Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Great Night!

We had a really great night!

Earlier in the day, the nurse practitioner came up to our room and told us that both Sophia and Annabel would be getting an IV line put in through their umbilical cord stumps because they had both had a hard time keeping IVs in their little veins.  They did the procedure on both girls this afternoon and everything went very well!  The hope is these IVs will stay in for about 2 weeks so that they won't have to keep poking our little ones.

We also found out that the surfactant seems to be working--Sophia's blood gas levels are significantly decreased (which is what we had hoped for)!!!  This is a big deal, and as of right now, she is beginning to heal herself, and hopefully won't have to get another round of the artificial surfactant.  They will continue to watch her overnight and do more blood work and an x-ray in the morning.

In other Sophia news, the hole in her lung seems to have sealed, and if that remains the case, she will have  her chest tube removed tomorrow as well.  If her chest tube is in fact removed, we will be able to hold our little Sophia for the first time tomorrow!

She also began receiving my breast milk in her feeding tube instead of the water, sucrose, and protein mixture that was being fed to her previously via IV.  Right now, she gets 2 ml (yes, milliliters!) every three hours, but we are very excited about it.

Cross your fingers that she continues to make progress! The nurses, nurse practitioner, and neonatologist (newborn baby doctor) have all told us that there is a chance Sophia could get better quickly and even catch up with her sister!  When I asked the nurse practioner if these were all typical concerns for a 35 weeker, she responded that it's typical in preemies but maybe just a little "dramatic" for a baby of her age-- I guess she takes after he mom!  We have all joked that it will be interesting to see if "dramatic" will define her little personality as she grows.

Although we haven't been able to hold her, she is already very clearly a daddy's girl.  There can be three doctors working on her (and thus upsetting her), and as soon as she hears her dad's voice, she is instantly soothed.

That's all the updates we have on Sophia, and we are hoping for the best and everyone is still confident that she is going to be just fine in due time.

Little Annabel continues to be a rock star preemie.  Her main objective right now is feeding and growing and tanning under the bilirubin lights that David so eloquently explained and ....reflected upon... in our last post.  We still get to hold her and snuggle her for 30 minutes at each feeding time, so that's good news.  She has the most expressive face I've ever seen on such a tiny baby and loves, loves, loves being held.  So far, she has been getting her milk from a feeding tube and occasionally a little syringe dribbled in her mouth, but we decided to try to put some in a bottle tonight and try to feed it to her (she has to be able to either nurse or bottle feed all the time to be able to come home) and she was a CHAMP!  She sucked down her 3ml in seconds and had no issues whatsoever with it.  She then sat up and burped a good burp.  David and my mom were both there and it was a very exciting event!

David even got to change a poopy Annie diaper! :-)

David and I will be heading home tomorrow, which is bittersweet.  While we are looking forward to going to our own home, it breaks our hearts that our baby girls will be staying behind.  The hospital is only about 10 minutes away from our house, but we already know how hectic it has been visiting them just a floor away!  We are still working out a schedule, but our hope is that someone (either me, Dave, my mom or sister) will be there for the majority of the girls' feeding times and beyond.  It's going to be a crazy few weeks until they come home....and it will only get crazier from there!

I think that's it for now...we so appreciate all of your kind words and your care and concern for our family.  It's going to be a long and winding road, but in the end, we will have our girls at home with us ready to meet you all!

Love, Mary

Hours into Days

It seems like we have had our little tube filled and wired bundles of joy for days now. Hmmm – I guess we have.

 This morning Annabel was once again wide awake for her 9am feeding. She was quiet as could be with wide eyed expectation. I think she is begging to learn when it’s time to have her tummy filled. She is really sweet and quite expressive too! She will begin her phototherapy today for jaundice and will probably continue to “tan” for another 3 days until the bilirubin leaves her system. Heh – Billy Reuben – I mean why don’t they call it Jilly Rueben, or Milli Rueben, or god forbid Willy Rueben or Dicky Rueben … humor it heals all wounds, riiiight? In all seriousness, it’s sad to now be limited to only 30 minute increments of QT with her.  

