Monday, October 31, 2011

Big Day on Tuesday (prayers needed)

I'm posting a quick update tonight just to let everyone know that Maddy finally made it home and is enjoying being reunited with Sophie.  They're both extremely excited about the idea of having Izzy home to join them.

On that note, Izzy takes a giant step forward tomorrow, Tuesday, with, what we hope will be, her final surgery.  We just found out this morning that Dr. Liu is ready to put her bowel back together.  She's not as large as we hoped she'd be for the surgery, but she's only an ounce away from where he wanted her, at a minimum.  She's dumping now and her stoma is sticking out to a whopping 5 cm.  It's time to put our baby back together.

We're expecting the surgery to begin somewhere between 9:00-11:00am CST and are expecting it to take about 60-90 minutes.  She'll have to be intubated again, as she'll be heavily sedated.  We're expecting nothing but the most positive results and would appreciate any prayers you can send our way.

I'll try to write an update as soon as she's out of surgery for all of those friends, family, and concerned blog followers.

Also, I have lots of pictures from Maddy's trip home and her first interactions with Sophie in their nursery!  I'm too tired to process them tonight or write any more, but they'll be up soon.

No Sweat

Is this all?  This is nothing.

Wait.  There's still more of them?

Well, as we finally settle in and get comfortable with one of our girls at home, we get ready to double our home workload today.  After a few false alarms, Madelyn will be coming home to join Sophia and end her time in the NICU later this afternoon.  She'll come home at a whopping 5 lbs 10 oz which is amazing considering she was born at 2 lbs 8 oz.  She's still having a lot of trouble with reflux, and the rice cereal they started adding several days ago really doesn't seem to be making much of a difference.  While it doesn't appear that she'll be coming home with any monitors, we'll need to continue with her doses of Prevacid and Zantac.  What's really scary is that all of our girls seem to love being held.  Who doesn't, right?  It probably doesn't seem as unmanageable when there's only one.  With the prospect of having three at home before Christmas, it will definitely be something we have to learn how to manage because I know we're each going to want to figure out a way to hold them all at once.  I'm sure we can find a way, but their necks keep getting so strong that if you're not holding on to one of them with both hands, they love building up some momentum and tossing their heads back.  If you're not holding on tight, you'd probably see some back-flips.

Maddy, sleeping through her last days in the NICU

A proud dad, working on his rarely used biceps

Maddy, with those yucky, green vitamins

Isabelle has been doing so well lately. She's up to 1940g or ~4 lbs 5 oz, which seems even more incredible when you remember the fact that she was born at 1 lb 7 oz. All of her labs continue to come back clean, which is something they're really watching because she's been on the TPN for so long. Also, the minor surgery she had a little over a week ago to keep her stoma in check, finally came undone. Now, Dr. Liu wants to do the big surgery sooner rather than later, but still wants her to be a minimum of 2000g, or ~4 lbs 7 oz.  So, we're only a few days away from hitting that target weight, though if she can make it longer and grow larger, without a lot of dumping, that would be ideal.  For now, we're probably looking at having her, hopefully, last major surgery, which will re-attach her intestines, within the next week or two.  Personally, I'm really torn.  I know that the larger she gets, the larger her intestines will grow.  The larger her intestines grow, the higher the likelihood that this surgery will work the first time.  I just want her to come home with her sisters and to be able to hold her without worrying that I'm going to hurt her.

Izzy, getting a lot of rest and growing as a result of it!

Sophie is really adjusting well to being at home. I can't say as much for the parents though. Obviously, we are thrilled to have her here with us, but she just doesn't seem to be as relaxed as she used to be in the NICU and it's definitely messing with our sleep. I'm not complaining, because I wouldn't miss a minute of it, it's just that she doesn't ever really seem to sleep for any extended period of time. I'm not sure if it's gas or if it's reflux or if it's because she's eating too much or too little, she just seems irritable for these small moments that wake her up temporarily, then she drifts back to sleep.  Maybe it's normal.  Maybe it's because they've almost reached 40 weeks GA and they're not going to sleep as much as they did when they were preemies.  All I know is that she keeps growing and we're finding better ways to each get sleep and share the responsibility.

