BABY BIOHAZARD BAPTISM

Prior to last week, Jeremy had never changed a diaper. He’d been around our friends’ kids and our nephew, but never ventured into the land of diapers or feeding. I think Grant knew this and decided that it was time to indoctrinate Daddy into the world of baby bodily fluids. The first incident occurred during a feeding. I will say that he was set up for failure when the nurse tried to push their feedings too close together. Second, he didn’t know how important it is to stop and burp during a feeding. After I finished feeding Maria, I left Jeremy and Grant together so I could go pump. When I immerged from the pumping room, Jeremy was standing in the hall with half of his shirt saturated. Grant had exploded all over him. He said our nurse was nowhere to be found, but thankfully another came to his aid to help clean up the disaster area.

The second incident occurred yesterday. He was getting Grant prepared for his feeding, which includes checking his temperature and changing his diaper. All was going well when suddenly I heard what can only be described as squirting. I looked up to see Grant’s legs in the air and poop dripping down the side of the isolette. Jeremy quickly covered Grant so he could finish his business with a little more dignity and our nurse, sensing something was amiss, arrived to assist in the cleanup efforts. Jeremy said everything was going well until he applied Grant’s Magic Butt Paste to his red butt. This was just enough stimulation to have Grant let loose. I can say that this was the best laugh I have had in the last ten days, and it was much needed!

Jeremy has officially been indoctrinated into parenthood. These incidents may have been his first contact with baby bodily fluids, but will certainly not be the last.

Grant looking a little embarrassed after his episode.

Maria not too sure about the strawberry hat.

I WOULD DIE FOR THAT

A friend of mine sent me a video that describes how a woman feels going through infertility.  The video was very emotional for me and brought back several memories. I have many friends who are struggling with infertility right now, and to you I say don’t give up my friends. God has a plan for you and hold on tight to His word.

TEACHING BY EXAMPLE

What a difference seven months makes!

Our babies were born seven months to the day after their transfer. For months, I had a feeling about May 17. I had the 17th right, just the wrong month. It’s truly awesome that those tiny little embryos formed into perfect little babies.

Our stay in the NICU has given us an opportunity to share about embryo adoption with the staff. For most, our babies are the first adopted embryos of which they have ever heard. One nurse and I talked for a long time about it and she was amazed. She and her husband struggled with infertility for 16 years before adopting internationally 11 years ago. When they were going through their struggles embryo adoption wasn’t a readily available option, but she said it’s something she wishes they had known about. Hopefully Grant and Maria can be a testament to others on how precious life is from the very beginning.

I’m happy to report they are doing well. Grant is off his NG feeding tube and both are off their IVs. Maria is still a little sluggish eating, which is normal for her gestational age. I’m hoping we can get them graduated to open cribs sometime this week, which means they are maintaining their temperatures.

The nurses have realized that we aren’t cracked-out bums and let us come in and handle the babies without assistance. We’ve gotten used to all the buzzes and beeping around us and know what all the different noises mean. Maria still drops her heart rate on occasion and we know just to give her a good firm pat on the back to help her remember to breathe. She’s not allowed not to breathe!
As for Jeremy and me, we are adapting to our routine of hospital visits; my pumping schedule and naps where we can find them. I’m recovering well from my c-section and have lost all but 3.5 pounds of my pregnancy weight. I’ll attribute my rapid loss to nursing and staying active while pregnant. It’s great to have ankles again!

For the time being we will pray for new milestones and look forward to bringing them home as soon as possible.

SPRING CONTINUES … THE BIRDS & THE BEES

I usually can’t wait for that first cup of coffee in the morning; you know, the one that you actually get to drink when it is HOT, before anyone else has arisen? I like to go through any notices the kids have left for me on the desk or homework assignments that need signing. It has been especially good reading material of late. For the past few months or so, my oldest son, age 13 years, has been leaving me either various diagrams of the reproductive system or better yet, questions that consist of an interview which need to be discussed, and of course a signature to prove they were discussed.

