NICU Days Twenty-Eight through Forty – Elliott’s Discharge and 6 Weeks Old!

You guys… I am a bad, bad blogger! It’s just been so crazy lately. Three days after our last post, Elliott was discharged home! It’s been a whirlwind having a newborn at home and another baby still hospitalized, but we’ve been making it work the best that we can. Here’s an update on the Davis Twins’ last few weeks! ‚̧

First, I want to share a sample picture from the NICU shoot our awesome friend Suzy Goodrick did for us. We are waiting on the rest of them, but how beautiful are these kids? We were laughing so hard, Elliott would NOT wake up and made this total chub face the whole time. Look at those chins! Suzy is an amazing photographer, we can’t wait to have their newborn pictures done and our family pictures as well! Thanks, Suzy ūüôā

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NICU Days Nineteen through Twenty-Seven

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NICU Day Nineteen was Wednesday, November 26th

NICU Day Twenty was Thursday, November 27th (Gobble, gobble!) – 35 weeks adjusted!

NICU Day Twenty One was Friday, November 28th

NICU Day Twenty Two was Saturday, November 29th

NICU Day Twenty Three was Sunday, November 30th

NICU Day Twenty Four was Monday, December 1st

NICU Day Twenty Five was Tuesday, December 2nd

NICU Day Twenty Six was Wednesday, December 3rd.

Today was NICU Day Twenty Seven (my lucky number) and the twins are 36 weeks adjusted today!

– Elliott –

Elliott has been a boring baby ūüėČ Being boring is a great thing to be in the NICU, it means that all he is doing is growing. Elliott was taking his bottles like a champ, so his NG tube was removed Tuesday¬†morning. As long as he takes at least 25ml of his 40ml feedings every three hours he can keep the tube out. He had a pretty bad diaper rash that has been clearing up nicely with zinc oxide and he is still pooping normally. The doctor removed his pulse oximeter since he hasn’t had any issues with his o2 saturation, so he is free of one more wire! Elliott passed his car seat test today, which is a huge step towards discharge. He had to be strapped into his seat for 30 minutes and not have any issues with his heart rate or oxygen to pass. He did extremely well with the exception of losing his binky and screaming a few times! He weighed in at 5 pounds 3 ounces tonight! It’s crazy… we are expecting him to go home by the end of this week. I can’t even wrap my mind around that. He’s like a normal baby now, we pick him up and carry him around, burp him, cuddle him, all of that. We have set up his first pediatrician appointment for next Wednesday with a pediatrician that has come highly recommended by other preemie moms we have met. I can’t wait to get him home, but I’m sad that we won’t be able to fully enjoy it while sister is still in the NICU. We want them both home so bad, but we are SO proud of our boy! What a champ ‚̧

 

 

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I made them turkey hats for Thanksgiving! ‚̧

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NICU Days Seventeen & Eighteen

NICU Day Seventeen was Monday, November 24th (My sister’s birthday. Happy birthday, Aunt Sarah!! <3)

NICU Day Eighteen was Tuesday, November 25th

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– Harper –

We woke up¬†yesterday¬†to a call from our night nurse, Crystal, saying that Harper decided to remove her own OG tube. She pulled it out, started to gag, dropped her heart rate, stopped breathing, her o2 sats dropped and she turned blue. This response is considered normal for preemies when they gag, but it was still a pretty traumatic episode for her. She had a few more episodes throughout the day during which she would brady down (drop her heart rate and do all of the above) for a few seconds. She brought herself back out of most of them, but she did need to be jostled to remind her to breathe a couple of times. This is scary when it happens, but it’s really not out of the ordinary. In fact, one of the criteria for babies leaving the NICU is to not do this for 5 days. One of her biggest episodes¬†yesterday¬†was during her cares when we decided to remove her OG tube all together in favor of an NG tube (in her nose instead of her mouth) and that was pretty rough on her. She turned blue pretty fast, but we were able to get her suctioned and she came back with no problem. Harper had two BIG improvements¬†yesterday¬†that we¬†were¬†SO excited about. First, she was weaned off of CPAP and onto high-flow, which is another step closer to breathing 100% on her own. Less pressure going into her nose means less air in her belly, which means better feeding. Today, Harper received feedings of around 17ml every 3 hours with NO residuals! She had two really big poops too! This kid is kicking ass with her feedings today, we are so excited. We knew that CPAP was making this more difficult for her because she was filling up with air and we really suspected that we would see an improvement when she was weaned off of it. Thankfully, we were right!¬†Her weight today was 3 pounds, 11 ounces…. officially ONE POUND up from her birth weight! This kid is just growing chins like crazy. We are so proud of her. Ashley go to do about 3 hours of kangaroo (skin to skin) care today and she just does so well with it, her heart rate, temp and O2 sats are perfection. We are looking at weaning her down more on her respiratory support ASAP as long as she continues to do well. She’s catching up to her brother, slowly but surely!