Sophie, enjoying some time on the Boppy

No, before you ask, we don't let her sleep there

Perfect example of post-feeding cuddling to keep her upright

We haven't forgotten that parents need a break, too. Last weekend, we took advantage of some beautiful fall weather and a willing babysitter (thanks mom) and went downtown to watch Penn State beat up on Northwestern. We loaded up the truck with family--Meg, Kelly, Steve, Kaden, John, Jo Anne, and I--and found a great tailgating spot near the stadium. We had a great time, but it really seemed to fly right by. Penn State won. We got to spend time with family. Not much else you can ask for :)

Meg and I at the Penn State vs. Northwestern game last weekend

Meg's dad, John, enjoying some one-on-one time with Sophia

Also, I want to apologize for the apparent loss of any creativity on my part. I remember when I used to sit down with my laptop, process my photos, and had a difficult time deciding what part of our crazy life that I wanted to share. Now, even though I know so much has happened over the last week, I find myself struggling to write with any flow or sense of humor. "Just the facts, Ma'am." That's about all I'm capable of right now. It will get better (I hope).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pull over. We have a blow-out!

No, not a tire, but a baby blow-out!  For several days, it had seemed as if Sophia was never going to get settled.  She was irritable and gassy.  Well, that all changed on Friday.  As if someone had pushed the lever and opened the floodgates, Sophie exploded in a disastrous, albeit enjoyably relieving, mess.  Her seemingly impermeable diaper finally revealed it's true porous self as the eruption escaped from the front, back, and sides.  I'm not gonna lie, it was disgusting.  I never understood how some little being that barely weighs five pounds could produce what seemed like five pounds of waste.  There was no way to just change the diaper and move on.  This required the full bath treatment.  Seriously, it was up her chest on the front and between her shoulder blades on her back.  Yuck!

You don't have to tell these parents twice.  We took the advice of so many that responded to the last post and decided we'd use the pink tub from the NICU and give her a bath in the sink.  MUCH BETTER this time around.  We turned on the faucet and played with the temperature until the green light on the temperature turtle showed us we were in the sweet spot for bath time.  While Meg washed her hair, I actually ran the water right on her belly.  It was like spa day at Chambre des DeBauche!  She looked like she was in heaven.  WAY different than poop time in the pool last weekend.  I decided against posting any proof as to protect the innocent :)

Sophia, post-spa treatment

As you may have guessed by now, due to my lack of excitement around bringing another baby home, Maddy had an "episode" on Friday, so the go-home clock was reset. If there's a silver lining to having to spend another week in the NICU, it's that we get to practice just a little longer with just our guinea pig Sophia.  She's still having a lot of trouble with reflux.  Also, I'm going to go ahead and deem her "the fussy one."  Who knows?  She could prove me wrong.  I absolutely hope so.  So, for now, we're planning on bring her home this Friday.  If she has another episode this week and her go-home date slips to next week, there's a high probability they'll send her home on a monitor.  It's not the worst thing that could happen, but her random episodes are the only things that are keeping her from coming home at this point.  Plus, the NICU won't keep them past their original due date, 11/4, if it's just a matter of monitoring her breathing--that becomes our job. 

Maddy, patiently waiting for mom and dad to rescue her from the NICU

Izzy is doing very well. She's up to 3 lbs 13 oz. She had minor surgery this past Wednesday to get her stoma under control.  Basically, it kept creeping out to the point that it measured 3.75cm, which is pretty long if you measure it out.  They did have to put her under anesthesia, so that's always a little scary and they also had to intubate her, but immediately took it out once the surgery was over.  She still has (hopefully just) one surgery ahead of her to re-connect her intestines.  The story is still the same though.  The goal is to get her to grow as large as possible while balancing her liver stats because of the TPN with how much food she's able to digest with the portion of intestines she has between her stomach and stoma.  If she stops growing, starts dumping, or shows signs of liver distress, they'll perform the remaining surgery.  She's been such a fighter so far, so I'm thinking she'll continue to work through whatever she needs to so she can grow as big as she possibly can.  It does mean that she'll most likely be in the NICU until sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it also means a higher likelihood of having a successful surgery.