One morning he was actually up and downstairs ahead of schedule. This happened to be the morning after he had left me a list of questions that he was supposed to ask an adult about when they were a teen regarding teen pregnancy and birth control. I thought he was going to choke on his cereal when I started to read it aloud and answer the questions. He quickly started to write my answers down, either to stop me from talking or in order to regain his appetite. He only paused when we came to a question which asked if we thought we would ever be able to place a baby up for adoption. My answer had been no, and he was surprised, because he is well informed with all that has transpired regarding donating our embryos. He wanted to know what was the difference. I told him to me the embryos represent a chance of a baby, but to actually carry and give birth to a baby and than give it up for adoption wouldn’t be something I could ever do.

This was all happening around the time of Marti and Brian’s visit with us this past March. I chuckle when I think of the morning after they left. This is when I came downstairs to find the male reproductive diagram (which needs labeling still), next to the coffee pot. He didn’t want to do this when they were there, so he had told the teacher I was working and he had to hand it in late. He had been embarrassed to tell me it needed completing while they were here.

This past Friday, report cards came home, indicating the close of the third marking period. I asked him this weekend if they were done with the “Family discussions” unit, and he said yes. I asked him if they ever mentioned IVF when discussing reproduction, and he said they only make mention of adoption, and I quote him as saying, “of a baby, not an embryo.” We started to talk about it a little more, and I told him that my mind set has changed on lots of issues from when I was his age and where I stand now, largely due to the fact that I’ve grown and learned from life experiences. He was surprised in the advances that had occurred in IVF in that time period, and that I hadn’t heard of embryo donation at all until about 7 years ago. I told him I was about his age when the first “test-tube baby” was conceived and born in England, and he was amazed. I told him I was fascinated not only by the fact that science had been able to achieve this, but that anyone would actually do it. Little did I know it was the beginning of what would lead to the answer to our prayers.

SPILLED MILK

I was reading Jessica’s blog about breastfeeding and it reminded me of when my twins were in the NICU. My twins arrived at 30 weeks and were 3 .1 lbs (Natalie) and 3.11 lbs (Julian). They were in the hospital for 46 days. When they were born I could not see them for 24 hours due to the medication I was on for toxemia. So I asked one of the nurses if I could start pumping and she got me the necessary equipment and then after I was done, threw it out because there was not much in the cup! What, did she realize how my twins were fighting for their lives and that the first part of the breast milk is most important, which is high-protein and called colostrum? No, I am sure she had no idea.

I was later moved to a room on the floor where I  began the every 2 hour pumping regimen. At first I was not producing much and was very concerned about it, just as Jessica. I asked about donor breast milk, but was told that most of the “good” stuff was taken out since it had to go through pasteurization for the FDA to approve it.  I was also shocked at the cost and knew with my cheap husband I had to start producing!

Unlike Jessica’s twins, mine were not able to take any breast milk or formula for a few days so I had a chance to get ahead of the game so to speak. Julian and Natalie were born on a Friday and I went home on Tuesday. Once I got home I continued the every 2 hour pumping and found that I was starting to produce more and more.  I got to a point where the hospital would not store any more breast milk for me and I had to store it at home.  This became a problem very quickly, since we just had one fridge.

Alcoa First United Methodist church was supplying me with meals regularly, since I went on bed rest around 15 weeks, so I had the freezer almost full as it was. When Sarah Overman, called to say she was going to bring us food and then a frozen food, I had to tell her we could not take any to freeze due to my breast milk issue. I had never met her before and she offered for us to use a stand up freezer she had, for however long we needed it. What a blessing that was! I had one less thing to worry about.

Once the twins were able to start breastfeeding, I was producing plenty. In fact they would often be drenched with milk after they were done. I look back on this now and see they were not swallowing! They were also being feed through a tube so they were gaining weight. I had asked the lactation specialist for them to be weighed before they ate and then after to see how much they were getting. Since they were so small, and Natalie had feeding issues, I was very concerned about them getting enough.  Later, I asked a nurse to weigh them for me and she said the scales were down the hall and they would do that when Brian and I stayed for 24 hours before taking them home.

They never did weigh them before and after eating, and I had forgotten to ask the two different times we stayed for the overnight test.  The hospital has parents in the NICU stay 24 hours to see if the child or children are ready to go home. I will blog more about this another time.

