Wednesday, June 15, 2016

PTSD and the NICU...

I haven't ever posted a lot about our final moments with Chandler and Paisley.  In fact, in looking back at my blog posts from late 2014 and early 2015, I realize I ended the story with their birth.  Perhaps because that is where I wish the story ended...they were born and all lived happily ever after.  

But we know that isn't what happened.  And that can't be changed.

The rest of that story was and is too painful for me to write about.  It is also something I've held very close, and only shared with a very limited number of people.  Honestly, even today, the few recent times I've recounted parts of those short hours we had with our babies, I can't make it through without my voice quivering and tears falling.  Sure, I can talk about Chandler and Paisley now without crying, but I can't talk about those moments, those sacred, awful moments.  

What I will share is this.  There was a room in the NICU.  A room where we last held our babies alive.  A room where we handed our sweet babies to Jesus.  A room where I cried the most gut-wrenching cries I have ever cried and wished I was dead and not my babies.  The room where our Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep pictures were taken (because I couldn't stand the thought of them being taken in the hospital room downstairs where there was an enormous picture of a living, breathing baby on the wall).  A room I wished I would never see inside again.

And that very room was mere steps from Kanon and Remi's room.  Steps.  Literally.  A handful of steps.  Not only was it close, it was also on the way to Kanon and Remi's room. We walked by it every.single.day.  Multiple times a day.  Right by it.  Through the same doorway we carried Chandler and Paisley, down the same hallway, to that room.

Thank God we weren't in the inner-core of the NICU, or else I don't think I could have handled it.  Walking by that room was hard enough.

The first time I went to the NICU when Kanon and Remi were born was the second the nurse told me I could, at 4:44 am, I was able to go past it and not think too much of it. Oh, but the memories flooded me as we made our way to the NICU...The thoughts of Dust taking me up there when Chandler and Paisley were born overwhelmed me.  As we rode the elevator up, I started to shake, and couldn't quite tell if it was from the memories or anticipation of seeing Kanon and Remi.  Then, as we pushed the call button to be let in the NICU, my voice wavered and for a second, I began to say we were there for Chandler and Paisley.  

Then, once we were inside, how the memories flooded me.  Sitting in the wheelchair while my husband diligently scrubbed his hands the required 3 minutes.  As I sat there waiting for him to scrub, my heart hurt for him, and for my mom, and how they must have dealt with the exact same thing as they came up and visited Kanon and Remi around 9:30 that evening, and then again as my husband visited them around mid-night.  But, somehow, I was able to push those thoughts away as I was so anxious to see the babies.

However; the next two days were hard.  When we went up to visit later on during the day on Sunday, I literally felt the anxiety close in.  I felt myself having a hard time breathing as we walked past that room, as we were in the same place where Chandler and Paisley passed away.  I felt the PTSD symptoms begin, even while enjoying time with Kanon and Remi.  The nurse that day strictly followed the touch time rules, and it was much later in the day into her shift (I'm assuming once she realized how well the babies were doing) before she let us hold and do kangaroo care with them.  I think that caused part of my anxiety as well.  (Thankfully, we only had her 1 time and there rest of the nurses were amazing!)

On Monday, we went up to their room after first shift change and found out one of the nurses that had Chandler was Kanon and Remi's nurse for the day and we were so relieved.  I was still struggling, though.  My fear was definitely getting the best of me.  I was waking up every 3 hours during the night to pump and I would sit there, in the dark in the hospital room, hoping to not wake up Dust, and realize I was scared the phone would ring, or the doctor would come into the room and give us awful news.  But, that nurse, she knew.  She recognized that.  The minute we walked into the room, she liberated us.  She made us feel like Kanon and Remi were actually our babies.  She let us hold them nearly the entire day.  When I accidentally started to call Kanon by Chandler's name, she got it, she knew why I stuttered, why I said "Chan..." before I corrected myself.  She looked at me when I apologized, and told me it was ok, she told me that she was sure I had PTSD and it was ok!  Thank God for her!  I truly believe she took care of me that day as much as she took care of the babies.  

Slowly, those symptoms began to fade.  I was slowly able to enjoy Kanon and Remi without the constant fear of something being wrong with them, without being worried they weren't going to get to come home.  I know that sounds so silly to say, given their gestational age, but once having gone through what we did, it is so hard.  Being a NICU parent is hard, period.  