These girls have no idea how much they're loved.  I can't wait to get them home!

Izzy, checking out her Nana (my mom)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bathtime Surprise

We're starting to settle in...a little.   We're finding ways to get more sleep, mostly because we're trying to divide up the time so everyone isn't up all of the time.  Having my mother here the last few days has been a great help.  I took her to the NICU so the nurses could show her how to feed the girls since we haven't perfected the technique yet.  If you looked at the burp cloth after a feeding, some might actually think I was intentionally trying to feed the burp cloth instead of Sophia.  I'm not sure how so much of it ends up coming out the sides of her mouth, but the nurses do a much better job, so I thought they should show my mom the "right" way.

My mom has been tremendously helpful with meals and with bottle preparation and clean-up.  She's also taken over some of the transitional shift times like early in the morning, when Meg needs to catch-up on the sleep she missed at night and when I need to get ready for work.  She's also staying up a little later to give Meg a few hours to sleep on the front-end of the night shift.

My mom with Sophia

Eventually, we're going to get our girl to sleep at night and be awake during the day, but the NICU is kind of like a casino--there's constant stimulation and you have no sense of day and night--so, she's mistakenly got them turned upside down and doesn't yet understand that babies (parents) need to sleep between 11:00pm and 5:00am.  She'll get there though.

Over the last couple of months, the NICU has been giving the girls a bath on Saturdays and Tuesdays.  We took advantage of the coaching and started doing it ourselves a while back. It was our turn to try it at home.  Wow, did we fail miserably!  Our biggest lessons learned were:
  1. Leaning over the normal bathtub to reach in to the baby bathtub and give a bath, kills your knees, even with a towel.
  2. There's not enough room for two people to kneel next to the bathtub in the girls' bathroom without straddling the toilet from the ground with your legs (not cool when it's you that's doing the straddling).
  3. Giving her a bath in the NICU was much easier than doing it at home.
  4. Babies will not hesitate to poop in the water (I mistakenly thought they just peed in the water).
  5. We need to try harder and be more prepared.
  6. Babies will not hesitate to poop in the drying towel.
  7. Babies will not hesitate to poop in the SECOND drying towel.
  8. They look adorable when they're super clean.
  9. You can give a 37-weeker a mini-mohawk when her hair is still wet.
 Well, maybe we didn't fail.  Heck, she's still alive isn't she!

Sophia, with a " Who, me?" look on her face after dirtying up the tub and two towels

One of the issues we're struggling with is how much tummy time we give her.  She definitely seems to be struggling with gas/poop and is much more irritated when we have her flat on her back or slightly inclined in the bouncy chair.  Our pediatrician told us it has to do with preemies at this age not being able to release their butt cheeks when they're trying to pass gas.  Apparently, they don't know that you need to let the cheeks go to let if flow.  She gets super tense and actually holds everything inside.  She'll learn. 

We noticed when giving her some tummy time, that she seems way more comfortable.  Maybe it's because her butt is up in the air and the gas is rising to the highest point to get out.  Whatever the reason, she loves it.  The dilemma we have now is that the NICU told us that they're too old to sleep on their stomach.  When they were younger, ~32-35 weeks, the nurses put them on their stomach to help with the reflux that both Maddy and Sophie were having.  There's a big campaign led by the NICHD called "Back to Sleep," which is meant to remind parents that you can reduce the risk of SIDS by placing healthy babies on their backs to sleep, not on their stomachs.  It's just our luck that our babies stay up all of the time when they're on their backs and really only seem to get restful sleep when they're on their stomachs.

So, Meg and I are going back and forth, weighing the risk of letting them sleep on their stomachs with the risk of them not growing because their not getting any real rest.  For the last day and a half, we've been putting Sophia on her stomach when we're awake and someone is watching her.  At night, she stays on her back and no one gets any sleep.  Meg took Sophia to her first visit with our new pediatrician yesterday and both the nurse and our doctor said that it was all right to use a movement monitor called Angelcare to safely allow her to sleep on her stomach and give us peace of mind.  I'm going to do a little more research before I feel comfortable enough to actually try it, but if it really does work, I may get my wife back!

