Nope this time I'm not talking about babies (although they are doing great!) I'm talking about lemons. You see, while I by no means have a green thumb, I'm in love with my orchid and my lemon tree. Everything else I buy dies, but those two plants are loved. So last year my lemon tree only made 1 lemon, which for the work it takes, was disapointing. This year about 2 months before I became pregnant, it sprouted 6. These became my sextuplets. I was nervous when kids were on the back porch, I yelled at animals that approached and when they were small and green I had to convince people they were not limes and not to pick them. During the cold days, my lemon resides in my bathtub. During the hot, Brian moves it back into the sun. Anyways, so after about 9 months, I finally had a lemon ready to pick and during this process I realized that after picking the lemon, there were only 4 remaining. What on earth happened to lemon number 5??? I quickly came to the conclusion that one of the neighbor kids must of come over and taken one, so I began scanning the random houses trying to figure out whom it could have been (sorry Dipti if your reading this, but even kids as small as Nyan were suspect:)) After quite a while of despair and a touch of anger, I thought maybe it had fallen off the tree and rolled into the grass. Sure enough I was right and while it was not in the most pristine of condition, I was overjoyed to be enjoying not one but two lemons that evening.
So... the question is, now that I have 3 human babies, will my lemon and my orchid survive? Stay tuned...
While its a terrific thing that our babies are growing and eating more, its also a sad day for me as today is the first day they will be mixing my milk half and half with formula. I've done all I can to increase my supply from eating oatmeal every morning, to taking a prescription to increase supply, to NEVER missing a single pumping session in 10 weeks. However, while I have increased a bit, its not enough to keep up any longer. The drs applaud my longevity but its still hard to accept that I can no longer be the sole provider. With this being said, I will keep up my efforts to at least help supplement their feedings and provide them with any antibodies that I can.
On another note, my milk has done its job as all babies grew a TON this week. Ella is now 5lbs 12oz, Slade 5lbs 7oz and Claire 5lbs 4oz! They grew 13, 12, & 8oz's respectively. Ella is now up to 3 bottles per day and the other two are still working to finish #1. I have a feeling Ella will be home a few days before her siblings:)
Below are 2 recent pictures of Slade & Claire courtesy of my sister in law Holly:
So far so good... All babies had a good night and only had a minor a&b or two. Nothing the nurse really wrote down since they were such quick drops. As usually, anything can change at anytime but so far it looks like they have finally learned how to breathe on their own. The bottle feeds went decent but Ella had just had a bath so she wasn't all that interested. Oh and Ella reached the 5lb mark!!! Oh Oh and Slade has outgrown Claire, albeit by .5 of a lb:)
Its so crazy because Dr's and nurses are now starting to say things like, "we did x&y so that when they go home..." It seems like just yesterday we were being warned about the worst outcomes and how with triplets the probability wasn't good that they'd be come home near their due date. Now like Miranda said in the last comment...we are getting soooo close! And we are sooo ready, its been a really long 2.5 months!
On another note, I received a really great package at the NICU yesterday from an organization that makes care packages for parent of micro-preemies with their babies in the NICU. It had all sorts of things from a blanket to capture the parents scent and leave in the crib, to a disposable camera, to a housecleaning gift certificate to a certificate for frozen food delivery. I am just amazed and impressed that there are so many wonderful people in the world that do so much for others! If you know someone in the NICU and want them to get a care package, you can request one for them at http://www.grahamsfoundation.org/home.html . Not sure how I got one, but I really appreciated it!
Today is an exciting and SCARY day for the Milligan 5 as Ella and Slade have been removed from all respiratory support. We are crossing every bone in our body that they both do as well as Claire has and they don't have too many heart rate drops in the night. Slade is also being taken off the Prilosec for his acid reflux but my feeling is that he will be put back on it as he just seems like he is in pain after eating. Progress is great but it definitely makes it hard to sleep at night... Cross your fingers for us!
Here is a picture of the babies all facing the same way...
