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