Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Two days to go until Julia moves in

They are seven weeks old yesterday and on Friday we'll have our first child home with us. She was supposed to be home today but her feedings weren't going quite as well as they anticipated, so they decided not to push too hard. I spoke with the doctor this afternoon and sure enough, everybody is ready for Friday. Bill and I have been frantically getting the nursery together and we are just about done and ready. We still don't have a rocker/glider type chair but we're working on it!

The plan is for Braddock to come home on Sunday. So Julia will get one day as queen of the castle and then Braddock will be here too. I begged the doctor to tell me when Griffin would be home but they just aren't sure yet. He said definitely by our due date (Oct. 31) but hopefully sooner. So I guess within a month, we'll finally not be practically living in Morristown. I have been there so long now, I think I'll miss it, but I'm ready to start raising my babies. Albeit terrified but ready.

I was home in Mass. for Heather's wedding and my shower over the weekend. It was so hard to leave but Bill was in charge at the NICU and he enjoyed his time with our babies without me showing him how I would do it.... My weekend was great. The wedding was so beautiful and I was so happy to be the Matron of Honor for the prettiest bride I've ever seen. And my Mom gave me such a great shower! I only wish I had more time to sit and talk with everybody there to catch up and to somehow convey how grateful I am for all the love and support I've been shown throughout my pregnancy and after their arrival. Being surrounded by all that love was so therapeutic for me. It's been a long road to get to the point of bringing babies homeIt was like being wrapped in the softest, warmest blanket.

Ok, pictures to come soon. We've been so crazy trying to get ready for Julia's arrival, I haven't had much time but I'm sure once she and Braddock are here, I'll have nothing but free time to update and post pictures and video.... This, of course, is a joke, but I am going to do my very best to update.

Today I took the infant CPR course and was given a bath demo. They had eye exams and their hearing exams should be tomorrow. Things are just rolling right along. Tomorrow is the car seat test. Julia will sit in her car seat for an hour with all her monitors on so that they can make sure she'll be okay on the ride home. I can only imagine what it must be like for a baby that has only ever been in the NICU to suddenly go outside in the cool air and hear all the loud sounds of cars and trucks and airplanes and then get into a car..... it must be such complete sensory overload. Look out world, here comes Julia DiMasi. Braddock and Griffin to follow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another day closer to getting home

Griffin sleeping while Braddock's little hand is resting on his arm

Julia checking our her surroundings
Here is Braddock taking his bottle. He is a bit of a guzzler but he is really getting the hang of it. Now the talk is that he'll be the first to go home. I think the truth is that every day is different and nobody knows what is going to happen next. Watch it be Griffin to end up first at home.

The word on Griffin is that his nurse today (Gail is her name and she's so good to our little monkeys) thought that maybe the reason he struggles to breathe deep enough to oxygenate his blood is that he might have a reflux issue when he is digesting, so she took his gavage tube ( the white tube that goes through their noses to their stomachs to feed them) and his nasal cannula out to see if he was more comfortable. She fed him with a bottle and he ate very well and didn't have nearly the trouble he was having when they fed him through the tube over an hour and a half. We'll see what is going on when I get there in the morning.

Braddock and Julia are both doing very well, too. Braddock is the most alert when it is time to eat and so he is taking the bottle more often than Julia. In order to come home they have to maintain their own temperature in an open air crib, have no help breathing, and take all their feeds by bottle or breast. So both Braddock and Julia are in the crib, breathing on their own without any apnea episodes, and now they are both taking their feedings by bottle. They average about every other feeding. They seem pretty wiped out after them since taking the bottle is so much work. I gave each one bottle today and tried to nurse each one. Neither are too interested in nursing but they tell me they are still a bit too young to be expected to get it. We'll keep trying.

At one point today I had Julia in the kangaroo care position (tucked inside my shirt so that she and I were skin-to-skin) There are many benefits to the babies to do this and also for me to help with milk production. Anyway, I was holding her that way and Griffin needed to be burped, so I told Gail (our nurse for today) to put him on my free shoulder and I would try to handle them both at once. Many of the nurses and doctors that were there enjoyed watching me struggle to make sure both their necks were supported, trying to soothe Julia and burp Griffin. The funny part, of course, is that I still have one more baby to care for and no more hands. Lucky for me, Braddock was fast asleep in the crib. I'm like the old lady who lived in a shoe....and I have to say, I couldn't be happier about it no matter how hard it is going to be.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Together at last, together forever...