So I did it, I officially "nursed" Ella & Claire yesterday. I felt a little guilty for betraying my beautiful committed pump which by they way is named "Symphony." However, I soon found that nursing preemies, you don't really get the full effect as their "suck" reflex is weak so afterwards they still have to have a bottle or be tube fed and I have to still pump. Ella wouldn't bat an eye and was not going to even be bothered with this new type of pacifier. In fact she wouldn't even take the bottle afterwards and had to be tube fed. Claire on the other hand decided that she was a ravenous bird and decided she was going to give it a try. She did well and afterwards ate half a bottle and was tube fed the other half. It was a more natural process than I was planning for regardless of the two nurses and one lactation consultant wondering around me and the alarms sounding in the background.
However, my expectations are low for continuing this process when I get home. I will continue to pump so they get breast milk, however the nursing part I think may be too tough with two other babies waiting in the wings. Even yesterday while I was situated with Ella, the other two both had issues from spitting up and chocking to crying and luckily there was a nurse their to assist them. Had it been just me, I would have to unhook a baby to help the others. Plus the time it takes to nurse, then feed a bottle and then pump seems like quite the daunting task when you have to do at least two of those steps two more times. And all of this occurs every three hours in which you must also change diapers, eat, and try to get a wink of sleep. Can you tell I'm starting to get a little overwhelmed at the thought of triplets finally???
Well, today is the ninth week our tiny little babies have lived and its the biggest growth week on record. Ella & Claire both gained 9oz' s and "little" Slade grew a whopping 11oz! They aim for at least 7oz per week so these babies are doing amazing (weights below). Its just crazy that they've all grown at least 3lbs over these last weeks, as my brother said, "where are their stretch marks?"
Otherwise they are just trucking along and while still anything can happen, the drs are so impressed by how good they are doing and I've heard that they all are trying to take credit for their success. Our nurse says the drs argue over who gets them each day because they are so "easy." In fact they are no longer NICU level 1 babies but have been downgraded to level 2 due to their stability. They are now called "feed & grow" babies. Speaking of feed, Ella has been upgraded to 2 bottles per day and Slade will try feeding again tomorrow. I also meet with lactation tomorrow to attempt to nurse which is terrifying as these babies have a hard time sucking but rather enjoy bite and grinding. Ahhh so fun....
To our great joy and excitement, my brother and his wife have welcomed to the world a beautiful baby girl! Coralie Kestrel Peterson was born on September 17th at almost 8lbs! We are so happy to have a new gorgeous niece and cannot wait to meet her and watch her grow! Congratulations Dylan & Kate!
Well Miss Ella decided that the whole room air thing wasn't the right thing for her right now and was put back on her cannula late last night. She just had a few too many heartrate drops and they decided it was early and she didn't need to be pushed quite yet. Otherwise she is doing great and finished her entire bottle today!
Slade is breathing really well on his cannula and we are so happy he's enjoying it! He did not however enjoy his feeding today with the specialist and they've decided to stop his bottle feeding until he is off his cannula. They figure his trouble is due to his acid reflux and the stress of swallowing just adds to the pain and makes it too hard to breathe. But 33 weeks was really early to start feeding anyways so he will try again in a week or so.
Claire continues to breathe perfectly off of her cannula and its great to see her full face once again today. She ate half of her bottle and is handling it well, just has trouble staying awake for the whole thing. Sleepy girl:)
So all in all, still doing great, even if our babies are tuckering out a bit. We have high hopes of getting to try bathing them this weekend and will post a lot of pics if it happens!
Here are the babies in their crib with a blanket up to block out the sunlight...
First off, we were amazed to see that both Ella & Claire were taken off all respiratory support today and are breathing 100% on their own with no tubes! As of tonight they've both had a couple heart rate drops but are still off the cannula's. All they have left are their feeding tubes and once we get them eating all their bottles per day, that will be gone and they can come home! As for Slade, he is now on the lowest setting the cannula offers and is doing well on it. Hopefully in the next week, he too will be on his own! Breathe babies breath!