Annabel "tanning" under the lights.  Notice the cute eyelashes on her sunglasses.
Meanwhile Sophia continues to struggle to breathe on her own. The chest tube has relieved all the pressure caused from the air cavity in her chest and the doc thinks the hole in her lung has sealed itself but we won’t know for sure until tomorrow. They plan to pinch the tube early tomorrow morning and if all goes well, remove it by midday. However, it didn’t solve little Sophia’s breathing difficulties. The X-ray this morning showed that her lungs are still under a lot of stress. As a result, they introduced artificial surfactant into her lungs to help them to develop. An hour after the introduction, the blood / gas levels still had not improved. She is still receiving about 40% oxygen mix and she is both sedated and relieved from pain from various medicines. She seems to be breathing more easily but it’s hard to really tell given all the meds that are in her system.  They plan to monitor her for time being and see if her blood / gas levels improve. Ultimately, the doc says she is going to be ok with no long term problems but it’s terribly hard to see your baby girl laying there sedated, full of tubes, wired in every direction, and struggling to breathe to the point that your attempts to soothe her by talking to her or stroking her head may actually be detrimental to her progress.
Sophia getting a short reprieve from her CPAP face mask for a little face massage.

To end this post with some fun – here are some new and wonderful things that a husband gets to learn about life in the “ward” –

Ambulate – the act of a mother moving around the ward or to and from the NICU. (Personally, I think if one is going to Ambulate they should get a light and siren on their wheel chair)

Charting – what nurses do when they aren’t helping patients (we have had some nurses that seem to REALLY like to chart. I won’t mention any names  … cough, cough … Aletha)

Meshies – Super sweet see through mesh panties. (I mean a pregnant mom has to stay cool down under and still look super sexy)

Medical Housekeeper – a person who empties trash. (I don’t know why they need a mop, duster, and a cart full of chemicals to throw out the trash)

Feather Strokes - __________________ (ugg I have been censored, once again!)

 - Daddy David

First 24 hours - Sophia and Annabel

Hi Everyone, Thank you for all your support and inquiries. It's been a pretty eventful couple of days in the hospital for our newest family members. The good news is that Annabel is completely off CPAP and she is digesting her food while her vitals remain stable. This morning we spent a good 20 minutes with her while she was actually awake! It was very exciting for us all! Sophia continues her struggle with being able to breathe on her own. Since my last update there have been a few set backs in her progress. Sophia has been diagnosed with RDS (Respiratory Distress Syndrome). Her lungs didn't have a chance to develop fully and it's ended up being a bit of a challenge for her. Initially, the medical staff put her on CPAP but after 24 hours of lack of progress they took some XRays and found a small hole one of her lungs. The air she breathes has been escaping her lung and creating a a cavity of air in her chest which in turn compresses her lungs and makes it even harder for her to breath. The NICU staff unsuccessfully attempted to remove the pocket of air with a needle and syringe. In order to the keep the air pocket out of her chest while her lungs heal, she now has a tiny needle sized chest tube to release the pressure. She has been breathing well now for 18 hours but her lungs are still unable to process enough oxygen to sustain her vital functions on their own. She currently has been breathing air with a mixture of 42% oxygen and compared to room air which is 21% oxygen. The goal is to get her below 40% oxygen mixture before additional steps are taken to help our baby girl breathe. She has an Xray at 8am this morning to look at her lungs and determine what the next steps will be for her recovery. Annabel eats at 2am, 5am, 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm, and 11pm each day. We try to spend each of those feeding times with the babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit but it's quite a process to do so. Mary is still recovering from the surgery and it takes nearly 30 minutes to get her all set to "ambulate" down the NICU. Once we are there, we spend about an hour with the babies and then return to the room for an hour's rest before we do it all over again. Needless to say sleep has been a missing part of our routine. So, if we have been less communicative than normal, please bear with us as we are keeping busy with our new routine. We appreciate all the support that you have all given us! We can't wait to bring out babies home and the staff here has assured us that many premature babies face the same challenges that Sophia is currently facing and that she will make a full recovery! David and Mary

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Meet Our Girls!

 November 28, 2011 12:28PM

Annabel Grace Montero
5lbs 8oz and 18.5”

Sophia Marguerite Montero
4lbs 11oz and 17.75”


6pm Update: Great news - Annabel is now able to fully breathe on her own. Sophia is working hard at it too but she's still attached to the CPAP. We're so proud of our baby girls! Mary and I are going to hold Annabel for the first time in 15 minutes. We'll have to wait until Sophia graduates from the CPAP to hold her :(

Thank you for you all your support and we look forward to the day that baby girls get to meet you all!

David and Mary