Wednesday, December 31, 2008

1 week old

It's amazing what can happen in the span of 7 days: Believe it or not, all of our little ones are off their CPAPs, no longer need phototherapy, and are feeding regularly (which means no more IVs!). The nurses put them all together last night for their first picture together, and today they gave us a print to bring home. As soon as we get it scanned, I will post it here, but I couldn't wait to share the good news!

Of course, this progress leads to the inevitable question of when the babies will be able to come home. According to the nurses, each baby first has to be weaned from his or her isolette (incubator). This is accomplished gradually, by first dressing the babies in clothes (check), then adding a blanket (check), and then turning down the temperature in their isolettes over the course of several days. Once it is determined that the babies can maintain their temperatures without help, they will be moved to open cribs (and that will be our cue that a homecoming is imminent). The babies must also be either bottle or breastfeeding at all feeds (right now they still have feeding tubes in their noses, which are used to fill their bellies when they are too tired to suck), be gaining weight, have no apnea (which none of them have, anyway), and pass a car-seat test (that is, be able to sit up in a car seat for the length of their trip home without experiencing any dips in heart or respiration rates).

Based on this info, I would bet that our boys will be the first to leave the NICU (no wimpy white boy syndrome here—I guess it pays for their mommy to be half Peruvian!), and the girls won't be far behind. Although the prospect of being in charge of these four tiny beings is admittedly scary, we are looking forward to settling into life as a family. For now, though, we must be content with precious moments like these in the NICU today:

Ted holding Isaac for the first time and Suzy holding Jude for the first time

Isaac going a little cross-eyed for the camera

Lucia being held by Dad for the first time

Jude giving a big YAWN! for the camera

Dahlia being held by Mom for the first time

Monday, December 29, 2008

First quad pics

I apologize for the long silence on my end: The last few days have been action-packed with family and NICU visits, moving up to the post-partum unit, filling out lots of paperwork, talking to nurses and doctors galore, learning to pump, etc., etc.—not to mention that I wasn't even able to access the hospital's wireless network anyway all day on Saturday, which was my last day there. Yep, I'm home!!!! I feel like a prisoner who's been freed—a very tired prisoner who hasn't walked in 3 months, is recovering from a C-section, and still has a huge uterus that makes me look heavily pregnant (hopefully the pumping will help it shrink back down to a manageable size; Ted asked me what I would say if someone asks me when I'm due, and I told him I'd just give the quads' real due date of February 9, ha!).

But enough about me—I know that what you guys are really interested in are the babies! Without further ado, here are some first pics, along with the info that everyone's been asking for:

Isaac Nehiel

Isaac was Baby B in the womb. When he was born, he weighed 4 lb. 11 oz. and was 19 inches long. His first name means "laughter" in Hebrew, and he gets his middle name (pronounced "nay-yell") from my dad. He never required extra oxygen and was the first to come off his CPAP. I got to take his temperature (under his arm, whew!), change his tiny diaper, and give him his first bottle on Friday. After that, the doctor determined that his bilirubin levels were elevated (translation: he had jaundice), so the nurse put him in a blindfold and trained the phototherapy lights on him (but I just found out that they turned them off today, yay!). We think he really looks like Ted and can't wait to get to the hospital this afternoon so that we can see his cute little face again!

Lucia Celeste

Lucia was Baby C in the womb. When she was born, she weighed 4 lb. 5 oz. and was 17 inches long. Her first name (pronounced "loo-see-ah") means "light," and her middle name means "heavenly" (yes, there's a Beatles connection here—can you guess it?). Celeste also means "light blue" in Spanish and is the color of the Uruguayan flag. She never required extra oxygen and came off the CPAP on Saturday only to be put back on after her first bath (I guess the experience got her all excited or something). I got to hold her on Christmas while she was still on her CPAP, and then she went under the phototherapy lights, so we didn't get to see her face until a couple of days ago, when we happened to visit while she was taking a break from the blindfold. She is super-cute, and so far I think she also favors Ted. Now that she's on CPAP again, though, we're not sure when we'll get a good look at her next.

