life in the NICU

IMG_5404.JPG The NICU breaks my heart. Seeing my girls in their incubators with their nasal gastric (NG) tubes and undergoing phototherapy for their jaundice makes me sad. My only saving grace is knowing that they’re on the upswing and doing better everyday. Holding, feeding, and talking with them is comforting. Watching them calm and soothe to our voices, back rubs, and holding their hands makes me feel like I’m doing something to help make them more comfortable. I’m (finally) starting to produce milk so contributing there also helps a lot. Right now they’re on donor breast milk so while I’m grateful for that, I’m looking forward to being able to feed my girls myself.

Everyday is different. It has it’s own victories and struggles. Our girls were progressing and doing well, headed home until the bilirubin in their blood increased. Looking back, I can see the yellowing in their skin and the whites of their eyes but I just thought that their skin had a yellow undertone & that their yellowing of the whites of their eyes was normal and would change over the course of time.

With Lo & Rhy being premature there’s so much that would develop & mature as they grew. Their livers being one of them. All babies are born with a level of bilirubin but preemies are more susceptible to jaundice due to the immaturity of their livers. I didn’t think jaundice was that big of a deal….. Until one of my girls had a level so high that could have damaged her brain. Fortunately, when we transferred units, her doctor in the new unit caught it soon enough and was proactive enough to start intensive phototherapy to bring her levels down quickly. And, thank God it worked. You have no idea the terror that washed over my body when the doctor updated me on their condition. For her to say that she’s “very concerned” terrified me. Although both girls have jaundice, one’s case was a lot more severe than the others. So, it was a matter of making sure who was who and whose levels were what and what therapy would be used for which kid. I’m already learning that with twins, it’s important to make sure the nurses and doctors know names and who is who because things can get really tricky, really fast.

IMG_5400.JPG What broke my heart the most was while they’re undergoing their phototherapy, they stay under the lights all day and only come out for feedings. (Their diapers can be changed in their incubator.) This was tough for us because we’d hold them for the duration of the majority of our visits, sometimes only putting them back to sleep. Not being allowed to do that hurt, especially when they were upset. We’d just talk to them and rub backs and hold hands through the little doors of the incubator. Tough part is when you stopped, they’d cry. So, we just stood there consoling them for however long it took.

IMG_5402.JPG Now, holding them for hours on end may seem like we’re headed down a path leading to disaster but NICU life is very different from the reality of having them home. In NICU, they have a nurse who is also responsible for 2, maybe 3 other babies. Most were sicker than our girls but recently our girls were more sick than the the other 2 babies their nurse was caring for. While I (obviously) love, respect, and will forever appreciate the NICU & their staff (they’re uhhhhhhh-MAZING!!!!!!), the reality of the situation is that they can’t hold these babies all the time. Due to prematurity, most need to be as still as possible, in their heated incubators to help them control their body temps, and conserve their energy. They shouldn’t be handled much. Also, there’s too much to do; there’s no time to sit and cuddle babes all day. Last, can you imagine the flack they’d get from parents about why this baby was held this long and that baby that long but my baby only this amount of time?! Trust me, as a teacher, it’s not a good idea!! All that to say, unless we’re holding them, they’re in their beds all day save being fed or bathed. And, that I’m not a fan of. I believe they need physical touch and cuddling, we all need the benefits of skin to skin, and a little body heat never hurt anyone! So, all day cuddles for the win!

We could tell today that they are feeling much, much better and that made this mama heart so happy! The high levels of bilirubin caused the girls to be very sleepy and lethargic and the lights caused them to dehydrate and lose weight. But, today, after a couple of days under lights, they are back to their alert and very feisty selves. It’s so funny to watch them fight things they don’t like and hold on to what they do! Their doctor has increased their feeds and finishing every other bottle or so which is waaaaay better than yesterday and especially the day before. They’d be so tired and drained that they’d sleep through most feedings and have to get the remainder of their milk tubed. But today!!!!!!!! my girls are eating like champs so I’m hoping they put on a few grams everyday. Consistent, daily increases in weight (even as slight as grams) is one of the requirements to get us out the door.

I’m thankful that their last day of phototherapy was today and they should be coming off lights tomorrow. I’m looking forward to meeting with the doctor tomorrow and praying for an excellent report. I’m looking forward to my girls being in NICU to just “feed and grow” like before. 12-15 hour days at the NICU aren’t fun at all…. I’m ready for all of us to be in our own beds and free from pokes and prods!!

IMG_5341.JPG My girls are definitely tough… But, more than that, their creator has his eye on them and has already written them into such a beautiful story. A story that will bring God so much glory and praise. This NICU life is scary for sure, but we are truly learning to trust God in a completely different arena. And, for that I’m truly grateful for this experience. It’s difficult to say you trust God with your entire life but have only had only Him to lean on in a couple of areas. The ability to trust God in every of your life means that you’ve had to learn to trust Him in every area of your life…… Which means you’ve been tested in all things. “No matter what” is easy when things are going well, ya know?

The mom of a NICU “alum” told us that there is life after the NICU……. I’m so ready to start that leg of this journey!!!

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surprise, surprise!

I am at a complete loss for words right now. Tears are flowing and my heart is so very full.

