Thursday, July 10, 2008

NICU Ups & Downs

It's been 3 weeks since we had the babies!!! Can you believe it?? I am starting to get a schedule down... Pump, Hold Baby, Pump, Hold Baby, Repeat -- Try to eat and nap somewhere in between. My best friend Misty worked out a schedule for me, so I at least kind of have an idea of which baby I am supposed to hold when. At first I was running myself ragged trying to do everything for every baby. I now see why multiple moms are organized and live by a schedule.

Everyone warned me that the NICU is two steps forward and one step back. The doctors say that the NICU stay is filled with speed bumps. And we have hit a couple.

The great news is that all of the babies are doing really well. They have normal preemie issues such as dropping their heart rates and oxygen saturation levels every now and then. BUT they are all gaining weight and all but Briellen are off oxygen! (Briellen is only on room air nasal cannula.) Yesterday, the doctors ordered that they start trying to take a bottle. (They call it "nipple", but I get the giggles saying nipple.) They boys and Sidney did really well, Ivy is still thinking about if it's worth the effort, Briellen can't try until she gets her breathing rate down. They all smile at us everytime we hold them. Every day they fight to get bigger and stronger and we are so proud of them!

Now for the speed bumps...

The first is that Luke, Mitchell and Briellen have large PDA's. (Patent (open) Ductus Ateriosus) This is a blood vessel near the heart and lungs that was necessary for circulation when the babies were in utero. It is meant to close within a few days after birth and then disappear. In 40-50% of preemies born under 34 weeks the vessel stays open. Large PDA's can burden the lungs with too much blood and make it hard for the babies to breath and overload the heart. The PDA's can still close on their own or if they don't and they are not causing breathing or heart issues, we just watch them closely. If they are causing issues, then we have to think about surgery. Luke, Mitchell and Briellen have been asymptomatic so far, so we are just watching them. I am worried that Briellen being still on the oxygen is because of her PDA. I am praying that all of them will close on their own soon.

The next speed bump is that we found out that all of the babies have fragile bones. This is because of all of the magnesium that I had to take. It depleted the calcium in both me and the babies. They x-rayed Briellen for her PDA and found 3 fractured ribs and a fracture in each arm. The bones were not displaced and the fractures were tiny... The good news is she was/is not showing any signs of discomfort. The doctors are increasing the babies nutrition and giving them a vitamin D supplement to build strong bones. In the meantime, we have to handle them carefully and we can't hold them skin-to skin. They have to stay tightly wrapped. It will take a few weeks to resolve.

On a lighter note, another bump that I would like to go away is my belly bump. I finally have the cute belly bump that I never had and look adorable in maternity clothes. The thing that is not so adorable is that there is no baby! A MILLION strangers have made comments on it. Now I know why the guys at work didn't say a word when I first started showing!!

Here are the 3 week pics of the babies... We just love them to death!!

Ivy - 2 lbs. 13 oz.

Mitchell - 3lbs. 6 oz.
Wild Hair After Bath Luke - 3 lbs. 8 oz.
Briellen - 2 lbs. 15 oz.
Sidney - 3 lbs. 4 oz.


  1. Hey Ellen, the babies are soooo cute, I know this has been a really trying few weeks, but it sounds as if the babies are growing and getting much stronger and healthier. I wish you continued healthy progress so you and the babies can come home. Your in our prayers each and every day.


  2. Oh Ellen, they are such sweet little angels. I'm glad to hear that the babies are progressing well. Sawyer had a PDA that we discovered 3weeks after he was born. They had to stop his feedings and give him a medication. They started it on a Friday and were able to resume feeds on Monday. That medicine helped to close up the PDA. I don't know if that is an option for your babies, it may be worth asking the pediatric cardiologist about. We were told that usually when they are 3 weeks out, they don't want to try the medicine because it isn't as affective, but we had a cardiologist who was willing to try and we were so blessed that it worked.

    I am so happy to hear the babies are already moving on to the bottle. You will be amazed as they gain weight how it will make such a difference for them overall.

    Bless their hearts with having the bone issues. I will keep that in my prayers. I pray that they can get them built up. I know you want to do the kangaroo care with them and that it will be a relief not to worry about hurting their skin. I remember we didn't want to even touch Sawyer the first week he was alive because we were afraid of damaging his skin he was so fragile.