 

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Our nurses have craft time and leave these little gifts for us ‚̧

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Hanging onto Grandpa Mikey’s finger.

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Just. So. Many. Chins.

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She was sleeping like this! Mouth wide open… crazy kid.

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– Elliott –

Mr. Elliott¬†has had a HUGE couple of days, it’s incredible. Yesterday, he was moved to the continuing care nursery where he will be focusing on learning how to eat from a bottle and nurse. Feeding is our big hurdle now. Ideally, we wanted to have then twins be exclusive nursers or at least only have breast milk, but that is not recommended for preemies. Because they aren’t getting the same nutrients that they would have been getting from the placenta for the last two weeks and another 6 weeks on top of that, they need a ton of calories really quickly to gain weight. Gaining weight and taking in calories is a huge undertaking for their underdeveloped bodies, so we fortify Ashley’s breast milk to have extra calories. Depending on what our pediatrician wants, we will have to supplement their diets for up to several months post discharge. This means they will probably only be able to nurse every other feeding, and the others will be pumped breast milk with special formula added for supplementation. Fortunately, our view on nursing isn’t “formula is BAD” as much as it’s “breast milk is GOOD” so as long as they are getting all those important nutrients and antibodies from Ashley’s milk we are all good in the hood. We are also not feeding them just formula or just breast milk. Every feeding is breast milk with a little extra goodies added in. Ashley is working on nursing, and he does very well for only being 34w4d adjusted. They don’t expect much of a latch from babies until about 35/36 weeks but Elliott roots and finds her nipple on his own very well. He has latched a few times and has gotten a few good swallows! Since I can’t nurse, I am in charge of bottle feeding. Speech therapy came in to observe me feeding him today, and it felt good to get an A+ on my preemie feeding technique! We were expecting it to be just like feeding a normal baby, but there is a lot more to it. We hold him in the side lying position (like nursing) and tickle his cheeks and nose with the bottle to get him to root (also like nursing). Because preemies haven’t figured out the whole suck-swallow-breathe thing yet, they need breaks after each couple of swallows to avoid them choking and having a brady episode (like Harper had) as a result. It sucks to take the bottle away when he has a good latch and is getting some food, but it’s better than having him choke! He has been taking anywhere from 10ml-17ml from the bottle at each feeding and the rest is then fed to him through his feeding tube as usual. Like I said before about the calories, we have to be careful with his feedings since they take so much energy out of him. By fortifying his milk, we are making sure that he’s not burning more calories by eating than he is taking in. Elliott’s other big achievement today was getting his first bath in a real tub! We gave him a swaddled bath and he absolutely loved it (though the pictures don’t make it look that way!) especially when we washed his hair. We are loving being able to dress him up in more clothes, he just looks so cute and fits right into those preemie clothes so well. Our friends Lisa and Kaitlyn were able to visit and hold him yesterday, Grandpa Mikey was able to hold him as well. Elliott weighs 4 pounds, 11 oz and is also exactly one pound up from his birth weight! He also has about 94 chins.

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Kaitlyn ‚̧

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Lisa ‚̧

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Grandpa Mikey


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Elliott’s new room, that he is moving out of this evening. Our new one will be similar! My mom is cheesin’ around ūüôā

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All chins.

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My awesome friend Retha got the twins some really adorable stuffed animals from The Land of Nod, and Elliott’s alligator dwarfs him!