Also today the merchant of pain came to visit our sweet little babies. He is otherwise known as an opthamolagist. We were at the babies late feeding and didn't expect to see him, but he was running late and we were just in time to hear the cries of pain. Brian was already there and had to stay to feed Ella but I was due for a pump session and retreated into the storage closet. I like to think I'm not a horrible mom for not going to watch but I've already been warned by the nurses of the clasps that hold there eyes open and the drops/lights that are put into there eyes. In my room I could still easily hear the cries and ended up plugging my ears and humming. I thought I should be stronger but turns out I'm still a wuss. Brian told me I made the right decision as he would never watch that again. He figures the only job worse than what that doctor has would be a puppy smasher. But we are glad he exists and this week everyones eyes were the same except it looked like one of Claire's had gotten a bit better.
All three babies have now hit the 4lb mark at there 2 month weigh in! They are also all over 16 inches now! They are starting to just be little babies,not so tiny anymore! Slade did great during his first bottle today! He had a couple heart rate drops but overall did well. Brian fed Ella a bit more aggressively today and she ate all but a couple cc's. Claire too ate a ton! I'm going to try a bit harder to challenge them to eat more today but its soooo scary when they start choking an their alarms go off so I really have to pace them... It truly is a learning experience for all of us!
Claire not liking that her diaper is about to get changed...
So Slade's feeding appt with the speech therapist was moved to Monday so he got the weekend off. Ella and did Claire did ok with just me feeding them although they are still not quite sure if they should suck, swallow or breathe. As I said in the last post, its not ingrained and if given a chance they will literally drink themselves blue (milkaholics). Although that wasn't an issue today as Ella refused to wake up to eat and after about 20 min. I finally got her to drink about 3ml and she had to be tube feed the other 40. Claire however was very alert and did much better than the other day drinking a lot more of her bottle than expected. Progress is great!
Ok, so this is my favorite picture of the year! Any ideas for a caption?
Oh there is just so much exciting news on the Milligan trio front today!! So as you know the girls were moved into their own bassinets yesterday as we were waiting on the triplet crib. Well...the crib came available today and ALL THREE babies were moved into it! It is so cute and so neat to watch them look at each other. I will say its hard sometime to distinguish who's alarm is beeping and who is crying but overall its super cool and we love getting to look at them all at once and compare their facial features.
Also...I was awoken by a phone call by the nurse this morning that they were in need of more milk as they were going to be bottle feeding both Ella and Claire today for the first time (in the past they have had feeding tubes). So my sweet dad quickly drove me to the hospital with two coolers of milk (my supply is dwindling fast) and we were able to watch and learn from the speech therapist how to teach Ella and Claire how to suck, swallow and breathe all at the same time. This is not an ingrained feature that preemies come with so its definitely a process. Ella did terrific, finishing so much of her bottle that they didn't have to even give her extra through her tube! She did choke a little at the end which was scary, but overall a great job! Claire too did well although had a little bit of a harder time than her sister. She seemed to want to breath a lot more than suck and seemed not to care too much about this new pacifier that shot milk. However she did eat about 1/2 of her bottle. Tomorrow I will be on my own to feed the girls one bottle and once they get that down, we will move to two a day, three a day etc, etc. Also, tomorrow at 2pm, Slade will attempt his first bottle as well. Hopefully he will prove that when it comes to eating, he is no wimpy white boy! Then next week, we will attempt the breastfeeding process..stay tuned to learn how a person does this with three babies (I'll be curious to find out as well:))
Today the nurse helped me get Slade out of the incubator and as she placed him in my arms, I looked down only to question for a moment if two of my babies had been switched. That cpap was a very good face mask as I had no idea until today that Slade and Claire just might be identical...twins? No, I'm kidding of course, there is no such thing as identical boy/girl twins but its amazing how much alike they look. I know over the next few weeks they will change but for now I'd be hard pressed to tell them apart in pictures. So suffice to say, he was adorable and it was sooooo great to finally see all of him. He smiled like Claire and stuck his tongue out a lot like Ella. Its so much more funny and less scary holding them now that you can watch their expressions and "monitor" their comfort level. Now Slade, did drop his heart rate and I had to jostle him a bit, but overall it was a good hold. He had a few issues in the morning but hopefully when Brian calls this evening he will still be on the cannula and holding strong! (update, he is doing well and still on the cannula, yeah!)