Meg, "watching" Sophia in the morning.  The best moms can see with their eyes closed :)

The nurses decided to try and ween Maddy off of her last little bit of oxygen yesterday. When we called in to the NICU later in the evening, she was still handling it just fine. Meg is going to visit with Izzy and Maddy a little later this afternoon and, if Maddy is still off of the oxygen, they'll probably start talking about a plan to bring her home within a few days.  She's been episode free for quite some time, so there's nothing else stopping her at this point. Then we'll have TWO babies at home, possibly by Friday!

Dr. Liu called us yesterday to talk about next steps with Izzy.  Right now, she weighs 3 lbs 8 oz.  Ideally, he'd like her to be around five pounds before re-connecting her intestines, but if she a) starts dumping again or b) starts having trouble with her liver, he'll do the surgery sooner, but really wants her, at the bare minimum, to be at least two kilos or ~4 lbs 6 oz.  Also, the surgeon and our NICU docs really want to ween her off of her oxygen a little more before performing the surgery.  Lastly, they still need to do a one-day analysis on the bottom section of intestine, between the mucus fistula and the rectum, to make sure that the three perforations that were allowed to heal have all done so.

I can't help but look at these girls everyday and think about how close we came to losing them and where we would or wouldn't be right now if we had listened to the doctor at CHOP who told us our girls were too sick to save.  Honestly, it infuriates me, so I try not to think about it too often.  I just hope that other families don't lose their babies because they're not confident enough to go with their gut and get a second opinion.  I'll get off of my soapbox now, it just amazes me every time I look at them and reflect on how far we've come.  We are truly blessed.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Up All Night

Yeah, you knew this was coming.  It's about 3:00pm in the afternoon after our first night home with Sophia.  Mentally, I'm not all here, but I just had to document the complete and total exhaustion I feel after our first night at home with a baby.  I realize that last night was just an appetizer for the full entree that lies ahead when everyone graduates from the NICU.  We'll get better at managing our nights, but I just couldn't help but wake up every 10 minutes, each and every time she made a sound.  I kind of felt like a celebrity stalker, continuously staring at her to make sure she was getting enough oxygen.  Plus, I'm a light sleeper and the quietest noise can wake me.  It was almost as if she was sitting right next to my head just waiting for me to close my eyes so she could yell in my ear and wake me back up again.  All that said, I think Meg and I did a pretty good job as a team last night.  Though, now, the thought of having the three of them home at once, all needing something from us (possibly at the same time), is quite terrifying. I wouldn't miss out on it for a second :)

Sophia, finding a new resting spot

Cousins Kelly and Keegan, checking out the new addition

My mom, arriving at our house for the first day of a one-month stay

I can't even begin to describe the feeling of having one of my girls at home where she belongs.  I'm not joking when I say that I've been checking every five to 10 minutes to make sure she's breathing.  It was like watching the pot to see if your water is boiling yet.  I'm already feeling a little more relaxed today, but my brain pretty much went into hyper-observation mode when we were at the hospital yesterday and the nurse said, "The leads are off.  She's all yours!"

Sophia, lead free!

Speaking of the hospital, it was a pretty sad and exciting moment. It's extremely tough taking home one of your babies and leaving some behind. You have such mixed emotions--the excitement of bringing your first baby home, conflicting with the guilt of leaving the others behind. You think to yourself, "It's not fair. They should all be together, all of the time!"

Meg, getting some practice lifting a full car seat in to the Triplet Traveler--her car of choice for the next several years (or more)

Baby securely latched into the car seat base. Check!

Before we took Sophia home, we decided to take advantage of her new-found freedom and gave her some bonding time with Maddy. They began their date with a visit to the milk machine and followed lunch up with some...

...cheering, and some...

...boogey dancing, and some...

...hard rock head banging, and some...

...thoughtful conversation, and finally, some...

...quiet time.

Sophia has had enough.  She's praying, "Get me outta here!"  There's no argument from Maddy.

