They’re coming home!!!

Rooming in went well, Mr. Cullen passed his car seat test today, and we’re all set to bring them home tomorrow morning!

What a special day it will be ūüôā

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The news we’ve all been waiting for…

The countdown has been continuing this week and the boys have done well and not had any episodes that needed stimulation. We’re almost afraid to announce it for fear of it not coming true, but if they both behave themselves, we’ll be “rooming in” tonight (Sunday) and bringing them both home on Tuesday morning!!! We’re SO excited and honestly can hardly believe the day is finally almost here.

“Rooming in” means we stay at the hospital in the NICU Courtesy Suite (one of the hospital rooms) for 24 hours and have them in the room with us. It’s basically to help transitioning from the NICU to the home, to give you a day with the babies under your care but with hospital staff checking in and making sure they feed well, etc. They also spend some time teaching you things like Infant CPR and preemie-related issues we’ll need to deal with upon discharge. Then we’ll go home Monday night and get some rest before we pick them up Tuesday morning and dive into the craziness that will be our new life with twin babies (as the neonatologist keeps telling us – go have a romantic dinner and get your last full night of sleep for a VERY LONG TIME!).

Lane passed his car seat test (being strapped into the car seat and maintaining breathing for an hour) last night and his 8 days were completed today – so he’s good to go! ¬†Praise Jesus! ¬†The plan is to take them both home at the same time for various logistical reasons so he’ll wait on his “big” brother. ¬†Cullen’s 8 days are up on Tuesday and he didn’t quite pass his car seat test last night (had a few little desats because he kept curling up in a ball) so he’ll try again tomorrow morning. ¬†There’s no reason to believe he can’t pass it so hopefully he’ll be up to the challenge tomorrow. ūüôā

Thank you SO MUCH for all of your prayers – God is answering them! We’ll keep you posted!

Highs & Lows of the NICU

**This was written a while ago, but never posted – now that we’re nearing the end of the boys’ NICU stay, we wanted to post it so that we have a written record of this time, since this is just as much an online journal for us as it is a blog to keep others updated. Praise the Lord for his faithfulness to us through this period!***

I wanted to write a little more candidly about our NICU experience, really as a record for our own memory – so that we can look back on this time and see how God, family, and friends held us up and got us through it, and so our boys can one day know how much we loved them from the day that they were born and how hard it was to leave them in the hospital for the first weeks/month of their little lives.

I’ll never forget the first time I was wheeled into the NICU on my hospital bed, an hour after surgery, still unable to even sit up. ¬†I was so excited to get to see my sons, and I had tried to prepare myself for what I might see -but nothing can really prepare you for the sight of your babies with wires coming from everywhere, hooked up to all of these machines. ¬†I just cried – feeling giddy that they were here and I could look at them, guilty that I wasn’t able to keep them growing in my stomach longer, and heartbroken that they were going through all of this. ¬†I couldn’t even really see their faces from my bed and kept asking Jeff who they looked like. ¬†Later in the privacy of our room I started sobbing because I was so frustrated that I could hardly see them and could only reach my arm out and touch their tiny feet. ¬†This wasn’t the childbirth experience I’d always imagined. ¬†That night I begged to be able to use a wheelchair to see them better, and two long days later I FINALLY held them in my arms for the first time – I’ll always cherish that moment. ¬†Walking out of that hospital without the boys was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but at least I knew my babies would be okay and would be coming home eventually. ¬†I cannot even imagine what it would be like to have a child who didn’t make it or was fighting for his life in the NICU, the outcome unknown. ¬†My heart breaks for those who’ve had to go through that.