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– Moms –

When we left they were about to move Elliott¬†to yet another room, because our new unit has twin rooms. Both twins will have their own rooms, but there will be a sliding door between the two that we will keep open. This way we can actually take one of them into the other’s room and have them nap or be held together! Since the rooms are all usually occupied, we are moving into a room tonight and then we will move Harper in next door when she is ready to come over. (Should be within about a week if she keeps up the good work!) It is SO NICE having an actual room. We have a bed to sleep in, a fridge, a recliner, a TV, a desk for me to do my homework and even some family showers that we can use if we spend the night. We’ve been getting a lot of exercise walking back and forth between the two units all day for their cares, but we love having a home base where we can¬†sit down for a minute. We’ve stayed later than usual the last couple of nights. It’s getting more and more intense every time ¬†we interact with the babies, they are so alert and have so much personality. It’s amazing to see them gain weight and become more responsive to our voices. We are still just totally in awe of our nurses and doctors… One of our doctors is a former customer of mine from the cigar store I used to work at, and he has been so supportive and sweet. He’s a friend of my mom’s as well (she worked at the cigar store for 6 years before I did) and we all got the chance to sit down and catch up about life and the babies last night before having a nice dinner with my mom and Mikey. Today, my sister in law Traci came to meet them for the first time and was able to hold Elliott, and then my Aunt Shellie and cousin Cassidy came to visit. It melted my butter when my Aunt Shellie got tearful looking down at little Harper. We are just surrounded by so much love, it’s overwhelming sometimes. ‚̧ My wonderful friend Lili flew in from Colorado today and we are meeting up with her tomorrow morning so she can meet them for the first time! Our friend Trisha (one of the three people actually present at our wedding lol) will be coming from New Mexico for Thanksgiving and will get to meet them on Thursday. Thanksgiving is going to be a challenge because we just can’t imagine leaving them alone on their firs Thanksgiving. Even though they won’t know or care, we will.

Ashley is still lactating like a mother (ha, see what I did there?) and we woke up to this unpleasant surprise after I apparently turned off her pumping alarm in my sleep and she slept through her pumping time by two hours. Whoopsies.

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All in all, everything is going very well. The kids are not doing anything we wouldn’t expect from preemies, and everyone still agrees that they will not have ANY lasting physical or cognitive disabilities down the line. We just have to be patient with our little ones, and they are amazing us and making it worth it absolutely every day.

HUGE NEWS, by the way… We were sitting at lunch the other day and received a message from a woman in Portland who has a 3 month old daughter that was conceived using our same donor! The twins have a half sister! It was so exciting, we’ve all added one another on Facebook and we’re looking forward to keeping in touch. We think she looks like Elliott (or, Elliott looks like her haha) as they both have cleft chins, just like our donor. I know there are more babies out there that were conceived using the same donor, but we have yet to hear from any others. It was just really cool that she found us ūüôā

Until next time,

Devan, Ashley, Elliott and Harper ‚̧

Happy Two Week Birthday to Harper and Elliott (NICU Days Ten-Sixteen)

– We started this post last night but ended up falling asleep, so I’ve tacked on all the extra stuff from today, Sunday the 23rd ūüôā –

(Ashley’s Portion)

I can’t believe it has already been two weeks since we met the absolute loves of our life. Both Devan and I are so in love with these babies and are counting down the days until we can bring them home and snuggle and love on them whenever we please. I think not being able to snuggle them whenever we want is one of the hardest parts of being in the NICU. They will start crying and your motherly instinct is to run and pick up your baby to soothe them, but you can’t. You have to open a tiny arm door and try and soothe them that way and honestly, it sucks. With that being said, we have SO much to be thankful for. I am still having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that these beautiful living breathing babies are ours. We have a son and a daughter, we’re a family of four. It blows my mind! Struggling with infertility & having suffered from 2 losses makes you almost expect for things to go terribly wrong, so when they don’t you almost don’t believe it. It is weird with them being in the NICU because while we are parents, and have been for two weeks (to live children, almost a year for Rohen, and I think we became parents the day we lost him) it doesn’t feel¬†like we are parents yet. We are at the hospital anywhere between 8-12 hours a day. We get there before 11am every day and stay until at least 7 when it is shift change – depending on how much homework Devan has or how neglected we want the dogs to feel (kidding) we stay or go home. While we are at the hospital we run the show – Elliott has cares at 8, 11, 2, & ¬†5 and Harper has them at 9, 12, 3 & 6. At those times we take their temps, change their diapers, clean their eyes and mouths if needed and give them quick snuggles before getting them back to bed. Every three days they both get little bed baths as well. In between their care times we usually let them rest unless we are holding them – if they cry or are having any issues we are the ones who tend to them. While we are at the hospital we get to be Mommy & Mama, and then we go home and I feel like nothing has changed. Its me, Devan and the dogs watching TV upstairs and hanging out…no babies. It is a very weird feeling to have been pregnant for so long and then all of a sudden not be pregnant anymore but also not have your baby at home with you. With Rohen I was pregnant & then I wasn’t but I grieved a loss. This time we obviously haven’t experienced a loss we are just patiently waiting for our babies to grow enough to come home so we can really jump into this whole family of four thing.