It took 40 days but for the first time in their lives, Griffin, Julia and Braddock shared a crib. Bill and I walked into the NICU this morning and we realized Griffin's isolette wasn't there so we thought we were moved to another section. As we passed the last isolette before the DiMasi corner, we saw the crib and then we saw three matching blankets and our three little babies in a row all together. It was so much fun to see. Only Braddock was awake because it was closest to his time to eat. He was looking at Griffin probably wondering where Griffin had been for the last 40 days. We've made great strides of late. All three have tried to nurse with me and they've all tried to take a bottle as well. Griffin's requiring less and less help with his breathing and Julia and Braddock are doing it all on their own. So really they are more than halfway home. Julia may be coming home within just two weeks. Braddock is right on her heels and Griffin will be right behind him. We are now trying to get a nursery ready. We didn't do anything about it because it was much too early before I started bed rest and we've been at the hospital as often as we can be since they were born. All three cribs are put together and it is starting to look like a kids room. We decided to go with chocolate brown and white stars for our theme -- very difficult to go with too much pink or too much blue. Brown is neutral yet stylish, right? We'll have some pink in Julia's crib for now. I bet she likes to play with trucks instead of dolls since her playmates will be twin boys. I hope she likes shopping with her Mom.... until she's 13 and that is so not cool anymore.

Finn just came over to see the video. He seems to know there are new DiMasis for him to love but then again Bill and I think he can talk to us so perhaps he has no real idea of what he's in for. I bring home their laundry and let him sniff it all before I wash it, so at the very least he knows there are new scents coming to the house. We'll let him soak up all the love of being the only one until he becomes just a dog.

Okay, that's all for tonight. We'll have a very busy week at Morristown Memorial feeding and growing and staying warm. More soon.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My babies are growing! My babies are growing!

I just can't believe that by Monday, we'll have three babies weighing over four pounds. Julia is 3 lbs 13.4 oz, Griffin is 3 lbs 14 oz and Braddock is 4 lbs 1.1 oz. Braddock is back up to full feeds, so his weight should start to climb again. The great news on Griffin is that his CPAP is still off and he is loving his smaller, more comfortable nasal cannula. They've lowered his flow every day (meaning the pressure at which the oxygen goes through the tubes) and he is almost on room air. We couldn't be happier for him. He is smiling just like Braddock all the time now. We can tell the boys are identical now.

Julia pooped all over Bill today while he tried to change her diaper. It was such a mess and she was very happy with herself. He just laughed.

What else? Braddock was in the open air crib with Julia, but this morning when I arrived he was back in an isolette. He just couldn't keep himself warm so they aren't going to push him. Weight gain is more important at this stage, and they can't gain weight if they are using all their energy to stay warm. Julia is borderline with her temperature every day but she is still gaining weight, so she's staying out for now.

I can't believe it is Friday already. The days seem long but the weeks are flying by. They've been alive 38 days now... that's 38 days closer to coming home. What a great day that is going to be.

Off to do all the laundry that the NICU sends home with us!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So many updates, so little time

I will just update quickly because it's been a long day.... but a very good one for the corner of the NICU filled with DiMasis. Julia is maintaining her temperature and gaining weight, so for now she's staying in the open air bassinet. She had been on the cusp of going back into an isolette, but today her temp was great all day. Since all the x-rays and blood work were negative, Braddock started his feeds again -- albeit at a much lower amount but he's eating again, and that was the first goal. On top of that good news, he had his nasal cannula removed altogether and he is breathing just fine on his own. And if that weren't enough good news, our friend Griffin had his CPAP removed as a trial and he was doing really well with just his small nasal cannula tubes! He was so wide awake and alert when they made the switch. He was holding my fingers and kicking his feet -- probably just thrilled that his face wasn't all squished from the tubes. Now that I'm home, I want to call every five minutes to see how it is going, but I will resist that urge. I'd rather the nurses be doing their jobs taking care of all the tiny miracles residing at Morristown Memorial than answer my calls.

So that is really it. It was so nice to see such progress. This picture is of Griffin today. Not the greatest shot because his nostrils were so stretched from the CPAP. It will take a few days to shrink down. The swelling in his eyes should go away quick, and his head will take about a week to reshape itself from the hat he had to wear to keep the CPAP on. Good thing babies are so pliable. We're so proud of how hard all three are working just to feed and grow. Whatever happens in my life that seems difficult, when I watch my beautiful children fight just to keep breathing on their own, I know I have nothing to complain about.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Two steps forward, one step back