Let's not forget about Izzy.  The docs have stopped her feedings with milk.  She finally began dumping, but still only weighs 3 lbs 3 oz.  The surgeon, Dr. Lieu, wants her to be much bigger before reconnecting her intestines--potentially five pounds.  They're going to start feeding her with a kind of "pre-digested" formula to see if she's able to soak up more nutrients without having to work as hard.  She's still on the nasal cannula, but she's on a very low setting as well.  We're thinking she's going to be in the NICU at least until Thanksgiving, but hopefully she'll be home before Christmas.

Isabelle is definitely daddy's cutie :)

Maddy is still having some trouble being weened off of the last little bit of oxygen. She's on the lowest possible setting, but just doesn't seem to want to let it go. They'll keep trying with her and, as soon as they're successful, will be sending her home a few days after, assuming she's still "episode-free!"

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Wedding Weekend to Remember

A few weeks back, I had to fly to Boston for a few days with one of my clients.  We stayed downtown at a newly remodeled W Hotel.  The freshness of the hotel, mixed with the view of downtown Boston and Fenway Park, solicited a strong desire for a weekend getaway for me and Meg.  We needed a new "weekend to remember."

Having three babies in the hospital pretty much crushed any near-term ability to travel easily, or at all, especially knowing that our girls could begin coming home at any point in the next couple of weeks.  Still, we needed to do something romantic and fun together.  I called her from the hotel and talked about getting away for a day or two.  The girls would be in great hands with the nurses in the NICU and, frankly, how many more opportunities like this would we get.  She loved the idea and immediately decided that we should take advantage of the time and reverse our "decline" invitation to our close friend's, Sarah and Zac's, wedding.  Fortunately, it wasn't too difficult to add ourselves late as attendees, so we bought our plane tickets, booked our hotel room, and prepared for the logistics of traveling to DC while needing to pump along the way (it's harder than it may seem).

By the way, I never realized how consuming and controlling a pumping schedule could be on a new mom's (and dad's) life.  Every hour of each day needed to be planned so we could figure out where we were going to be and if it would be suitable for pumping.

We flew out on Saturday morning, but not before stopping by the NICU to see our girls.  The next several hours were a whirlwind of driving, flying, getting to the hotel, showering, getting ready, and getting lost on the way to the ceremony on Saturday evening.  When we got out of the cab and finally exhaled, we were greeted by smiling faces and a beautiful afternoon that was obviously designed specifically for Sarah and Zac's wedding.

After a beautiful ceremony, we got our dance on and spent a truly wonderful evening with some really great friends, all in the presence of true love.

And just like that, the wedding was over.  I almost forgot how fast they fly by.  Ours seemed like it only lasted an hour, but the pictures prove otherwise.

We wrapped up our trip with a long, scrumptious breakfast at Eggspectations, where we got to soak in some good friend time with our peeps that we hadn't seen since our move to Chicago.

It was a great weekend escape.  We were missing the girls pretty badly when we first landed, but we made it through.  Sometimes, I just need to dance with my wife.

I'll leave you with some parting advice if you plan on traveling while pumping.

#1 - While on the plane, using the hand pump and staying in your seat is way more sanitary than squeezing in the small airplane bathroom to get your milk.  Who cares if the passenger sitting next to you looks at you funny.  At least you won't have 30 people asking "are you ok in there?" when you're hogging the bathroom.

#2 - Be prepared to answer the question "What's in your bag ma'am?  Do you mind if we do a bag check?" when going through airport security with your big breast pump.  Apparently, it looks lethal when going through the x-ray machine and the TSA folks are completely dumbfounded when trying to decipher what it could possibly be.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How Do You Get Here?

I thought about this the other day as I was blog-hopping.  My guess is that most folks probably see the updates when I post them on facebook and then jump here from there.  I also know that others may see when I post in their dashboard view if they have a blogger account.  Others may have a bunch of bookmarks for their favorite blogs and click on them individually each and every day over coffee to get their morning fix.

Well, I was playing around with widgets a couple of days ago and, while trying to add a button about RSV,  I noticed that there was a subscription widget.   I know, I'm probably pretty late to the game with this one, but it did seem like it might serve as a better way to get notified when there's some late-breaking news about the DeBauche babies!