Again, I'm so thankful for the amazing nurses who were there and cared for us during such a tough, yet truly amazing, time.  


Monday, June 13, 2016

Supplements

DISCLAIMER:  I am not a doctor!  Please do your own research and do not rely on my post below.

Sorry for the disclaimer above, but ya'll know how it is!  

I took so many pills during my pregnancy.  I honestly HATE taking pills, but I knew if they helped, it was definitely worth it.  A friend of mine (who also lost twins and then subsequently had a successful twin pregnancy) shared her pregnancy supplement regimen with me and I pretty much followed it, with a few minor changes.  I will also say I ran this past my MFM and she fully supported everything I was taking.

Here are the things that sat on my ottoman for daily use:



So - my daily supplements included the following:
  • Vitamin D 1000 iu 2 times per day - studies have shown taking additional vitamin D during pregnancy can help reduce pregnancy risks, everything from gestation diabetes to infection risk
  • Prenatal vitamin - at the beginning of my pregnancy, I was taking the gummy prenatal, but then learned they didn't include iron, which I especially needed since I was making enough blood for two additional bodies!  My ob did give me the ok to use the gummy vitamins until about week 12 of my pregnancy, and then I switched to a pill that included iron.  I also made sure that my prenatal included DHA.  Something else to note related to the prenatal, I looked at how much it contained of each of the other supplements I was taking to ensure I didn't take too much of any one thing.
  • Probiotic - I wanted to do everything I could to prevent any sort of infection, and if you've read my blog, you may remember I battled a couple of sicknesses early in my pregnancy for which I took antibiotics.  I didn't want to develop a yeast infection, so I started taking a probiotic and continued it through my pregnancy.
  • Mirolax - ah...mirolax.  A friend of mine that was pregnant with triplets while I was pregnant joked with me that mirolax was her bff.  So true!  Let's be real here...constipation during pregnancy is scary!  In my mind, there is a reason they tell you to push like you are poo'ing while delivering, so, I wanted to avoid anything related to labor/delivering during my pregnancy.  I didn't take a full dose every single day, but more often than not, I was taking at least a half a dose daily, to keep things moving.  I could also really tell when I missed a dose...just saying.
  • Vitamin C - I took two gummy vitamin Cs daily toward the later part of my pregnancy.  This was important for two different reasons.  First, it helps iron (below) absorb, so once I started taking an iron supplement, I began this as well.  This has also been shown to reduce the risk of preeclampsia.  And, of course, the added benefit to my immune system was good too.
  • Iron 27mg Ferrous Gluconate type - As I mentioned above, I needed a prenatal that included iron.  However; beginning around week 22, I started getting charlie horses in my calves.  They were AWFUL!  I had them with Chandler and Paisley's pregnancy as well.  They would always hit in the middle of the night and I'd cry and Dust would have to jump up and rub them out.  I mentioned it to my ob, and he said that a lot of times, people think it is due to a lack of calcium, magnesium or potassium, however; low iron can also be a cause.  He recommended I take this specific type of iron because it is much gentler on the tummy.  After I started taking this, I saw a significant decrease in cramps.
  • Calcium 600mg - One thing to note on the calcium, if you are taking it and iron, take them at different times because the calcium will actually block the absorption of the iron when taken together (per my nurse through my insurance nurse line).  This helps with the babies' development.  I drank milk regularly, so I only took 600mg daily (in addition to the amount in the prenatal), although more is recommended in twin pregnancies.
  • Magnesium 250mg twice a day - This helps relax muscles, including the uterus, so in my mind, this helped prevent contractions.  This also helps keep stools soft.  I did learn to spread this out by taking one in the morning and one at night, otherwise, the body will get rid of the excess rather than absorb it and save it for later.
One thing not picture was the cranberry juice I began drinking daily after getting a UTI.

So, there you have it, my daily regimen throughout the majority of my pregnancy.  Again, like I mentioned, please do your own research before taking supplements during your pregnancy.  Also, please run it by your own doctor.  


Saturday, June 11, 2016

2 Months!

Here I am, an entire week late posting their 2 month update.  I can't do that going forward!

Sweet babies.  This past month has FLOWN by.  I would do anything to get time to slow down.  I absolutely cherish every single moment at home with you both.  Sure, some moments are stressful when you are both crying and need me (or a bottle, rather), but I wouldn't trade it for anything!