    I hope you are hanging in there and can try and get some rest. Yay for you for pumping. It makes you feel so good as a mom to do that. It is one thing you can control in this unpredictable situation. It was one of the few ways I felt like I really could take care of my son.

    I'm at 23 weeks in this pregnancy and so far our little guy is hanging in there. We are hoping to ride this out as long as we can.

    Hang in there. I hope the weeks fly by for you and that all the sweet angels continue to thrive and grow.

    Blessing to all of you!


  3. thank you for taking the time to post this update in the middle of everything that you're tending to their now, ellen. oh my goodness, they already look so much bigger and stronger and alert compared to those first pictures you posted. and i love that after-bath hair on mitchell. :) so, so precious, these little lives.

    you guys are so inspiring with the amazing work your doing now as parents. we are praying for you all-- for good health and strength, of course. but also that you would be able to be present in this very moment put before you. that you can enjoy the feeling of those tiny, warm bodies in your loving arms! :)

  4. They are beautiful! My kiddos had that problem too. They all resolved themselves and Sydney still has one. They are 17mo old. There are no signs of a problem and we will check it once a year. Everything will be great. If you ever have any questions or just want to talk to someone who has been there and done that just send me an email:

    Emily Wright

  5. Oh, my gosh, how precious they are. thanks for keeping us updated on how to pray!! We love you!


  6. Your rollercoaster seems to be one of those from the kiddy section at a carnival - not too many steep drops! They are doing fantastic! LOVE the hair on your little wildman, Mitchell.
    I hope pumping is going well for you. I am finally trying to give it up after 8 months with our quads. Let me know if you'd like any pointers. I remember that Vonnie with lactation services at PCH was always a very good resource for me.
    Keep up your spirits! These times will be distant memories soon. Please email me if you have any questions about ANYTHING! You're doing a great job with those growing miracles.

    Love from KS,

  7. What precious photos...Mitchell's hair is hilarious in that pic of him. Schedules with these guys will save your sanity. What a great friend Misty is to get this set up for you.



    How precious are these little ones!!! Thank you, Ellen, for sharing them with us in this special way and for the particular prayer requests!!

    Hugs from Katy,

  9. Ellen, thank you so much for taking the time to share these updates. We can pray specifically for these precious little ones! And for you and your hubby too!!!

  10. Sidney & Mitchell's pictures look just like you, El! Love them all. Cannot wait to see them in person. REALLY cannot wait. Can't wait to see you too. I love you so much, Aim

  11. The babies look wonderful. Teh NICU is definitely a roller coaster. one of mine had the PDA too and it did resolve with the medicine they gave her. I'm so glad you posted and it sounds like everything is going well overall. Sending you lots of prayers & love. You did an awesome job carrying those babies!
    Urech quads

  12. So glad that everyone is doing so well. The babies are adorable - love all the pics! Hope you're doing very well, too. You, Stephen, and all the babies continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. We love you guys!
    Jess, Drew, Mason, & now little Ian (can't wait for you to meet him)

  13. Those babies are the most adorable babies I've ever seen! You have done such an amazing job as a Mommy already! I cannot even imagine how hard it is on you and Stephen with them being in the NICU, but, WOW, what amazing progess they are making! We will continue to keep all of you in our prayers, and we can't wait to see the 7 of you!

  14. Wow..i am new to your blog and just spent time going back over the older post! You guys are amazing and the babies are adorable!! They are doing so good!
    I live in Houston as well, hope to have you 7 back here in Texas in no time!!
    Prayers from Houston,

  15. They are adorable! I love the wild blond hair!

  16. so very glad to hear that there are more ups and than downs. hoping that the vitamin d does its thing soon so that you can hold the babies without so much fear.

    of all the recent preemies I've read about, never once have I read that someone is using medicine to close the PDA.... wonder if that's something they don't do anymore?? am hoping that they close on their own.

    hang in there...your babies are so very sweet!

  17. E,
    I love the family photo! They are looking bigger and stronger everyday!

    I know these must be trying times, but enjoy being able to hold them while they rest so'll look back a year from now and ask yourself, "Self, did I eat today?, When did I shower last? How have my roots grown out 2 inches already?" Just a few questions your'll find yourself asking, but everyone, so worth it!

    You all are in our thoughts and prayers!