(Devan’s Portion)

Ashley got sick this week, which was really rough. We went in to see them early in the morning one day and ended up leaving within an hour, Ashley was feeling like a cold was coming on and that is very dangerous for our little ones. The next day, I went in by myself and spent time holding both of them so they wouldn’t go a day without seeing a mom ūüôā Ashley slept it off for about 18 hours and woke up feeling much better the next day. She still has a little cough, but we think it was just allergies/asthma/a sinus infection and nothing contagious. I have felt totally fine, so it makes us feel a lot better knowing that whatever it was, I didn’t catch it (we share 99% of our illnesses with each other)

We are so grateful for the nurses and doctors in the NICU…the hospital we are at lets us choose 4 primary nurses that will follow them until they’re discharged. Our day nurses are Jami and Nancy, and our night nurse is Crystal. Crystal actually reads the blog (Hello, Crystal!) so I think I am obligated to say that she is fabulous ūüėČ We really love them all, we chose them because they ALL talk to the twins like they love them. We loved that they talk to them the same way we do, even with the sarcasm that Ashley and I are prone to use. (“Oooooh, why are you crying? Am I wiping your butt to gently? Are you too cute? Is it too hard having everyone love on you all the time and do everything or you?”) Even when we don’t have our primaries, the nurses are incredible. ¬†Megan is the charge nurse that we see several times a week and she is so kind ¬†and has incredible compassion for her job, and the last two days we had Danielle and had a blast with her! She is hilarious and got all of our TV show jokes which means she is awesome because she finds the same TV shows as hilarious as we do (It’s Always Sunny & Workaholics were the ones referenced today) We really couldn’t be happier with the care the twins are getting.

So, now to the stuff you are all here to read – BABY UPDATES! They are two weeks old today and they both lost their umbilical cords within a few hours of each other today! Of course, I saved them.

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NICU Days Six, Seven, Eight and Nine – The Twins Turn One Week Old!

Yesterday, the twins were one week old! I can’t believe how fast this week has flown by… I don’t know if it’s because of the joyful awe or the sheer terror, but either way we are just feeling so fortunate to have one week and some change down and behind us!

NICU Day Six was Thursday, November 13th

NICU Day Seven was Friday, November 14th

NICU Day Eight was Saturday, November 15th.

NICU Day Nine is today, Sunday November 16th

– Elliott –

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Oh, Elliott… what a personality on this kid! Elliott has been taken off of his phototherapy and is now goggle-free! This is great because we get to see those open eyes all day long, and he is just so alert. He cracks everyone up with his sweet, quiet, curious stares and when he catches you in the eye it’s a pretty incredible experience. Elliott was very active in the womb and always made sure that we saw his face for pictures, and I really though that meant he was going to be loud, expressive and extroverted as a baby. I can see now that maybe it just meant that he was super cooperative! He is such a chill baby, with the exception of getting SUPER pissed whenever we reposition him during his cares. He also absolutely hates to have his temperature taken under his arm, but we’re told all NICU babies do. Dr. Hamburg decided that it was time to wean Elliott off the vent, which was really exciting. Normally, babies go from NIPPV (which he was on) to CPAP and then to a high-flow nasal cannula. We totally bypassed the CPAP and he is now just on a nasal cannula at 2 lpm with no extra oxygen. We gave him a bath a few days ago, and he LOVED IT. He was alert and engaged the whole time, didn’t cry at all.

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Ashley held him on Thursday.

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Ashley and I both got to hold him Friday (the first day off the vent)

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Near the end of Ashley’s kangaroo session, he started breathing a little too fast. We all decided that he had been overstimulated and needed a day to just relax and get used to his new vent settings, so yesterday we did just that. With the exception of providing his cares every 3 hours, we didn’t even touch him at all. He tolerated everything really well and he’s looking great.

Ashley’s mom and grandma (mommymom) came by today and helped out with his bath! (I will add pictures of that on the next post)

His feedings are going great as well, today he is up to 8ml every 3 hours and he was properly digesting it all. (Nice poopy diapers for mama to clean up!) As long as he continues to tolerate these feedings, he will go up 1ml every 12 hours. In his morning exam today the doctor told us he has a heart murmur. Apparently this is common in preemies and she didn’t seem concerned at all. She said that it will most likely correct itself and that they will keep a close eye on it for the time being. He¬†also received a head ultrasound this morning and we are waiting on results but the doctor is confident they will come back normal.¬†His weight last night¬†was 3lb 12oz. He is breathing very fast, and they originally told us today that holding was out of the question after his bath seemed to overstimulate him. Ashley went over to him while he was fussing this evening and when she put her hand on him his respirations dropped to near-normal immediately. After 10 minutes, our nurse insisted that he be held! I got to hold him, and he did very well. Respirations were much better while being held than they were just being on his own.