The girls are doing great in their cribs, but I'll post more about that tomorrow and include their pictures.
As for me, Brian had school tonight so I got to go out for the first time and enjoyed a long dinner with my bookless bookclub ladies. It was so nice to feel "human" again and to gossip and chat. There was a car accident (everyones ok), a mariachi singer who was cooler than a Popsicle, and a leopard print bikini so it was an entertaining night for sure. The only real pitfall (other than Kacey's poor car) was I dumped a HUGE glass of soda down my chest and into my lap leaving me pretty sticky for the rest of the night, oops. Thanks ladies for a keeping my mind off of things for an evening, I had a great time!
Thumb 1: The girls have gotten big enough and are maintaining their temperatures well enough that they have been taken out of their incubators and are now in cribs! The large crib was in use so they are in their own separate cribs but as soon as it comes available, the girls will begin living together. And then at some point Slade will join them and we will have all babies in one crib. They did this after we left today so I will post pictures tomorrow. Go ladies go!
Thumb 2: Slade has been doing so well breathing that tomorrow he will be put on the cannula and we will finally see his face! We are so excited to get to know him by his expressions and fully see who/what he looks like. Yipppeee!!
Thumb 3: The girls had another eye exam today and both have gotten much better. Ella now shows no signs of ROP at all and is classified as a 0 like Slade, hooray! Claire still has signs but instead of a level 2, she is now a level 1 in both eyes and it looks like it is fixing itself. We are now out of the woods for blindness and the worst case scenario is she may have to wear glasses in the future (which they are all probably doomed for with my genes anyway). Yeahhhhh!!!
Today is the 50th day the babies have been in the NICU. In 50 days we have learned a lot. We know in advance what times certain parking areas of the parking garage are fuller and when we need to go to another level. We have found a shortcut up the NICU hill through a secret staircase which saves us approximately 1 minute if the elevator is on time. We know the two front desk clerks by name and they know ours. We are friendly with other parents in our bay and know that Little Kellen is now 5.8lbs and baby Bowden will be extabated tomorrow, both parents are very excited. We know the different sounds different alarms make and can usually tell where they are coming from. We know when to run to a bedside and when to wait and see if the alarm stops. We know that when the scary alarm sounds its usually faster for us to run, open a porthole and jostle a baby before the nurses can put their gowns/gloves on and do the same. We can change a diaper through portholes with wires running up a leg and arms flaing in the air. We can take a baby out of an incubator with no assistance and put them back when we are done. We know what each number means on the breathing machines and when something is of concern. We understand the lingo and know what it means when someone says, "Slade has had 6 a's &b's, we upped his caffeine and are checking his hemocrit. His rate has been removed but we are still maintaining a pressure of seven so hopefully he won't get so tired." We have learned that babies are not just cute but are HILARIOUS. They have a million expressions from startled when a door slams and there eyebrows go up to annoyed when another baby cries to a sleepy smile when they realize that they have peed on their dad for the first time. We learned that gaining weight is a wonderful thing (Ella is now 4lbs!)! We learned that it is a scary rollercoaster, but seeing those cute tiny babies is totally worth it. (This sounds like one of those american express commercials....priceless, ha!)
We probably have another 50 days to go, and I can't even begin to imagine what we have left to learn. But with triplets I have a feeling the learning is never going to stop...
On another note, the other day I was pumping in the hospital storage closet on the phone with my sister in law when I notice something strange in one of the storage incubators. I gasped in horror...
I walked over, removed the sheet and was introduced to Sim Baby... the scariest baby in the hospital...
Yes, while it seems like forever, there are only 2 months left until the babies "official" due date. This date is important as its typically a pretty good indicator of when the babies will get to come home. Some babies come home sooner and some later, it just depends on their progress.