When the babies got to come home we took them to the pediatrician and then took them again after a few days to see if they had gained weight. Unfortunately, they had lost weight, so I had to pump and feed them from a bottle.  I did this for 6 months and tried the whole time to get them back on the breast. I had nurses come out to try and help me and I used tubes attached to my breast to make sure they were getting enough milk. It was a nightmare! I was not giving up, because I knew breast milk had saved my life and all that my Mother went through to make sure I got the best start possible. I wanted to do the same for my children.

Fate interfered, the freezer, that was now full of breast milk went out and all that breast milk was spoiled. I saw this as a sign for me to STOP the madness. At that point I was on medication to help increase my breast milk production, which caused me to have panic attacks, and did not help my production!  I know of several NEDC mothers who did go on and pump for a year, but I could not. As much as I hated to give up, I had to do what was best for me. People asked me if I cried when we discovered the spoiled milk in the fridge. The answer is, I did not. I was beyond sadness. Don’t cry over spoiled milk, what is done is done.

MELTDOWNS AND MILESTONES

99% of the staff we’ve worked with at the hospital has been fantastic. However, our first day with the babies in the NICU, we had a run in with one nurse. She seemed not to realize that we hadn’t slept in approximately 4 days, had twins at 32 weeks and were a bit overwhelmed at life. She began to rapid fire information at us about the monitors and what everything meant and what we needed to see to get the babies home and by the way, we’re going to start feeding Maria tomorrow…how much milk have you produced? Ummmm…not much. Pumping every two to three hours in the last 12 hours had yielded about 20 ml of colostrum, which was pretty impressive if you ask me. She said that wasn’t enough and we would need to start formula. Huh? Babies don’t eat much in the beginning and had I been able to nurse them from the start, they wouldn’t know how much they were getting, plus milk doesn’t usually come in for several days so why the rush? I don’t think they’ll starve right off the bat. Knowing that human milk was best, I started to state my case and concern for formula. The conversation didn’t go great and I ended it by saying we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Right now, they are okay and I’ll keep pumping. I mentioned this to my doctor and he encouraged me to stay strong and to fight for what we wanted.

The next day, I was approached by the nurse practitioner working that day who confronted me again about my lack of desire to use formula… “what is your problem with it?” she said with a bit of a tone. It was enough to send me into tears while I tried to state that I wanted what was absolutely best for our babies and that I didn’t think formula would do that because of the unnecessary ingredients. I’m concerned for both their long and short term health. I suggested that my sister-in-law had offered to let us use her milk while we were waiting on mine. That idea was shot down, but that opened the door to discuss the alternative of “approved” donor milk. FINALLY, some options…that’s all I wanted. We weren’t going to let our babies starve, but I knew there had to be some alternatives. She soon apologized for making me cry and realized she probably wasn’t being sensitive enough to a hormonal new mom with babies in the NICU. Within two hours she came to my room to sign consent forms for donor milk. The information that came with it made me laugh because it talked about why human milk is best and all the benefits for babies, especially premature ones. Why did I have to fight for this?? We’re all on the same team here and want what is best for the babies.

The babies were started on donor milk later that day and I was able to relax, which would surely help my milk supply. I continued my two hour pumping schedule and by Wednesday was starting to make progress. Thursday was even better. Not only was my milk really starting to come in, I was approached about using my sister-in-law’s milk. They wanted to “free up” their donor milk and our lactation nurse was helping to advocate for us and said she would work with legal on the necessary consent forms. I’m thrilled with how far we’ve come on this. With premature infants the game changes, but one thing I didn’t want to change was having our babies receive the best possible nutrition.

I’m happy to report that they are both doing well. We’re told that Maria will hopefully get off her IV on Friday. Grant might have to keep his a little longer because they were giving him extra fluids to help him poop more. Their skin tone looks better and hopefully will come off the lights soon. They are maintaining their temperatures better and both have been nursing some. Jeremy says they’re going to be little overachievers like their mother and break out of there soon. I pray he’s right!

Grant and Maria with their shades on. Ready for the beach!