Elliott looks like a baby monkey! (This is how I pass the time in the NICU)

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– Harper –

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Elliott has one hell of a personality, but Harper makes him look tame. This girl is a wild child, so vocal and opinionated! She will make sure to let us know when she is displeased. One of the funniest things about the two of them is that they turn BEET red when they are upset. In addition to her amazing color change, she sticks her tongue out, flips everyone off and refuses to stay swaddled.

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She is alert and happy, with those big eyes just watching everyone who comes up to her bed. Every time she looks up at us we can’t help but laugh, she has the most expressive face. I can tell she’s going to be so sarcastic and will love to run the show (after all, it was her idea to come out this early!) Ashley thinks I’m crazy to think I can already tell her personality, but I am telling you, I would put my life on it! I was able to hold Harper on Thursday, which was a really amazing experience. She tolerated it so well, her breathing was great the entire time and we both just felt so relaxed.

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Harper is having an issue with her digestion, and it’s a tough one. She was getting about 2ml every 3 hours or so and none of it was going down. At each feeding, the nurse will evacuate the contents of her stomach through a syringe and measure what comes out. If she gets a little breast milk but it doesn’t look too nasty, they will give it back. Harper was getting 100% of her milk back after three hours and also several syringes just full of air. Her belly was distended and rock hard, and she wasn’t pooping at all. They did an abdominal X-ray and found that her belly was just totally full of gas. NIPPV forces air through the nose to help her breathe, but since there is so much of it, the belly gets a bunch as well. She’s been swallowing air through her NIPPV and it’s been totally blocking her up and making her uncomfortable. To remedy this, we put her on a strict rest on¬†Friday. We only touched her during her cares and we didn’t give her any feedings at all. (Ashley really wanted to hold her, but she couldn’t) ¬†They have started to wean her vent settings to ease up on the pressure, and by¬†yesterday¬†she was able to resume her feedings! Ashley finally got to hold her yesterday and she tolerated it very well.

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She also had a bath and loved it, as well as a head ultrasound. Her weight is about the same at 2 lbs 14oz – still not at the 3lb mark yet!

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Harper looks like a baby bird. We’ve been calling her Turkey, but Eagle is also appropriate!

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– Moms –

As of last night, we have each officially held both babies! We are still holding up pretty well, but it’s crazy how exhausting being in the NICU all day is. It seems like it would be a lot of sitting around, but our nurses really encourage us to participate in their cares every three hours, so we are changing them, talking to them, taking their temperatures, and repositioning them a ton. (Not to mention the emotional toll it takes to see you babies with tubes taped all over their sweet faces and a PICC line in their tiny arms!) We going home to sleep every night, and when Ashley pumps we just call the nurse for an update. We are giving the dogs lots of cuddles when we get home because they aren’t getting as much attention as they’re used to lol.

We both had a rough night¬†Friday night, I think it gets harder and harder to leave as they improve each day. They are so alert, and they will sometimes cry just to get you to come over and rub their heads or give them their binky. On Friday, I was looking into Elliott’s eyes, rubbing his head, and I called him “Rohen” by accident. It felt like a knife in my heart. It feels incredibly unfair to Elliott and Harper to not be there 100% because Rohen is still so heavy on my heart. And it feels equally unfair to Rohen that it hasn’t even been a year since his death and my heart now belongs to two more babies. Ashley had a rough day Friday¬†too, and we both had to cry it out when we got home. Then, we ate some weinershnitzel and went to bed. Is there anything a corn dog can’t fix? The reality of what is happening crashes down in waves sometimes, but for the most part we are feeling very positive and optimistic.

We were told yesterday¬†to stop bringing in breast milk because our “breast milk basket runneth over” haha. Ashley is lactating like crazy, which is awesome. They’ve told us to start freezing it at home and we can bring it in when they run low at the hospital. Our freezer door is already full of bottles, so we are doing great with that.

We have little improvements every day! The general consensus is that they are maturing slower than would be expected but they are still improving. They are just slow, and we have to be patient with them. We aren’t anticipating any long-term issues at all. We’er starting to look forward to being transferred to the Continuing Care Nursery, where we will have private rooms and the babies will focus on eating and gaining weight. We took a tour yesterday and it seems really nice and comfortable. We really just can’t wait until this is all over and we can take out littles ones home. It sucks not being able to pick them up and snuggle whenever we feel like it!

We will post more updates as they come, thanks again to everyone for your support!