If you look to the left, you'll notice two subscription options right below the "Preparing for RSV Season" button.  I haven't actually used it before, but having just played around with it a little, it looks as though you can make it show up on your Google or Yahoo homepage (would probably work well if it's actually set as your homepage) or it will work with Netvibes or Newsgator (which I have absolutely no clue about).  The other option would be to use the Atom reader with live bookmarks which will put a "Zero to Three in 40 Weeks" bookmark folder at the top of your browser with a drop down that includes all of the recent posts.

If this isn't helpful, don't fret.  I'll still continue to link my posts to facebook.

Thank you for continuing to follow along with our adventure!

By the way, if you have a different way of checking in on the DeBauche babies, I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

RSV: A Must-Read If You're Planning On Visiting Us Anytime Soon

Dear Family and Friends, 

We’re writing regarding a very important matter: RSV.  For those of you who plan to visit us over the next few months, and even if you are not, please take a few minutes to read this letter.

We want to start by saying thank you for the outpouring of support we have received from everyone. So many people have done so much for us, and every bit of help we have received is truly appreciated.  We are experiencing the biggest challenge of our lives and we’re lucky to be surrounded by so many family members and friends who have shown us so much love and support. 

We’d also like to share an important topic that we recently discussed with our girls' pediatrician.  If you are not aware of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), you are among the majority.  Most people have not heard of RSV even though nearly every child has had the virus by age two.  For full-term babies, RSV typically is not any worse than a common cold, but for preemies, the virus can be quite different.  Babies born earlier than 36 weeks are at the highest risk for serious complications like pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and other sometimes fatal complications.  Our babies were born premature, are multiples, and had low birth weights; these are among the highest risk factors for contracting RSV and developing serious complications. 

This website offers a great visual comparison of a preemie’s lungs compared to the lungs of a full-term baby: 

Preventing the spread of RSV is very difficult. Thus, we must be vigilant about keeping our children safe during RSV season (October through April).  The virus is spread through physical contact, in the air via a cough or sneeze, or by touching an infected object.  The virus can live as long as six hours on hands and up to twelve hours on objects, and it spreads very easily, especially from child to child.  Studies have also shown that infants pose an even higher risk of spreading RSV to others. 

You may ask, “Can’t they fight it off and build up their immune system? Children need to get sick, right?”  The simple answer is NO.  Since our babies were pre-term, they did not acquire the necessary immunities to fight off infection.  If they contract RSV, they could be hospitalized and develop serious complications. 

We’ll be asking our visitors to follow a few guidelines to help prevent the babies from contracting RSV or any other illness.  We ask that all visitors do the following: 

  1. When you arrive, please wash your hands and use hand sanitizer before touching the babies.  
  2. Please, if it is possible, get a flu shot.
  3. Please refrain from coming over if you are currently sick and have not been symptom-free for at least five (5) days, if you live with someone who is sick, or have been in close contact with someone who is sick.
  4. If you smoke, we ask that you change your clothing and refrain from smoking prior to visiting, as a preemie’s lungs are VERY sensitive to smoke.  Our doctors and most RSV sites strongly recommend against passive smoke exposure.  So, if you smell like smoke, you will not be able to hold the babies.
  5. If you are parents to a baby or toddler, please refrain from bringing them to our house during RSV season.  
  6. For older children, they may come and see the babies, but we ask that if there are any known sicknesses going around their classrooms, they refrain from coming until their classmates are well.
Unfortunately, we will not be attending many events during RSV season. Our goal is to make it through this and the next RSV seasons without the babies contracting RSV or any other serious illness.  Their lungs are still very fragile until they are two (2) years old. 

Please understand that this letter is not meant to offend anyone, just simply to provide an explanation.  We hope you understand, and we appreciate your help keeping our babies safe.

We are also providing several resources with additional information about RSV, below. 

Love and best wishes to all! 

Jeremy, Meghan, Sophia, Isabelle, and Madelyn DeBauche 

(Thanks to MOST for providing this information.  This letter was adapted from one shared on MOST's website.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Leaps and Bounds

Where to begin?  How about the fact that weeks go by like days used to.  The girls have made so much progress over the last week, I almost feel like I'm cheating everyone by only sharing the most recent updates.  Every day brings a new surprise or an accomplishment.  I'm just going to tell you where they stand today.  Just know that Meg and I felt as excited each and every day with their progress, as we do today.