Everyone is doing great and holding steady. Claire has joined Ella and now both girls are on the lowest possible setting on their cannulas, the next step is no assitance at all. Slade has 2 steps to go before being put on the cannula, but we are hoping he will be there by Friday. I'll post this weeks weights in the morning when the nurses have done them.
I thought I was taking a picture of Claire before her diaper change but it turned out to be a short little video that she opened her eyes for. Love it!
Today the babies had their first eye exams and the results could have been better and they could have been worse. First off, the good news is that Slade's eyes looked great. They still aren't fully developed which is expected but their were no signs of any issues. This is especially good because stats show that white males born under 800 grams have about a 80% chance of developing eye issues (darn wimpy white boys). He will continue to be monitored but for now,so far so good!
The girls however did have signs of Retinopathy of Prematurity. ROP is an eye issue that is extremely common with premature babies especially as premature as our babies are. In the most severe of cases, it can cause future vision problems or even blindness. However, this is rare and the "majority" of babies end up with normal vision (some studies say upwards of 90%). Ella and Claire both have Level 1 ROP in one eye and Level 2 in the other. Both levels are classified as "mild". They will check them in a week and we will be hoping for them to get better or stay the same. However, even in cases when they worsen, their is a good chance they will still resolve themselves on their own and cause no further issues. The other 10% that do not resolve on their own still have options that will prevent blindness although I'm not going to go over all that.
So while of course we would of liked to hear that everything was perfect, we understand that this is another "typical" issue that preemies face and it too will pass. In the meantime, we are hopefully for a rapid recovery and no lasting effects. It is tough though after such a nice ride at the top of the roller coaster for the last few weeks to have another dip no matter how expected it is to be...
Here are a couple pictures and videos of Ella. We weren't able to get her smiling but will keep on trying! The doctor said that hopefully in the next couple of days we'll get to see Mr. Slade on a cannula as well, can't wait! Loving the nose, it makes everything seem so much more real and less scary than having all the big tubing and wires...
Ella has done terrific on her cannula and it was great holding her today for the first time with a nose! I took a nice picture but unfortunately now can't find my camera. Hopefully, I'll find it and post it tomorrow! Slade & Claire continue to do terrific as well!
Huge props to all the ladies in the survey who breastfed for over 6 months, you are my hero! I am hopeful to do it that long as well but right now can't imagine pumping every two hours until April of next year which will be 6 months adjusted age (a total of 10 months pumping). Yawnnnnnnnn.....
Yeahhh its official, Ella too has now been moved to the nasal cannula and we have seen a nose! Unfortunately we weren't able to get a picture as we were trying to let her sleep after all the ruckus but we should have one tomorrow during her holding session. Hopefully, she does well on it and doesn't have to go back to the cpap but you never know... She is super cute and has a tiny little nose:)
Claire continues to progress and was all eyes and smiles for her grandpa's visit today. He took some great pictures that I will post soon (dad please email these to me). It funny how they tape her tube really effects how she looks each day. One day she looked a little grumpy, yesterday had chubby cheeks and today looked as if she were smiling every time she moved her mouth.
Slade also is progressing as he has been lowered on his cpap settings. He still has a ways to go before attempting the cannula but each little bit of progress is good news in our eyes. He is tolerating been held very well and has not had any heart rate drops during his holdings over the last few days.
As for us, we are doing well. The process is definitely tiring every day but as they go through these big changes, we get a sigh of relief each successful step. Now I will admit the first 24 hours of Claire on a cannula I felt that I couldn't breath well and now I'm repeating that with Ella. But as the hours wear on, I feel joyful that they are doing so well. In fact the doctor told me yesterday that they were "following the book" on what they like to see preemies do. Their "growth curves" were perfect. Its these kinds of statements that let me sleep a little sounder each night. I will say that as they get bigger though, I think its going to be harder and harder to leave them each night. Tomorrow I see my doctor to see if I've regenerated all my missing blood and to get the A OK to go swimming with my nieces, yippee!! Afterwards, I meet with the babies recreational therapist to learn how to stretch the babies since they lay there most of the day. "Baby Yoga" is what they call it:)