‚̧ Devan

NICU Days Three, Four and Five

It’s unbelievable how quickly the last four days have gone by. It feels like everything has changed so frequently that every day just sort of blends together. The twins have been having lots a visitors and have been getting a lot of attention! Here’s the rundown on how they are each doing: NICU Day Three was Monday, Nov 10th NICU Day Four was Tuesday, Nov 11th NICU Day Five is today, Wednesday Nov 12th ¬† IMG_3829

Elliott and Harper, pre-extubation! 

– Elliott –

IMG_3762 Elliott was extubated on Tuesday morning and is tolerating it SO well! He is breathing a little fast, but he’s not working as hard to draw each breath as before. Our doctor today said that breathing fast isn’t as concerning as breathing hard, so we are doing well. He got his PICC line, so no more IV pokes! (He had to get on in his scalp, as pictured above. That has since been removed since there isn’t a need for it with the PICC line) Elliott has been put under the phototherapy light due to a little bit of jaundice, which is something we’ve been told will happen on and off through the duration of our stay. IMG_3969 Elliott is currently undergoing feedings of Ashley’s breast milk through his feeding tube and is taking in about 3ml every 3 hours and he is tolerating those very well. He is on NIPPV, which is airway support given through his nose instead of a breathing tube, and he’s on room air with that (meaning he does’t need any extra oxygen to keep his O2 saturation up). Because he’s tolerating the NIPPV and tube feedings so well, we were allowed one hour of holding time today. Usually they like to have them do kangaroo care (skin-to-skin) for several hours, but he is on phototherapy and had to get back under his light. He loved being held, sucked a lot on Ashley’s skin and only got upset and restless when he heard Harper crying during her cares. IMG_3905 IMG_3923 IMG_3900 I can’t wait to get my hands on him tomorrow… There’s something so precious about feeling a soft, warm baby on your chest. It melts my butter every time! We also got to SMELL him for the first time while he was on her chest, which sounds weird, but most women I know LOVE the smell of a baby’s head. My baby smells the best so far ūüėČ Elliott LOVES his binky! Just over the course of today he progressed to being able to hold it in his mouth on his own. Overall, Elliott is advancing really well and we are so proud of him. He needed a little baby enema today to get things moving, but he had a nice big poop for mommy to clean up shortly after, and he didn’t waste any time going ballistic and letting us know he needed his diaper changed. He woke up from a dead sleep, flung his arms out and started screaming! His weight this evening when we left was 3 lb 15 oz, so we are almost to 4! What a little overachiever. IMG_3979

– Harper –

IMG_3822 Harper isn’t doing quite as well as her brother, but she’s still looking pretty good for such a tiny thing! She was also extubated on Tuesday morning! Her tube feeds were started at 1ml every 6 hours, but she wasn’t tolerating them very well. During her¬†cares (every 3-4 hours, during which they are changed, repositioned and have their vitals/measurements taken) the nurse will use a syringe to pull out the contents of the stomach through the feeding tube. If there is a little bit of partially digested breast milk, they will send it right back through the tube. Harper has had a lot of residual, and it is not just milk. There is a lot of bile and mucous, and her belly was very distended. IMG_3957

You can see the residual in the syringe in this picture. Also, this is a yawn and not a cry!

She was made NPO (nothing by mouth) after her first feed this morning, then our doctor put her back on feedings. We stayed for her last cares this evening before heading home and she had quite a bit, so we are assuming she will be NPO through the night. With preemies, we worry about NEC, which is when the intestines become infected and die. The baby may need surgery or may just need antibiotics, but either way it’s scary. Luckily, our nurse today told us she doesn’t think that is what’s going on since the baby will usually be very lethargic and have a fever when NEC is present. She had an abdominal X-ray yesterday and it was totally clear, so we just need to be patient with her and keep an eye on her bowels. She had an enema today as well, and that was also very successful. (We have great poopers!) Harper’s breathing is still a little labored, but it’s still improving. There are no plans to intubate her again, we are just going to keep going with the NIPPV. She doesn’t like room air very much, we tried to bring her down to RA a few times and her sats dropped each time, so she is receiving just a little bit of supplemental oxygen. She loves laying prone (on her belly) and breathes the best when she’s in that position. We still can’t get over how hairy these kids are, and we laugh every time she has her phototherapy goggles (I call them sunglasses) taken off, since the pressure from them leaves indentations in her face and head. I think she looks like a little shar pei puppy with those wrinkly eyes. IMG_3778

Benjamin Button!

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Thriller! 