Jude Wesley

Jude was Baby A in the womb. When he was born, he was our big boy at 4 lb. 15 oz., and he measured 18 inches long. His first name is a direct reference to a Beatles song, and he shares his middle name with Ted, Ted's dad, and Ted's grandpa. He never required extra oxygen and is now off his CPAP, although he is usually blindfolded due to jaundice and phototherapy. Ted got to hold him the day after Christmas, I got to give him his first bottle yesterday, and we narrowly missed being able to give him his first bath. His hair is a little darker than Isaac and Lucia's, and his face is a little wider, so maybe he looks like my side of the family? Whoever he looks like, he is an adorable, alert little guy and I think he will be a lot of fun when he gets a little stronger!

Dahlia Solis

Dahlia was Baby D in the womb (but the fact that her name also starts with a D is a coincidence). She is the runt of the litter and was responsible for the doctor deciding to go ahead and deliver the quads before we got to 34 weeks (which would have been today). When she was born, she weighed 3 lb. 9 oz. and was 17 inches long. Her first name (pronounced "dowl-ya") is the name of a flower that Mom grew in our front yard in Uruguay, and her middle name (pronounced "so-lees") is the beach in Uruguay where my family used to vacation when I was growing up. She is the only quad who's needed extra oxygen, but it's only been a small amount (regular room air is 20% oxygen, and she's been given between 28% and 40%). She hasn't yet been taken off her CPAP, but the nurse practitioner just called to say that that might happen in the next day or so. We hear that she's a feisty little girl, and we can hardly wait to see what she looks like under all those tubes and the blindfold!

Everyone is feeding regularly now and has been gaining in grams, although not enough yet to impact the pounds and ounces. The docs say that if they keep this up, they should all be able to get their IVs out soon. And do you know what that means? Quad pics where they're all together!

We are so blessed!!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

They're here!

We are proud to announce that the Fab Four made their debut this morning in the following order:

Isaac Nehiel at 8:40am, 4 lb. 11 oz.
Lucia Celeste at 8:40am, 4 lb. 5 oz.
Jude Wesley at 8:41am, 4 lb. 15 oz.
Dahlia Solis at 8:41am, 3 lb. 9 oz.

Ted got to see the babies in the resuscitation room while they were putting me back together, and then we were able to go up and see them in the NICU after I got out of recovery. They are all on CPAP machines for the time being to help them breathe, but otherwise they are doing great (as am I). I'm pretty sure they're super-cute, but it's hard to tell under all of those tubes and wires!

Thanks so much for all of your prayers this morning, and please keep them coming, as the nurses say that it's not unusual for preemies to backslide a bit in the first couple of days. Also, please be aware that the hospital staff has advised us that visitors are not a good idea until we can be sure that everyone is stable. For now, I am trying to rest as much as possible, but I'll keep everyone posted on how we're doing and will upload pictures after I've had a chance to go through them.

What a wonderful Christmas this is turning out to be!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's go time!

Amnio results are back, and Dr. S says there's only a 5% chance that Baby A will need ventilation once he's born. This is a good sign that the other babies' lungs are also developed enough to function properly outside of the womb. Therefore, in the interest of getting little Baby D out of there before she gets into any trouble, I will be going into surgery tomorrow morning at 8am. That's right, folks: We're having some Christmas Eve quads!

The timing certainly couldn't have worked out better, as my parents flew in yesterday to spend Christmas with me, and my brother and his girlfriend are flying in tonight. I am beyond thrilled that my whole family will be here for the big event! Please pray with us that the babies are born healthy and stable, and also that I come through this riskier-than-usual C-section with no complications so that we can all enjoy our precious time together before my family flies back to Texas at the end of the week. Tomorrow promises to be hectic, but we'll post names, weights, and all that good stuff as soon circumstances allow!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas quads?

This morning, my reward for making it to 33 weeks was to finally get the babies measured again. During the ultrasound, I got some very good news: Baby A weighs 4 lb. 12 oz., Baby B weighs 4 lb. 7 oz., and Baby C weighs 4 lb. 5 oz. However, I also got some not-so-great news: Baby D hasn't grown at all in the past 3 weeks and is still weighing in at just 3 lb. 6 oz.

Yesterday Dr. S warned me that, if we learned today that any of the babies hadn't been growing properly, we might need to deliver them earlier than the original goal of 34 weeks. Since that's exactly what we found out, he did an amniocentesis on Baby A to check for lung maturity (for some reason, the largest baby usually has the least-developed lungs). We are currently awaiting the results, which should be ready later today or tomorrow. If Baby A's lungs are not sufficiently developed, we will wait a little longer to deliver. But if his lungs are mature enough, it will be go time! Stay tuned ...