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Life in the NICU is an emotional rollercoaster. Some days the babies make incredibly exciting improvements, and others they experience setbacks or just kind of maintain the status quo, which can be very discouraging. ¬†Some days you leave elated, while other days you leave in tears. You sort of get used to the routine of driving to the hospital twice a day to visit them for as long as you can, but it’s so abnormal to be limited to seeing your own babies at certain hours and only for certain lengths of time. ¬†Thankfully the staff is wonderful–amazing–and they take such great care of the boys. They truly love them and even fight over who gets assigned to them. ¬†Yet you struggle with feeling like you aren’t the primary caregiver for your children. ¬†You don’t get to make the decisions about their day-to-day care. At the same time, would you all even be here without them -without modern medicine? It’s a perplexing thought, too hard to even think about for very long.

I fall more in love with them every day, but feel like I’ve missed out on that fierce bonding time most moms have with their baby immediately – though I know it will come when we get them home with us. ¬†It feels strangely surreal that we’ve actually had two children. ¬†Their cribs and our house are empty and quiet, and it’s just the two of us again – without the kicking to feel in my belly.

And yet, there have been so many sweet things to remember about this time – so many wonderful friends who go out of their way to take care of us and come visit the boys in the NICU, God providing for medical bills in crazy ways, family who call several times a day to get updated on the boys’ progress and either go see them every chance they get, or scour the internet for a cheap flight to make it down here again! ¬†Jeff and I continue to grow closer and learn how to support each other. ¬†I’ve never been more thankful for the partner God gave me.

In the hospital, my mom said that no matter how crazy life with twins gets this first year, we’ll be so much more grateful for it because we’ve had this experience and will be so happy to finally have them home. ¬†I think that will end up being very true. ¬†Nothing is more exciting right now than thinking about their homecoming and being together as a family around the clock! ¬†The Lord has been so good to us and we are really humbled by his provision and protection. ¬†The boys really have done so well for the most part – and it’s all because of the One who created them. ¬†This time in the NICU may seem long right now, but before we know it they’ll be home and we’ll probably be wishing we could go out to dinner alone again! There are so many things to look forward to… thank you, Lord, for the gift of our sons, for their health and growth. ¬†They really are miracles; may we never take them for granted.

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Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

One month old!

Today Lane & Cullen are one month old! It’s really hard to believe. It’s bittersweet – we’re excited for this birthday, but sort of sad that they’ve spent the first month of their little lives in the hospital. It’s hard not to feel like you’ve missed out on a lot. BUT – we will choose to celebrate this day and thank the Lord for our two precious gifts!

We took some cupcakes to the NICU to celebrate the milestone and to thank them for all they’ve done for our family – they are all wonderful and have taken amazing care of our sons. Over the past month we’ve really gotten to know them and it will be strange not seeing them once they head home!
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Here are the boys at one month:

it only took 5,000 attempts to get one with both of their eyes open!

it only took 5,000 attempts to get one with both of their eyes open!


Their outfits are newborn size. We'll get there!

Their outfits are newborn size. We'll get there!

Cullen- 6 lbs., 5 oz.
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Lane – 5 lbs., 5 oz.

His curly mowhawk has been getting him lots of attention around the NICU.

His curly mowhawk has been getting him lots of attention around the NICU.

How exciting to think that the 2-month picture will be taken at HOME! (without wires and NICU machines in the background… ūüėČ )

Look closely…

…what’s missing in this photo?

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FEEDING TUBES!

Today the boys got them removed – they’re on their own for feedings! This is a huge step. They are now officially on a countdown – 7 days without a breathing episode that requires stimulation and they can come home!!! So we’re hopefully looking at them leaving the NICU sometime next week or weekend – they may come home together, or one at a time, depending on when they each string together those 7 days. We are so excited – sounds like the end is near! We’d love your prayers for their breathing this week.

They actually only wrote an order for Cullen’s tube to be pulled out (they call it “tough love” – making them try to do all feeds on their own, letting them realize that if they don’t eat they’ll be hungry). They were going to wait a day or two for Lane since he hadn’t been eating quite as much – but he started to pull his out again (they both hate those tubes and have pulled them out SO many times) while we were there and it was making him have a hard time breathing, so the nurse practitioner just said what the heck – he can try it too! We knew he was a feisty little guy.