A neonatologist described the progress of preemies as two steps forward, one step back, and that's exactly how it's been. The open air crib for two has been put aside for now and Braddock is back in an isolette. He had a small setback this Saturday because the nurses found blood in his stool. They immediately think infection, so they didn't want him right next to Julia. We were on our way in Saturday when the phone rang from the doctor explaining to us what was going on. Just to be cautious, they stopped feeding Braddock and gave him an IV, tested his blood, x-rayed his abdomen... things like that. The blood tests showed no sign of infection -- total relief -- and he isn't acting sick in any way. They think it could be an allergy to milk protein, so the doctor asked that I limit my dairy intake for the time being. The breast milk I give them is fortified with extra calories, and there is some traces of milk protein in there, so that could be it. They also said that because he had gone to an open air crib -- and to you and I that would be no big deal -- he had to work really hard just to regulate his body temperature and that stress may have been the culprit as well. It made us sad to see him with his IV and the little splint that holds the IV on his arm. The good thing was his color was fine and he was still smiling and stick his tongue out. They should resume his feeds very soon and we'll see how it goes.

Julia and Griffin are doing just fine. Julia was put into a smaller open air bassinet. She is still in the same room with the boys but I can't imagine it will be much longer. Yesterday there was a tiny little baby born that came into the spot right next to us. There is a lot of chaos as they bring in the new babies. we couldn't even get to Griff's isolette for a while because they were doing some kind of procedure. I know they were expecting twins later yesterday afternoon, so I'm sure they are considering moving Julia and perhaps Braddock to make room. We'll see what happens there.

So for now we had a little hiccup but everybody is fine. Braddock reached 4 pounds 1 oz on Saturday morning before they stopped the feeds. We can't believe how HUGE he looks to us. Hopefully he is eating again and keeps up the rapid growth! Griffin and Julia are 3 lbs 8 oz. Such big babies now -- well, relatively speaking. When the full termers come into the NICU, they look like giants to us.

I'll keep the updates coming and get some of the latest photos/videos up. I held both Julia and Braddock together for the first time on Friday. It was the first time I realized how badly I need one more hand!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Some still pics of the crib full o' DiMasis

Here they are enjoying being close together again!

Two out of three ain't bad!

Today was a big day because I walked into the NICU about the same time I do every morning and the place was all abuzz... the doctors were doing their rounds and it seemed like there were twice as many babies as there were when I left last night. One of the nurses said it was as if someone sprinkled pixie dust and babies just appeared. So I weave my way in and out of traffic to get to our little corner and I only see Griffin's isolette. I worried immediately, but as I turned the corner, I saw an open air crib and two of my three little chickens all swaddled neatly laying right next to each other. It was such a beautiful sight. There's a touch of sadness because I want Griffin to be in that crib, too, but we'll take what we can get! Griffin will get there. He is on his own schedule for now and that is just fine, too. He's been alert lately and we've had fun holding his hands and watching him smile and stretch his little legs. As he has an easier time with his breathing, he will be more alert. Right now it takes all his energy to keep those lungs working, so he tends to sleep more.

Julia and Braddock may end up moving to the step down room any minute now -- the room where the babies go on their way to going home. Griffin will have to stay where he is for now. That is upsetting to Bill and I, but I'm sure it will be just fine. What is happening now is that we're taking up more space on the critical side than we actually need, so as more babies come in, we'll get bumped. The nurses this morning set up the crib and put Braddock and Julia in it to save space in an effort to keep our three together. It was a smart move but throughout the day a set of twins came in and they were expecting another baby this evening.

In other news, Julia is learning to breastfeed now. It's going pretty well. They don't expect them to start this before 33 weeks and that is tomorrow for us, so we decided to try it. Braddock will start this soon, too. I'm learning how to hold them so I could feed two babies at once. Pretty exciting stuff.

There is probably much more to update but I'll post this now and let you see the latest video of Griffin. Enjoy and I will update again soon! well, just enjoy the video of Griffin.... I can't seem to get the video of the crib to load and I'm too tired to keep trying.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Four weeks tomorrow

A quick update just to say that all is well at the NICU and all three DiMasi babies are growing bigger and stronger every day. I have been taking video and will post some more very soon. We have had our first poop explosion -- well, Dad did -- and he even captured it on film. I will post it, but I'll put a warning up before the post just in case you don't want to see it. We know now to have the diaper in place because anything can happen. At least we know that Braddock is digesting the breast milk REALLY well.

All three are over three pounds now. Julia is 3 lbs 1 oz. Braddock is 3 lbs 9 oz and Griffin is 3 lbs 5 oz. They are all getting big... or at least they look big to us until we compare them with full termers.

I'll have more to say soon and more video for you to enjoy.

Friday, September 5, 2008

More video, please....

