Thursday, March 30, 2017

Going home and sisters meeting!

Being in the NICU is hard, and it's something you really don't understand until you have to go through it I think. Though, I am so thankful that our case was one of the best case scenarios and that our girls were "the rockstars of the unit" and "stable" and "easy" cases as some of the doctors said. There were some babies there that were so tiny and that had been there for a lot longer than us, and I pray that they can go home quickly!

Our 10 days there felt quite long at times, but I'm very grateful for the nurses and doctors that took such excellent care of our girls. I will remember some of them forever. My sister is a NICU nurse, and what a neat job that is with a great opportunity to make a difference to families. Now that I've been a NICU parent myself, I'm beyond grateful that care like that exists and that there are loving people who provide it.

By far, the hardest part of the process was being away from Norah. She was able to come visit us a few days, but it definitely wasn't the same and it was short because kids weren't allowed in the NICU because of flu season. So she never got to meet her sisters until we came home! It was also hard on Norah having us gone for so long and it was hard for her to say goodbye to us. We both shed many a tear over it, I think, and it still makes me tear up today. Both sets of grandparents took amazing care of her though and she had lots of fun with them, so I'm glad she got to be surrounded by loving family when we couldn't be there.

That said, the day we got to go home was a joyous day! It was so nice to be in our own home again and to be together as a family of five. My mom has been staying with us too and has been an amazing help.

Here we are packing up and getting ready to head out- first outfits and first time holding both together!

Ellory makes wide eyed faces when something big or different happens, and it's pretty funny. I think she's wondering what in the world is going on.

We're out of here!

Welcome home, Lucy and Ellory!

Norah meeting the girls was so special. She was so excited and wanted to get them out of their car seats right away. She kissed them and wanted to hold them immediately. She even started singing, "If You're Happy and You Know It" and made them clap their hands. It was adorable.

Three sisters together!

So excited!

This last picture is my favorite because of the look on Norah's face. I will treasure these pictures forever. So thankful for our three beautiful girls!

Monday, March 27, 2017

More twin photos from the NICU.

People keep asking for photos, so I'm trying to deliver. Here are some more shots from our stay at the NICU. 

Norah watching Lucy over the webcam with Grandma.

Hanging out in the visiting area.

Norah opening her big sis present from her sisters.

Princess legos!

Elizabeth and I.

Dad and mom.

Uncle Zack and Aunt Karlie.



Aunt Elizabeth and Lucy.

Grandma and Lucy.

Daddy and Ellory.

Ellory sucking her thumb- and she did not like wearing the glasses with the jaundice light, she pushed them off her eyes numerous times!

Lucy under the lights, and with her IV in her head, poor girl.

Taking Norah swimming in between feedings. Such fun!

Being away from Norah was the hardest part of staying in the NICU. We missed her so!

Even though they wouldn't let her into the NICU because of flu season, she was still the cutest big sis ever and she couldn't wait to hold them!

Great Grandpa and Lucy.

Great Grandma and Ellory.

Big yawn from Ellory!



Getting weighed. Near the end that was our only hold up to going home- we needed to gain weight!

One of the nurses made these cute crafts with them- my teacher heart was very pleased, so cute!

Big stretches!

First outfits, or at least a onesie since their feet had too many cords.

Sleeping hard.

Great Grandpa and Great Grandpa (my mom's parents) got to come meet the girls.

We are thankful they were so well taken care of!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Our NICU story.

Lucy and Ellory arrived on February 23, 2017 at 9:09 and 9:11pm because my water broke. They had a scheduled c-section for March 6, but they wanted out before then! The c-section went very well and they were pretty good weights, considering how early they were (Lucy was 18 inches and 5 pounds 7 ounces, and Ellory was 18.5 inches and 5 pounds 10 ounces). They went straight to the NICU because they were born before 36 weeks. (We did not know that that was an automatic, and we wish someone would have told us that!)

We are so thankful that they have been doing well the entire time and that we never had anything dangerous or really serious happen. Ellory had to go on the C-PAP machine for a couple hours after birth to help her breathe better because she didn't have good pressure in her lungs, but that was short lived, and it was off before the first time I even fed them. Lucy didn't have to go on anything. Praise God that they were that healthy!