One more prayer request – Cullen’s head is a bit flat on his right side, so they’re going to be watching him to make sure some of the bones in his skull haven’t closed in too early. If this is the case, he would need surgery. We’re hoping it’s just because of all the laying in their bassinets – he tends to only lay on that side since it’s the one that faces out and often that can cause the flatness. We were given some tips to work with him on once he comes home, and we’ll follow up with our pediatrician once he’s discharged.

For now though, it’s been a great day and we’re praying our little guys keep up the good work!

Time for a good time

Last night we decided to get out and joined the Patnode crew for some tailgating and an Alan Jackson concert! ¬†My sister went too and we had a lot of fun, although it was insanely HOT! ¬†Even though I felt guilty at first, it was really good for us to get away from the ups & downs of the NICU for a night and just have some fun! ¬†Plus, the boys do have EXCELLENT babysitters right now and once they come home we certainly won’t be able to do things like this for a while. ūüėČ

Grillmasters

Grillmasters

Sisters!

Sisters!

The girls

The girls

Jen & me

Jen & me

Just the two of us

Just the two of us

Big Boys!

The boys are getting so big! ¬†Cullen hit 6 pounds and Lane hit 5 pounds last night! ¬†Their little cheeks are starting to fill out and they’re looking more like newborns instead of preemies. ¬†We’re so happy with how well they’re gaining weight. ¬†Other than that, there isn’t really anything new to report for now – but as the staff always tells us, no news is good news in the NICU. ¬†Both boys are still having a few desats here and there so unfortunately we still don’t really have a clearer timetable of when they’ll be able to come home – but the NICU staff does think they’re starting to round the corner on eating. ¬†They’re taking slightly more bottles than gavage (tube) feedings and we’re hoping they’ll keep improving and be able to eliminate gavage feeds before too long.

Lane's crazy hair after a bath

Lane's crazy hair after a bath

Sleepy Cullen

Sleepy Cullen

L & C love to watch their daddy

L & C love to watch their daddy

Both awake at the same time!

Both awake at the same time!

Mommy & her boys

Mommy & her boys

Love them so much.

Love them so much.

NICU Day 24

Wow – can’t believe it’s been that long. ¬†Good reports today – both boys behaved themselves and didn’t have any episodes last night, and both did well on their feedings so far today – Cullen even took his whole bottle without having a significant desat! ¬†At an appointment today, my blood pressure was super low again (same as last week when I went in because I’d been very dizzy and weak) ¬†so they’ve discontinued one of my BP medications, and next week I should be off the other one and back to my normal self again – thank goodness! ¬†I’m ready to feel strong again (and I’m sure our beloved medical specialist Aunt Kristen is ready to hear me reporting normal BP’s – not high/low extremes! ;)).

And because a post without a picture is no post at all… here’s “Pops & Gramzie” (Gram Z… we’re trying it out, I think it’s cute!) with their grandsons:

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And one of the boys snuggling together – our new favorite thing to let them do now that they can reach each other!

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pictures and an update

Uncle Kyle & Cullen

Uncle Kyle holding Cullen for the first time

Lauren, Kyle, & Lane

Lauren, Kyle, & Lane

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C-man

C-man

Laner!

Laner!

CWP

CWP

LDP

LDP

Kyle came into town and got to hold the babies last night – he hadn’t seen them since right when they were born, so they looked really different to him! ¬†Sadly, Lane had an apnea episode that required a good bit of stimulation while we were there – pretty upsetting to watch. ¬†It was a hard night. ¬†We talked to the neonatologist today and it helped us understand more of what was going on. ¬†He doesn’t think they’ll need transfusions, but you just never know. ¬†He also said he’d expect somewhere around the 2-week range for when they’ll go home. ¬†It’s longer than we were hoping for but at least it helps to have more realistic expectations. ¬†On the bright side, they both did great feeding today!