Everybody seems to want more video, so we are going to add some tonight! Last night I got a chance to bathe little Miss Julia and get her all dressed and ready to eat and sleep. She didn't like me very much throughout the process, and even though I'm a hair dresser, I didn't do a great job with the combout after I washed her hair!!! She didn't have too much to work with -- or at least that is the excuse I'm using. She was happy as could be after she was all dressed up and swaddled and ready to eat. While I was doing the bathing, Bill was holding Braddock, who was wearing clothes for the first time!! He also is off his CPAP now and doing very well with his new, more comfortable breathing apparatus. We'll post video of him next. Now if only Griffin will follow suit-- soon enough, I know. He is requiring less and less oxygen and doing much better the past couple of days, too. His weight keeps going up and his lungs will start to get stronger very soon.

Here is Griffin, too. Unfortunately, he was fast asleep so this video isn't very exciting, but he is so cute!

Enjoy the videos. We'll have more time this weekend to get more moments on film.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Three weeks and one day and counting...

Just a very quick update -- and I know these updates aren't much fun without some video or pictures and I apologize for that -- to say everything is going fine. All three are doing well and growing every day. I'm heading over there now and I will take some pictures to post tonight. I've started working a little bit again and life is starting to get back to normal -- whatever that is with three kids in the NICU. I'm able to walk my dog and make dinner. Well, I have yet to make dinner but I plan on it every day; I just run out of time. Yesterday I held both Julia and Braddock. Griffin is looking much better and slowly starting to maintain his breathing a bit better so we'll be holding him more consistently soon. They aren't pushing him so as to not set him back. Being as impatient as I am known to be, I want him breathing better now! I want the all home already for that matter, but we are seeing improvement every day which is all we can ask for. I'm getting much more calm when I'm holding one of the kids and they forget to breath or their neck isn't positioned well and they cut off their airway. Now I know just to move their head a bit or close their mouth.... it doesn't make me nearly as uneasy as it did. The respiratory therapist sat with me yesterday as I held Braddock and showed me how to move him into a better position should he start to struggle. Luckily it doesn't happen too much, but I know the worst thing to do is to panic. I just can't say enough about all of the staff we are blessed to have working for our babies. Everyone is so genuinely kind and caring, always willing to answer our questions or offer an encouraging word. It takes a special kind of doctor or nurse or therapist to work with the weakest and tiniest among us, and we just couldn't be more assured that we've got all the right people taking care of our kids.

Off to see the babies... Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, September 1, 2008

A sneak peek at Griffin

Finn is getting a shameless plug here. He is anxiously awaiting the arrival of his sister and brothers. He tried to help us put the second of three cribs together today. Or at least he thought he helped....really we had to keep telling him to move out of the way. He's done a great job sniffing the blankets we bring home with the babies' scent on them.

This video is actually old but it is of Griffin and I when he kangaroo'd with me. They have us put the kids inside our shirts so that there is skin-to-skin contact. It helps their development and also helps the Mom's milk production. The neat things for Moms is that when the baby's temperature drops, my body knows instinctively to heat them up. I didn't know I had such capabilities! I just wanted to post some video of him. This is the one day they took him off the CPAP. It didn't work so well for him so he went right back on it but at least we could see his whole face for a little while.

As for what is going on, we have a three-pounder in Braddock! He looks pretty big but the shocker is that Griffin is just about three pounds, too. He was 2 lbs 15 oz yesterday. Julia is now the peanut of the crew at 2 lbs 10.6 oz. She is wearing clothes now and we are allowed to take her out of her crib as we feel like it without the nurses there. We attempted it ourselves this morning for the first time but decided to wait for someone to oversee just in case. We did, however, put her back in all by ourselves. Her nurse last night took pictures of her in her little outfit and left them hanging in her incubator for us when we came in this morning. She now has laundry that I take home and bring back to her. And so begins the never-ending laundry that comes with three babies! When she puts on her preemie clothes, everything has to be rolled up in the arms and is ridiculously baggy, but soon enough she will fit into them. The doctor, again this morning, commented on just how incredible she is for such a premature baby. The boys are starting to turn the corner, too. Braddock should be off his CPAP soon and Griffin's PICC line (long-term IV) should come out any day now. He will have his CPAP longer to help his lungs along, but I'm sure he isn't too far behind Braddock anymore.

So they celebrated their first Labor Day today. I'm not sure they were really aware of it, but one day it will be the Labor Day before they start school....such a hard concept to grasp when I look at their tiny little faces. For now I won't get ahead of myself. We'll just push towards four enormous pounds for each!