They were put on IV's right away to help with hydration/nutrition, and then also received NG tubes from their nose to their stomach, so they could be fed through the tube in case they didn't nurse well. We have tried nursing from the start, and they have done really well. Nurses and doctors have commented several times on how well they are doing, especially for their age. It was slower at the beginning, especially with Lucy, but they caught on pretty quickly and have been doing quite well. They kept the IV's for a couple days, and gradually increased their tube feedings (when needed) also, starting with 5 CC's and going all the way to 50 CC's. If they nursed for less than 5 minutes, they were given the entire feeding through the tube; if they nursed for 5-10 minutes, they got half the feeding; and if they nursed more than 10 minutes, they didn't need anything through the tube. They were able to go up to a full feeding (50) on Wednesday and get their tubes out on Thursday (when they were one week old). That means that they can now nurse/eat whenever they want, but they are basically on the same three hour schedule (6, 9, 12, and 3).

Both also had to go under the jaundice lights for a few days in the beginning for having high bilirubin levels. They raised slightly after going off of them and we worried they would have to go back under, but we are thankful they didn't. Ellory also had to use a special fungal treatment diaper cream every other change, because she had a “yeasty bottom” that looked red and pimply, but the cream helped a lot and it looks much better.

Basically, the main reason they were in the NICU was to learn how to eat better/consistently on their own and to gain weight. Lucy's bilirubin score went down, and we need Ellory's to start to go down too in order to go home. We also need two days of weight gain to be able to go home, which Lucy needs to work on, because she's lost more than she's gained.

They got their IV out earlier in the week, and were able to get their NG tubes out on Thursday night (3/2), so then we had to have two days of weight gain and Ellory's bilirubin score needed to go down to be able to go home. We also started completing all the check out tests, like watching the safety videos, hearing/heart screens, and car seat tests. Thankfully her score went down, but on Friday night Ellory had gained weight, but Lucy did not. We were really disappointed and went to bed sad, but in the morning when I went back to feed, we had great news that the doctor has reweighed them later in the night, and Lucy had gained! That meant that we could count Friday as a plus day because they only have to enter their weights in once, so we could count the later ones instead. Yay! We all prayed really hard that weekend for weight gain. Saturday was another good day and they gained again (a small amount, but we'll take it!), and we were able to go home on Sunday (3/5).

It was a joyous day to be able to go home, though we are thankful for the great care they received and the many amazing nurses. The hardest part was being away from Norah for so long, so going home and being together as the five of us is a huge blessing. Watching Norah meet her sisters was so great! We wouldn't wish a NICU stay on anyone, but are thankful that it went well for us and that the girls are healthy!

(A post with more NICU pictures to come too!)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Lucy and Ellory's birth story.

The twins have arrived and it's two GIRLS! We are so excited and thankful to have three beautiful daughters. Seeing their sweet faces and holding them has been so special. We love them so much already!

I am grateful to have had a healthy pregnancy without big complications. I'm so glad that they were healthy and that I did not have to go on bed rest. Early on in the pregnancy, they thought Lucy might have had a possible heart gap, but after another ultrasound where they examined the hearts, they said she was fine. Ellory had velamentous cord insertion, which is where the cord is attached to the membranes instead of the placenta, so they said we would have to watch her growth throughout the pregnancy and also that we would have to have a c-section, because labor is very dangerous with that and can cause rupturing, which would get dangerous for her quickly. Thankfully, her growth was always as it should be and it didn't cause a problem during her arrival either.

Back pain was my worst pregnancy symptom, but I made it to 33 weeks feeling pretty good. During week 34, I started to have contractions. I had a lot of contractions through the night, and we went to the hospital on Tuesday, February 14. They monitored me all day, and I was definitely having contractions, but not terribly painful ones and I was not dilated at all and they said my cervix was nice and long. They ended up sending me home with medication to try to stop the contractions. It didn't work very well, and I continued to have contractions off and on. I had a regularly scheduled appointment on Friday, February 17 and they said I was 1-2cm dilated, but said that was okay because 3cm is considered active labor and I wasn't having consistent contractions. I had contractions close and consistent throughout the night on Saturday, and we went to the hospital again Sunday, February 19. The contractions tapered off while we were there, and they said I was still 1-2cm dilated and sent us home, just saying to come back if anything changed or got really strong/close.

Thankfully, the contractions really died down and I only felt a few random contractions a day the next week. They had set the c-section date for Monday, March 6, at 37 weeks. I was feeling pretty good and was starting to get convinced that I would actually make it to the 6th. But, things usually happen when you least expect it, and on Thursday, February 23, my water broke! It was so different than with Norah. I had just taken a little nap and was going to sit down to read my chapter for Bible study at 3pm before Norah woke up, and as I sat down I felt a little gush, and pretty quickly my underwear was all wet and even a spot on my pants. I walked around for a few minutes, wondering if it was real, but I continued to slowly leak, and after 20 minutes I called Kley to come home and we packed up and headed to the hospital! We brought Norah with us because Brad was in meetings and Jana was in Omaha, so thankfully it was pretty uneventful and I wasn't in pain.