IMG_3932 She just has the sweetest face and I can’t wait to get my hands on her! Though she’s a bit behind her brother, we are just keeping in mind that she was drastically smaller, had the poorly performing placenta and wasn’t even breathing when she was born. All things considered, this kid is kicking ass and taking names and we are so proud of her. When we weighed her today during her cares, she weighed 2 lb 10 oz (down an ounce, not bad!) IMG_4003 I also got a picture of her hand next to my tattoo of Rohen’s hand (actual size) IMG_3752

– Moms –

Ashley was discharged from the hospital yesterday! Even though we were staying in the same hospital, we spent more time today with them than we did while she was also a patient there. When we were staying there, we had to be back in her room for vitals, meals, meds and the like. Today we were able to stay from about 9am-9pm, only leaving to have a late lunch in the cafeteria. Yesterday, we missed out on a lot of time with them since we ended up waiting in our room for the doctor to come by for HOURS. When we finally got home, we threw some cozy clothes into the washer and I took a 25 minute power nap (I didn’t sleep at all through this whole thing… over the 4 nights we spent in the hospital, I slept for about 9 hours total.) We headed back over to the hospital for a while for cares and then went home and slept in our own bed. Ashley woke up to pump a few times overnight and I took the bottles downstairs to the fridge, but we were both so sleepy that we fell right back to sleep after each pumping. Speaking of pumping, Ashley is one hell of a lactator! (Is that a word?) We were laughing so hard while she was manually expressing this morning because a jet of milk just came shooting out of her. She’s getting more and more each pumping session, and that is so great since there are two little mouths to feed and breast milk is the best option for them. IMG_3971 IMG_4005 When we were admitted, I noticed some signs up for a meet and greet in the family room that was being organized by the NICU Parent Advisory Board, a group of NICU graduate parents. We get kicked out of the unit from 7-7:30 every day for shift change anyway, and the sign said there would be free food so we decided to check it out. There was only one current mom there, but there were 6 former NICU moms who shared some amazing stories with us. We had such a good time with them, just talking about our stories and getting some really great advice. One of the moms there gave birth at 27 weeks after becoming infected with listeria from eating lunchmeat ONCE. (So yes, it does happen and no, we weren’t crazy for avoiding lunch meat through this pregnancy!) Her son has very mild cerebral palsy but is otherwise just fine. One of the best things we were told was that no matter what happens, no matter how hard things get, you will rise to the occasion. The mother who said this has twin girls who were born at 29 weeks, one of whom has cerebral palsy. She said that when you are a mother to a NICU baby, you just have the strength to handle whatever you are thrown. Her girls came home on heart monitors and feeding tubes (something we likely won’t need to do) but she was so happy just to have them home, no matter how much she had to work to do. No matter what comes up, you just handle it and keep moving on. One of our nurses told us today that we didn’t have to be there every day and that it was OK to not come in at all some days. I was horrified at the thought since our plan is to be there 9-9 every day, and the moms there told us that they spent 12 hours per day EVERY day at the bedside and that we aren’t crazy for wanting to do the same. (Phew!) I just can’t imagine not being there for them, and if something were to happen I would just be so upset. We are participating in their cares as much as possible, mostly just taking their temperatures and changing their diapers. I think most women know how to change a diaper, but no matter how many you’ve changed, it doesn’t prepare you for the terror of changing a 2 lb baby! They are just so tiny! They invite us to participate in weighing them now, so we get to pick them up while they zero out the scale in their beds. They get over stimulated so easily, so it’s nice to have times every 3-4 hours when we can interact with them without the goggles, phototherapy lights, positioning aides and everything else. We are just so in awe of these little people… we like to think about the fact that one day these kids will go to prom. They will play sports (or act, or play piano, or whatever!) and will go on field trips and sleepovers… We are moms now, it’s incredible. We love them endlessly, breathlessly, just more than we can explain. Sorry to squeeze three days into one post, we will try to update quick little developments each evening after we leave the NICU for the day! Thanks again to all of your for your unending support and love. Harper and Elliott don’t know how lucky they are!! ‚̧ Devan and Ashley

NICU Day Two

It’s been almost two days since these littles made the decision to come out when they damn well pleased! It is now NICU day three, but we haven’t been in to see them yet today. NICU Day Two was November 9th, 2014.

– Harper –

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Miss Harper is still intubated. After the bleeding in her lungs stopped, they did a repeat platelet count and it was completely normal. She’s not having any trouble with bleeding right now, so we can relax on that front. She has jaundice, so she is undergoing phototherapy (I think she looks like a cabaret singer with that spotlight on her!)

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She wasted absolutely NO time catching up with her brother and flipping the bird. That makes both babies officially vulgar and hilarious like their moms within 24 hours of their births. Nicely done, the apple clearly doesn’t fall far from the tree!