Monday, December 15, 2008

There's a light at the end of the tunnel

Yesterday, when I reminded Dr. E that I was set to earn my A+ today, he replied, "You're not getting the A+! We're getting the A+! We're the ones doing all the work!" I just laughed, but really I was thinking, "Hmm, I'm pretty sure it's a lot harder to be me right now than it is to be you guys!" I then proceeded to try to pin him down on a timeline for the arrival of these quads. He told me that, although he and Dr. S had not put together a plan for me yet, he was pretty sure they wouldn't let me go past 34 weeks; he also mentioned that, after today, they wouldn't "torture" me with the mag anymore (since I am still on it, though, I assume he merely meant that I wouldn't be given any more boluses to reduce contractions).

So now we're in the final stages of the waiting game, unsure of just when in the next 2 weeks these babies will come. I am torn between wanting to make it all the way to 34 weeks for their sakes, and selfishly yearning to have my body back already. My belly is growing so fast that, every single day, I can detect a marked decline in my ability to move. I have never been allowed to leave my bed except to use the bedside commode (and every other day to shower), but even the seemingly simple acts of getting out of bed, standing up, turning around, and sitting down are laborious—and then I have to repeat the whole sequence in reverse (more than a dozen times a day, no less!). And forget about finding a comfortable position once I'm back in bed. Let's just say that, after nearly 7 weeks here, my rear end is sick and tired of sitting on this mattress!

I don't detail all of this to complain—I just want to provide a small glimpse into how increasingly difficult this pregnancy will be as its final days unfold. I sometimes I worry that I'll be completely bedridden, with a catheter and everything, before it is all over, but I just have to keep trusting in the Lord's timing for these babies. Although Ted and I can't wait to meet them, we know that their well-being is a million times more important than my comfort or our convenience. As long as the babies continue to be active, practice their breathing, grow at a similar rate to each other, and retain plenty of amniotic fluid in their sacs—and as long as my blood pressure and contractions stay under control—we shouldn't have a problem in making it all the way to December 29!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A sad note

The joy of hitting 31 weeks today is tempered by news of my Grandpa M's unexpected death yesterday. He recently turned 90 years old but was still living on his own, so his passing comes as quite a shock. At first we thought that Mom wouldn't be able to travel here for the funeral because her surgery is so recent, but her doctors are going to try to work with her to make it happen (she has an appointment with them tomorrow morning for evaluation). Obviously, I cannot attend.

The quads were going to be my grandpa's 55th, 56th, 57th, and 58th great-grandchildren, and he was highly interested in my progress. My mother and I kept him up to date on how things were going and, just a couple of days before coming to the hospital, I was able to visit with him so that he could see my big belly. Turns out that was the last time I would ever see him.

The day my mom found out she had cancer, Grandpa called me and gave me a good talking to. I was a mess, but he reminded me that I was the mom now, and that my job was to take care of these babies; he told me that the most important things for me to do now were to talk to the Lord a lot, to keep a good attitude, and to not lose control. He was right, of course, and his words pulled me straight out of the hole of self pity that could very well have swallowed me up in those difficult first days.

So, Grandpa, although I am very sad to lose you, I know that you would want me to keep focusing on the quads and their well-being right now. And that's what I'm gonna try to do.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Going for the A

From the beginning of this pregnancy, I've maintained that a birthdate "anytime in December" would be swell. Well, folks, we made it! Even the usually pessimistic Dr. E showed enthusiasm regarding reaching the 30-week milestone this morning—imagine what he'll be like on the off chance that I actually earn the A+ he promised me if I can last 2 more weeks!

In other exciting news, the babies were finally measured again today (after 3 long weeks of waiting). All of them were practicing their breathing during the ultrasound (yes!), and their estimated weights were exactly what we were hoping for: They are all over 3 pounds, with just a few ounces of difference between them. (According to the neonatologist, crossing the 3-pound threshold prior to premature delivery decreases the likelihood of severe problems after birth.) With more than 13 pounds of baby to support, though, it's no wonder that my back is beginning to protest; hopefully, both it and my ever-contracting uterus can hold out for another week or two.

You know, it's a good thing that Ted and I finally settled on some names last night because there's no doubt about it: Baby time is drawing nigh—it's exciting and terrifying at the same time!


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