Also, I know I've mentioned this in the past, but we really do appreciate all of the attention, love, and prayers that we and our girls receive.  Meg and I snuck away for 24 hours to Sarah and Zac's wedding (separate blog post forthcoming) in Washington D.C. on Saturday.  So many people came up to us at the wedding and asked about our girls.  We were told on several occasions that people had their churches and prayer groups praying for us.  We want to say "thank you" from the bottom of our heart and, whatever you're doing, keep doing it!

This past Friday marked 36 weeks GA and they're seven weeks old today.  Sophia is up to 4 lbs 15 oz, Madelyn is up to 4 lbs 11 oz, and Isabelle is up to 3 lbs 2 oz.

Let's start with Isabelle since we probably put a scare into everyone during our last update.  If you recall, the docs tried to start up the trophic feeds without success.  After a few days, they tried again and our little fighter's intestines finally woke up!  In fact, today, she took three of her feeds from the bottle.  She's only getting around 8ml per feeding right now, but she's doing so well with it.  The stool that's coming from the stoma is exactly what they would expect from a breastfed baby--yellow and seedy.

Today also marks the four week anniversary of her surgery.  At this point, the surgeon could decide at any point to reconnect the two ends of the intestines that are currently healing above the surface of the skin.  What will most likely dictate how much longer he allows Isabelle to heal before her next surgery will be when she begins dumping.  I'm pretty sure your mind just started envisioning what I could possibly mean by dumping.  Yes, it's probably what you're thinking it is.  Basically, she's able to digest her current volume of feeding with the length of intestine between her stomach and her stoma.  We'll know she's not able to keep up when it looks the same going in as does coming out.  The docs will keep increasing her volume until it's apparent that she needs more intestine, i.e. the food needs to have a longer visit inside, to help digest the food.

Besides that, her lungs seem to be doing very well and she doesn't appear to be letting anything else hold her back.

Meg loves her skin-to-skin time with Izzy

Mom soothing a fussy Isabelle

Letting gravity do the work during one of Isabelle's feeding

She sure is one tough cookie, but even cookies need to rest

...more resting...

I sure do wish I knew how to make these babies smile on demand. For now, I'll just continue to wait patiently with my finger on the shutter release button and the auto-focus mark set on their eyes.  These girls are really helping me out though.  For no apparent reason, they just start smiling.  You really just have to be there to see it.  It cracks me up.  All kidding aside, I laugh a little every time one of them smiles.  Seriously, just looking at the pics below leaves me snickering.



I was recently told that as your children grow, you'll go back and forth over who they look like the most.  Meg and I both agree that, for now, Maddy definitely looks like a DeBauche baby, while Sophie and Izzy definitely have some Carrick genes.

Look at that double chin! She does look like me!

Maddy is doing great! She's still on the nasal cannula and they have been trying to ween her off of it for several days now. She was slightly anemic a week ago which is what precipitated her needing the extra oxygen. Her blood tests looked much better this past Friday, so it's just a matter of time before they can remove that pesky tape from her face. She, like Sophia, is going gangbusters with their feedings.

Her only real issue at the moment, besides needing the oxygen, is some really bad diaper rash.  I'm talking so bad that the nurses actually use a concoction, stronger than Desitin, that I fondly refer to as "butt plaster."  Strange, I know, but you have to see this stuff.  I really think you could patch your walls with it.  It's a mix of Desitin, stoma powder, and a third magical ingredient which is escaping me at the moment.  What's worse is that Maddy's elimination system seems to get stimulated when you apply the plaster, so much so that she literally pooped on my hand as I was applying the paste.  Of course I struggled with what to do with a recently-changed, semi-clean, full-of-plaster baby while one of my hands held her legs high and the other, well, it was a mess and doing nothing.  I eventually worked it out, but it does remind me of my episode with Sophia's diaper-changing that took as long as a Jeopardy episode to get through.

I'm sure she'll get me back for this one day, but since she's so small now and I'm the dad, I'll share a precious moment, caught on disk, of how the nurses help treat the diaper rash by letting her air it out.  Yes, that's my girl on her side, getting a fresh breeze on her dairy aire.