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She’s not the smallest baby in our “pod” (5 babies are being treated in our pod, separated by curtains) but her veins are still so small that they are wanting to place a PICC line to save her from having her IVs go bad over and over. She isn’t receiving feedings yet, but instead she is receiving TPN which is specialized nutrition that is administered through her IV. She’s getting a customized amount of nutrients to meet her needs. Once her breathing is stable, they will insert an NG tube to feed her Ashley’s pumped collostrum. She hasn’t had a bath yet because she has been so sensitive to every little movement, and they want to avoid doing anything to her that could lead to more distress. Even without a bath, we can see that Harper is a blonde and her hair appears to be nice and curly. The nurses have started letting us participate in her care every four hours, so we got to change a diaper and take her temperature yesterday.

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During her care, she opened her eyes for us so we could see her pretty face without her sunglasses. (She looks a little inconvenienced!)

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She stayed pretty stable through the night, and the nurse said that she didn’t do much for her at all. Rest is the key right now.

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– Elliott –

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Elliott had a rough night on Saturday and had to be intubated early in the morning on Sunday. He is working very hard to breathe, you can tell by the way his chest pulls in when he takes a breath. He was intubated and given surfactant, which will help his lungs to function properly. He does really well when he’s laying on his tummy, and when the doctor came by last night he doing well enough for her to write an order for extubation this morning at 5:30am.

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Unfortunately, he didn’t do well through the night. He was still continuing to struggle and they did raise up his oxygen level through the vent. He is really running the show at this point, we just have to wait for him to be ready to come down off the vent and onto NIPPV (the type of respiratory support he was on before being intubated). We were able to participate in his care as well, changing diapers and taking temperatures. Ashley sat with him and talked to him and was actually able to get his eyes to open as well, so we were able to see both twins’ cute little eyes! He hasn’t had a bath yet either, but we can tell that he has nice dark hair.

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Our moms came by and got to watch the babies receive their care, and my sister Sarah came by last night to visit them as well. We are expecting a lot of visitors today, lots of people are exited to meet these kids! Ashley and I really can’t wait to hold them… It’s frustrating to see them there and not be able to just scoop them up and snuggle them. Their nervous systems are still developing, and any type of stroking of their skin is very unpleasant to them. All we can do is rest our hands gently on them for now, but we should be able to hold them in a few days. We are hoping that they can be extubated within a few days as well.

The good thing about all of this is that everyone is on the same page and agrees that there is nothing happening here that is uncommon. 32 weeks is very early, and they have a lot of catching up to do. We feel very lucky, especially because the other babies in our pod are not as big and healthy as ours. The goal for discharge for them is still looking at about 35-36 weeks adjusted, which is 3-4 weeks from now (Thanksgiving-ish!) We can’t wait to get our hands on them and never let go.

Ashley is having a pretty rough time, she’s having a lot of pain and discomfort coupled with the stress of having two sick babes and having to travel back and forth from the NICU to visit with them. She spent a lot of time standing at their bedsides yesterday, and it took a lot out of her. She’s been very resistant to taking painkillers since she’s pumping, but everyone involved in their care has agreed that the risk to the babies is minimal and it’s in her best interest to get some relief and spend some more time with the babies. On the other end of that, she has been incredibly groggy and is actually sleeping her percocet off right now before we head down to the NICU for the first time today.

We were anticipating going down for the extubation at 5:30 so we woke up and pumped at 5, which sucked considering the fact that we didn’t go to bed until 2. Ashley stayed up for a while and wrote her blog post while I slept for a couple of hours, and now we have swapped and she is taking her nap. We’ve met with the midwife that was present at the c-section today and everything looks great, she is healing well and they believe that vaginal birth would definitely be an option for her in the future because the c-section went so smoothly. We’ve been pumping every 2-3 hours and sending it to the NICU to be frozen, and she’s producing a great amount.

I’ve started the process of getting their birth certificates worked out (we both want to be on them, since we are legally married in AZ now!) and it’s going to be a pain in the ass. Vital records doesn’t even know how to go about this, so I’m waiting for a supervisor to call me back.

The nurses in the NICU are great about calling when there are changes and they haven’t touched base yet today, so the twins should be doing fine. We will head over there as soon as Ashely wakes up and pumps, and tomorrow we will have a NICU day 3 post for you all!

Thanks again to everyone for your support. Don’t forget to like their Facebook page for more frequent pictures and updates!

Devan

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

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! ūüėČ

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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 РHe 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