and our doctor last night wants to shoot for 48-72 more hours. Ashley was given the first of two betamethasone injections last night in triage, which is a steroid that will help with lung development. The second shot will be given 24 hours after the first, and then 24 hours after that will be the start of the “steroid window”, the best period for lung health. Our goal is to get into that window, which would put us at a possibly delivery on Saturday.

In addition to the steroids, they have her on a constant drip of magnesium sulfate, which is used to stop labor and help to prevent cerebral palsy in premature babies. The mag has really awful side effects, mostly just flu-like symptoms and feeling sluggish. The worst part is that mag crosses the placenta, so the babies are feeling just as sick. Because there is a risk of the babies becoming too drowsy/sick, Ashley is on constant monitoring. This has been really challenging because our babies like to move A LOT, so keeping two active babies on the monitor is hard. It also doesn’t help that Ashley needs to pee literally every hour, and that is with her holding it as long as she can. Every hour we have to unhook her from all three of her belly monitors (one for contractions, the other two for the twins’ heartbeats), her pulse ox, and bring her IV with her to the bathroom. We then have to get her back to bed, hooked back up, and then find the babies again. This went on all night, plus adjustments to the monitors every time a baby moved out of range. They gave her ambien at around 11:30 last night and she wasn’t ever able to fall asleep for more than a couple minutes at a time, so she’s so groggy now. I don’t think she will take that again tonight.

We are switching doctors again this morning and we are waiting to meet the new doctor and day shift nurse right now, they should be coming by any minute. What we know from last night is that we are aiming for Saturday evening for delivery at the earliest, because we want to be in that steroid window. The mag needs to run for 72 hours to be fully effective, so that is the next goal. If they are still good at 72 hours, they will try to keep them in as long as possible. (We could potentially be here in the hospital for a week… it’s not likely but it’s not impossible.) Our nurse is encouraging us not to think beyond the 48 hours, because for all we know the mag could start to effect the babies negatively and they will be born today. It’s one day at a time now, and we are just thankful for every extra day we can get under our belt. We will be hospitalized until the babies are born for sure.

Last night was really brutal… Sleeping in a hard chair next to Ashley while she’s hooked up to monitors and IVs is like reliving my worst nightmare. It really hit at about 2am. We know all is relatively well with the twins but the last time we were doing this  was the worst day of our lives. It was not a good night.

For now Ashley is just trying to rest as much as possible, we are hoping to get some breakfast soon. We will keep everyone posted, thanks so much for all the support!

I’ve posted on Facebook this morning that we have no cell service in our room and the wifi coverage is spotty at best, so it’s going to be hard to be available to our local friends via phone. Facebook is the way to go!

❤ Devan

IT’S TIME!

We are at registration at labor and delivery right now, c-section is going down ASAP! Babies aren’t in distress but they have both fallen even more behind, so it’s time. Updates to come… Holy crap! We are going to have these kids tonight!