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WE ARE PREGNANT!!!!!!!!
SERIOUSLY.

So, I’m going to break this news up into a couple, maybe three, posts. There just seems to be so much going on and so much that I want to say, there’s so much to process. And, all of it won’t fit cohesively into one post!

When I began this blog three years ago this past May, I said that I would be so open and transparent in sharing the good, bad, and ugly of our journey. During the fertility treatments, I knew that if they went well, there is no way I would hold the news for 12 weeks, through the first trimester. I knew that I would keep the blog as current as I could. I held very little back during the adoption processes, withholding what I did out of my desire respect our birth family…. this has been a very open space. My space. The place I came to deal with a lot of what I was going through, to connect with other women who were experiencing the same things I’d had, to let others know that they aren’t alone in what they were feeling and going through.

And, I want to hold true to that.
Yes, I am fully aware how early we are in our pregnancy. Yes, I understand how things can go very wrong at any moment (um, hello… have you read my blog? lol). I understand exactly what I’m doing. And, I know that as excited as many of you are, some of you may be a little fearful or concerned. Take those fears and concerns to the cross and kneel right beside me. We’re in the same boat, sister (or brother)! Nothing has ever felt more real or scary. Nothing has felt more important.

So…. OMG!!! lol.
This is happening.

We are literally smack dab in the middle of the first trimester – 6 weeks tomorrow. I’ve known for about  a week and a half that this little bun has been tagging along with me but it feels much longer than that.

But, I am grateful. Scared, but so thankful. Shocked and humbled at God choosing to give us the desires of our hearts in the way that He has. At the time that he has. It’s unreal to have lived all of this and to KNOW that God had this in his plan the whole time.

To literally see how God keep his promises.
To see how He provides for his children.
To see how He takes what’s done to harm you & work things out for your good.
To see how all things work together.
To see how He gives you a crown of beauty for your ashes.
To see how He lifts up your head.
To know that He hasn’t forgotten about you.
To know that His timing is truly perfect.

It truly doesn’t seem real. It’s still a dream.
I can’t wait to see our little bun, our blessing.
He gave us a sweet little life.
The greatest surprise of all.

We are having a baby!!!! 

And, yes, while we are excited and adjusting to the newness and life changes that comes with having a little in-house partner in crime, we are praying/expecting/believing all things to go well- that I will carry our little bun full term and that we will both cross that 40 week finish line healthy and extremely happy! We hope that you’ll pray for those things, as well!<

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on Wednesdays, we worship

20140528-131622-47782128.jpgDon’t know if we could ever truly become strong, brave, believers, faithful, or wise without hardships, heartbreak, and tragedy. We would never learn to thrive in the valleys and raging storms of life. We’d never know what we could accomplish, create, or become.

Life can truly be a bitch to us. I mean a real life, never ease up, angry for no reason a**hole to us. Ya know? Like a ‘why are you so rude?’ type of behavior. Buuuut, I’ve come to learn to not be bothered by such foolishness & people such as these. You can learn so much from them. They grow you up, they mature you. They teach you life lessons that would never be taught if your feathers weren’t ever ruffled and your abilities relentlessly challenged.

Life can make us feel as if we have been uprooted and in the eye of a tornado, like we’re being tossed on the waves by winds of hurricanes, and scorched by the unforgiving sun…. there are days that will make you feel as if you will never experience God-good…. And, the amazing that does come seems to only be for a brief moment, lasting long enough for you begin to enjoy it before it’s taken away.

But, then…..

Like beginnings of love, out of nowhere you’re overwhelmed with a realization that can’t easily be put into words. The rain slows, the clouds begin to part and light appears. A rainbow is seen. Puddles begin to dry, you hear the songs of the birds; it’s almost as if life begins all over again.

Receding waters and drenched gardens remind us of what we went through, that we were always kept, & that there will be a tomorrow filled with grace & reason to worship. New life, rainbows, & light testify to the facts that God is always true to his promises, that he sees us, and has a REAL plan to redeem everything we’ve lost.

To witness the darkness give way to light is an act of God that is incomparable. It’s inspiring. It’s beauty in it’s purest, most natural form.

I feel as if I’m walking outside after the worst of storms. Assessing damage, picking through the aftermath in the light & warmth of the sun. Slowly piecing life back together again. Grateful for the new beginning.
The chaos is over. The old is torn down, and foundation for rebuilding something seriously glorious and new has been set. Realizing that that foundation is the sum total of everything we’ve been through, that it is literally the “all” that has been worked together for our good.

God’s grace is more than sufficient, His mercies are unbelievably real.

We have been completely broken, but God has redeemed every piece of our past. He has rebuilt us. He has been with us the whole way comforting us, binding our wounds, wiping our tears, and holding our hands. He has been giving us glimpses of his power and ability, not teasing us, not pulling at our heart strings for his own pleasure; but He has taught us that when we allow Him to lead us, whether through hell & high water or fields of beautifully clothed lilies, He is taking personal care of us. He has never left us.

I realize this post is kind of everywhere, for that I apologize; it’s because my mind and heart are unable to process much right now but at the same time there is an unreal peace and calmness that has settled and left me in a place of disbelief, humility, & amazement.

On Wednesdays we worship because it’s because the faithfulness of our God that new life has begun.

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