When we got to the hospital, they checked me and ran some tests, and my water had definitely broken, but I was not having contractions. They said it was too far for me to drive with Kley to Sioux Falls, so I would have to ride in the ambulance. Orange City only does c-sections for twins after 36 weeks, but we had already planned to go to Sioux Falls to be close to the NICU in case we needed it. A big snowstorm was also coming, and we thankfully made it just as it was getting bad. Kley followed the ambulance in our car. They talked about the helicopter, but they didn't want to fly it with the weather. Norah got upset when she saw me going into the ambulance, but Kley said she calmed down after a few minutes and Kley dropped her off to play with Sophie until Jana got back. I'm glad we had brought Norah with us because it was special to have a few moments together before I left as just the three of us, and to give her goodbye hugs as the last time as our only baby!

The ambulance ride was pretty uneventful, thankfully. I did start to feel some contractions as we got closer, but they weren't too painful. Once we got there, at about 7:30, they took me to a triage room, and they came and checked me in and started doing things to get ready for the c-section, and had the doctor and the anesthesiologist come talk to me. They started to bring me down around 8:30, and it was quite the experience! Kley had to stay back to get his scrub outfit on, and they wheeled me down to the brightest, whitest, most sterile, stark room I've ever seen. I just sat on the table for a little bit while everyone around me was getting ready, and then they started! They gave me the numbing shot in the back, and it took effect very quickly (like within 10 seconds). They laid me down and put the curtain up, and I don't know what else really happened because I couldn't see. I remember one of the anesthesiologists was very encouraging and kept telling me it would be okay and told me about his own twins. I remember asking when Kley could come in, and I also remember crying and shaking through basically the entire procedure. Kley said they had already started cutting me when he came in. I felt lots of pressure and pulling, but no pain. I was shaking a lot, especially my arms, and I felt like someone was sitting on top of me and I had to gasp for breath (which they said was all normal). They say nausea is quite common, but I only felt nauseous for about a minute after the girls were both out and then it passed.

The doctor asked me before if I wanted her to announce the genders or Kley, and I said I wanted Kley to do it. I remember the doctor asking for dad to take a look, and Kley said it was a girl, and quickly after asked him to look again and he announced we had another girl! We had guessed it was one of each, but were thrilled with two girls!

Lucy Jo was born at 9:09pm and was 18 inches and 5 pounds 7 ounces. The doctors asked if she had a name and I heard Kley tell them it was Lucy. Ellory Joy was born at 9:11pm and was 18.5 inches and 5 pounds 10 ounces. I didn't hear the doctor ask, so when they brought the girls over, I asked what he named her, and he said he wanted to name her Ellory and asked what I thought, and I said yes. We knew we were going to use the name Lucy, but we had two other girl names, and I told Kley before that if it was two girls, he could pick which one he wanted and I would be fine with either one.

Kley went to take pictures of the girls, and a few minutes later they brought them over to me to see them. I remember kissing both of their cheeks, but didn't really get to touch them because my arms were shaking so much. Kley went with the girls, and it felt like forever laying on the table alone, waiting for them to be finished. Afterwards I had to go to recovery for two hours before they would let me go see them, which felt like a very long time too. Kley came to see me twice, but I kept telling him it was okay to be with the girls, and he called our other siblings who couldn't be there to tell them the news. Near the end of the time, my parents and Kayla arrived, and we talked to them for a few minutes before heading up to see the girls.

Around midnight, we got to go see them, but they were still checking things out, so we only got to stay for a few minutes, and we didn't get to come back down to hold/feed them until about 4am. It was so special to hold them for the first time! I know parenting is so worth it, but it also felt overwhelming to know that twins were coming, so it was reassuring to be able to see their sweet faces and hold them.

My parents and Kayla were there that night (they made it through the snow storm!), and so was Elizabeth. Brett, Brad, Jana, Zack, and Karlie made it the next day. Norah wasn't able to meet them because they went right to the NICU, and they weren't allowing young kids in because of flu season, but she couldn't wait to hold them!

Lucy and Ellory, we are so glad you are here. You are already a tremendous blessing. We love you and love being your parents!




Happy mom and dad!