THE LATEST IN SPRING FASHION TRENDS

I think Jessica has started the latest Spring fashion trend, and it has nothing to do with clothes!  Tuesday evening in L & D (where I work part time) there wasn’t a speck of white on the dry erase board that lists our patients’ names and status!  The crazy thing about it was that the majority were all pre-termers,  presenting much as Jessica did, stable until your whisking the patient into the OR!. Just to put things in perspective, we had 4 C/S’s in our 8 hour shift!  We started with one wrapping up, did 2, and began another.  That doesn’t account for the few that had vaginal deliveries in between.

Unfortunately, many of these preterm births resulted in  unforeseen complications (3 out of 4), but time will tell how those babies will fare.  Jessica was very fortunate that she had such healthy babies for their gestational age.

As I was driving into work today, I was thinking about the similarities both Jessica and Marti have shared in their experiences.  They both have twins, a boy and girl, that delivered prematurely.  They both were on bed-rest, although Jessica really lucked out on that torture.  I know it sounds like a dream to stay in bed and let others wait on you, but it can be very difficult to stay that inactive for long periods of time.  After about 2 days of it I was done.  What I find most interesting is the fact that they have both gone through the embryo adoption process, and you have two different perspectives to compare.  I think it’s neat to follow Jessica as she presently experiences motherhood (parenthood to include the Dad’s) for the very first time which was  made possible by this process.

Another aspect of this blog that I enjoy is the fact that Marti & I are blogging out our experiences as they relate to adopting/donating embryos.  I really didn’t know what to expect when we chose an open adoption, but it has been better than I ever could have imagined.  Although this decision was made primarily for health concerns in the future for both parties involved, it has evolved into a special bond that I still find to be unbelievable.  We really have only had contact for 2 years, but it seems like the Bailey’s have always been a part of our family.  I eagerly look forward to the years to come.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

It seems that Spring has truly sprung early in other parts of the country as well as New England.  I’ve been busy working in the garden, Marti has been busy planning and hosting a birthday party for her twins, and Jessica has been busy giving birth to her twins, welcome Grant Louis and Maria Isabel.

Gardening to me is kind of like the IVF process.  You have a goal you strive towards, and what happens is truly out of your control to a certain degree.  One of the reasons I enjoy gardening is because it is something that I’m creating without putting a lot of thought into the actual process.  Everything is left to Mother Nature and the weather that God sends our way.  I have an idea, and I enjoy working towards the goal.  As I do the mundane preparing, pruning, weeding, etc., that is involved, my mind tends to wander.  I was finding myself thinking of Jessica and her two babies who were trying to be early arrivals and did in the end succeed, but all is well.  I’d been checking the blog for updates on her condition, but there hadn’t been any to date.  I had thought no news was good news, or her battery in the Blackberry needed charging.  It all worked out fine in the end.

I also found myself wondering how the birthday celebration for Natalie & Julian was going.  It sounds like it was a success despite the mishap at the end.  I’m looking forward to seeing the promised photos.  I was hoping the weather was better than ours.  We had started Saturday with lots of rain, enough to cancel baseball practice for Joel (YEAH – did I just type that?  Hopefully the Coach won’t read it.  I just like practice when it’s sunny, otherwise my cross stitching gets wet!).  It did clear later in the day, and Sunday it waited to rain until I was halfway done pruning in the middle of the garden, so I finished as we had a steady sprinkle with the sun still shining.  And we all know the bright side of that, the rainbow that reminds us of the good things in life.

All in all, everything was great:  my garden looks tended, Marti’s party was great, and Jessica’s arms are full.  You really have to admit, a lot was accomplished this weekend.  It’s no wonder God needs Sunday to rest!

STRAIGHT A’s!

Last week I took the twins for their two year check up. They always weigh and measure them then give their percentage. I would always call and tell my Mom and she would be so excited to hear about how much they have grown. Unfortunately, I did not feel that anyone I talked with seemed to be as excited as my Mom was. No one will ever take the place of a Mother’s love or her excitement over her grandkids.

Later that night I called Jim and Patty and told them that Natalie weighs 24.2 lb( 17%), 33.5 inches long (47%) and head circumference (69%); then Julian is 26.14 (35%), 33.75 (37%), and head circumference (78%). Patty and I then talked about how her children always had big heads also and if a hat came with an outfit, it would never fit. That is how it was for the twins as well. I told Patty that I tell the doctor that they have big heads to hold their magnificent brains!