Sophia still seems like she's in the lead to make it home first.  She had an "episode" today while taking her vitamins, though I have to believe that most adults, too, would have an "episode" with that stuff.  It looks bad and smells worse.  Once she goes seven days without a sleeping episode and five days without an eating episode, she'll be taking her first of many rides in our triplet transporter (aka. Nissan Armada).  I told her the good news and she was so excited.  Look for yourself!

She is eating all of her feedings now from either the bottle or breast. In fact, they just moved her from the green nipple (slow flow) to the blue nipple (faster flow). She didn't skip a beat. Maddy is actually on this nipple, too.

The more weight they gain, the bigger their cheeks get. Case in point. Look at these cheeks hanging over my fingers while she's getting burped. I'm sure they'll get much larger, but for us, these girls seem like little porkers right now. They look so healthy.

After the burping comes another nap.

Actually, these last four images are pretty indicative of all of their sleeping and eating cycles. First, they wake up and are full of energy. We prep them for their feedings. They eat. They look amazingly cute as they get burped. They pass out until their next feeding. What a life :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Great Grandma Jane

Sadly, combined, Meghan and I have a total of one grandparent, my Grandma Jane.  I only got to know my one great grandparent, Great Grandpa Gus, for a very brief time, but I really hope my girls get to know their great grandmother.  She's 79 now and I hope she lives to at least 100.  That way our girls would be able to go to her house when they're 21, and reminisce over an Old Fashioned.  Yes, she's known to put back a drink or two.

She's an amazing woman.  Back in the early 60s, she raised my dad and aunt from the time my father was 10.  She's tall, beautiful, and so much fun to be around.  When I was growing up, she always seemed to know the right things to say.  I'm not sure where that quality comes from, but she has it.  I lived in Green Bay until I was two, but I would always return each and every summer to make sure we got to spend a ton of time together.  She still lives in the same house she did when my dad was born.  Her house is full of memories.  She taught me how to play cards when I was eight years old.  Well, she probably started teaching me when I was younger, but we'll go with eight as the point at which I actually started taking her pennies and nickels playing poker.  I don't think there was ever a trip to her house that didn't involve canned cherries, Cincinnati chili, pineapple upside down cake, Wyoming whopper cookies, or fresh strawberries and sugar. 

Grandma, cooking up something good :)

I remember waking up each morning I was there, just waiting for to get up.  I would have the cards ready on the table, just waiting for her to get her morning coffee, so we could start a game of poker, cribbage, or canasta.  I think it went something like this while whispering ever so quietly, "Grandma, Grandma.  Are you awake yet?  I've got the table set up as soon as your ready to get up.  I'll just be waiting for you in the kitchen."  Of course she had a hard time saying no to her first-born grandchild, so she would stumble out of bed, make some coffee, light up a cigarette, and sit and play with me while I know she must have only been half awake.

Her other morning ritual has always been the Word Jumble and Cryptoquote.  I know the Word Jumble is in most morning papers, but I only remember seeing the Cryptoquote in her paper.  Basically, you're given a quote, written with a bunch of random letters.  Each letter actually represents a different letter each week, but you have to guess and crack the code as to whether "b" equals "m" that day for all of the letter in the quote.  She's become quite good over the years.

Grandma, with her coffee, the Word Jumble, and the Cryptoquote

I have so many other memories from her house, like Santa and his reindeer prancing on the roof, summers spent in her hot tub, going to feed the ducks at the nature preserve, riding the rides at Bay Beach.  I could go on and on, but I also plan on telling these stories to my girls when they get a little older.

The House of Memories

This weekend, my Aunt Patty, cousin Becky, and Grandma Jane all came down for a quick visit. 

My Aunt Patty

My Cousin Becky

Because of the NICU rules, only my grandma was able to come in and see the girls, but our nurse was nice enough to unhook Sophia from her leads and brought her over to the window for Becky and Patty to see.  I hope I'm able to get many more photos of my grandma with my girls.  Below, are just a few of the first ones.

Grandma, if you're reading this, which I know you are, I hope you know how much I love you and how many fond memories you helped create!