Patty has mentioned before that her and Jim’s relationship to Natalie and Julian are like grandparents and I agree with that. It is nice to have that kind of relationship with them. You can never have too many people who love your children. They are quite lovable!

TA-DA!!

The last time I wrote I was a crock-pot. Now I’m a mom. We were hoping the babies would continue to cook a little while longer despite my water breaking, but they had other ideas. Not only did their arrival surprise us, but the doctors and nurses as well. I probably went into labor late Friday/early Saturday. However, no one, including the doctors and nurses knew I was in labor. I was having periodic contractions on Friday, but nothing too intense. Early Saturday morning, I was having a lot of lower back pain and cramps, which the staff attributed to the antibiotics I was on to stopping me up and loaded me up on Mirilax and prune juice. My elimination issues only got worse as Saturday wore on and I was not a happy camper. Still, the monitors didn’t indicate labor, although I was relatively miserable. (Jeremy says they can no longer trust my subjective rating of a 6 on the pain scale – after the fact, I would rate it as a 12 – I figured if I wasn’t in labor that labor pain would actually be worse, so I didn’t want to top out early). I had multiple catheters to relieve my bladder and my doctor thought I was just tense, so he gave me something to relax me. It didn’t work. At 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, my nurse, Elizabeth, was going to give me another catheter when she asked the last time my cervix had been checked. Thursday morning was the answer. She thought something just didn’t seem right and decided to check me. I couldn’t see her face, but I heard the tone in her voice as she told the aid to get Mandy, another nurse. Mandy said something about that being a baby butt and said to call the doctor, who agreed that what they were feeling was a baby butt. “We’re going to have some babies!” is what I heard. So, I had a baby blocking all my exits, which explained everything! Soon I was being wheeled off to the OR. Jeremy was calling our parents to say the babies were coming and called my Aunt Lynne who works at the hospital and was going to be with us for the c-section. She was on the riverfront with 750,000 of her closest friends for Thunder Over Louisville fireworks show and began a sprint to the hospital.

The next hour was a blur, but life got a lot better as soon as my lower body went numb with the epidural…RELIEF!! Jeremy finally got to come in, all in surgery garb, and Lynne made it just in time. She was panting, but she made it. The two doctors cutting me open were discussing their golf game among other things, but soon I felt them lift Grant from my belly. He wasn’t crying too much, but Maria sure made up for it. She was wailing and I took a deep breath for the first time in about two months. Her screams were music to my ears. Grant needed a little help, but soon decided to get in on the action. I got to see my babies in little wrapped up burrito bundles before they were taken to the NICU for further evaluation. I was sewn up and was taken to recovery where I got to see digital pictures of the babies for the first time. What pretty babies!

Everything was a bit surreal and still is. My labor and delivery have been the talk of the unit, and now I can laugh about it (sort of). The hard part is that the babies are in the transitional care unit so we can’t be with them all the time like we want to be. Being born at 32 weeks and 5 days means they aren’t coordinated enough to suck, swallow and breath at the same time, which means they are eating through a tube until they are able to coordinate. They both pulled out their oxygen within a couple of hours of birth…I like how feisty they are. I keep telling them that the quicker they gain some weight and get coordinated they faster we can break them out of there. As for me, I can see my feet again when I stand up, which is cool and I will never take being able to pee for granted again.

So, we welcomed Grant Louis and Maria Isabel to the world on April 17, 2010 at 8:09 and 8:10 p.m. It’s a little ahead of our schedule, but we’ll trust God’s plan. Grant tipped the scales at 4 lbs 7 oz and 18 ½ inches long. Maria was 4 lbs 3 oz and 17 inches long. They are doing well. Jeremy is plying me with water and insisting on rest in order to get my milk supply in so the babies can get good “mama juice” and fatten up quicker. We’ve started Kangaroo Care with them and I love getting to feel their warm little bodies. We’re looking forward to the day when we can bring our babies home. We knew parenthood would be an adventure. We just didn’t think it would start out quite so crazy.

Hanging out with Maria

Grant aka Mr. Drama

Grant and Maria after their first bath.

Maria Isabel