At 2 months, here is what is going on:

Remi:
  • You weighed 7 pounds 6 ounces at your 2 month appointment
  • You were 19 inches long
  • You are in the 25th percentile for weight, but 5th for height (clearly that comes from me, not your daddy)
  • You are taking 100 ml at each feeding
  • You are sleeping anywhere from 5.5 - 7.5 hours at night (love this!!)
  • You are in newborn size diapers and clothes
  • You have started taking reflux medicine and you LOVE it!  You do such a great job!
You have started focusing on us and making eye contact when we talk to you.  You still aren't smiling a ton, but that's ok!  

You are so serious and so independent!  You crack us up when we try to snuggle with you, as you grunt and wave your arms most of the time, clearly telling us you don't want that!  So those rare moments when you do want to snuggle, we eat it up (and worry you don't feel good).  

When we put you down at night, most of the time, you do excellent, but occasionally, we get to experience your "squawk" as your daddy and I call it. 

You had your two month vaccines and did really well.  You only cried for a very short period.  However; that night, you could tell you definitely did not feel the best.  I took all the snuggles I could get then!  

Kanon
  • You weighted 8 pounds 15.5 ounces at your 2 month appointment
  • You were 20 inches long
  • You are in the 50th percentile for weight and 25th for height
  • You are taking 110 ml at each feeding
  • You are sleeping anywhere from 5.5 - 7.5 hours at night, and in fact, we wonder how long you'd sleep if we didn't wake you after your sister finishes eating (most nights)
  • You are in newborn size diapers and clothes, although I don't think it will be long before you move up on clothes!
  • You absolutely love being in just your diaper.  You crack us up!  
You focus on us all the time.  You have started trying to talk to us and it is adorable!  When we talk to you, you move your mouth and I can tell you are trying so hard to make sounds, it is so sweet.  

You have the sweetest little snore right now.  It is adorable (and helps mom and dad when we bend down at night to listen to you and your sister).  

You also did so well getting your two month vaccines.  You felt a little better that night than Sissy did, but the next day, you slept a lot more than usual, and didn't eat as much as you typically do either.  

Kanon & Remington -

We just love you so much!  Grammie comes down once a week and absolutely adores spending time with you.  You both love her so much and instantly calm down when you see her if you are being fussy when she gets here.  She's already a pro at taking care of two babies at once!





You got to meet the amazing doctor that took care of the three of us while you were in me.  The very first thing he said when he saw Remington was how she looks just like her daddy!  And then went on to say it wasn't even fair because I carried you the whole time.  Haha!  I agree!  :)    




You also got to go visit your brother and sister's headstone over Memorial Day weekend.  Your daddy and I look forward to telling you all about them.  




We love you both so much and you make us so happy.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

"How lucky!"...


"Twins?"

"One of each?"

"How lucky!"

I can't even tell you how many times that conversation has happened with strangers while out with the babies.  And every single time, it feels like a punch in the gut and makes me cringe. 

First, luck has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we have these babies.  It was God and the care of the doctors.

Second, if we were so "lucky", then why are Chandler and Paisley in Heaven?

It honestly takes everything I have to not tell our story when people say how lucky we are.  I want to tell them what it took to bring these babies into the world, and how Chandler and Paisley are in Heaven, waiting on us to get there.  How we lost our first set of twins at 22 weeks.  How we prayed and prayed for our Itty and Bitty during their short NICU stay, and how those prayers weren't answered in the way we hoped for.  

I want to tell them of the injections and procedures it took to even have any chance at pregnancy.  I want to tell them of the $18,000 in medical bills last year alone (which doesn't even include the fresh cycle).  I want to tell them of all the friends that prayed and prayed for us.  I want to tell them of the miscarriage that came between Chandler and Paisley and Kanon and Remi.  I want to tell them of the agonizing decision we had to make of transferring our last two embryos and being so scared of getting pregnant with twins and losing them again.  

I want to tell them of the serious conversations that Dusty and I had while on vacation between frozen cycles, contemplating what life would be like without children and whether or not we could survive if our last frozen cycle didn't work and we made the decision not to do another fresh.  How we discussed what life would be like without children and if we could possibly survive that.  

I want to tell them of the weekly doctor visits, the trips to Kansas City to see the high risk doctor, the constant anxiety of my pregnancy.  Of how at every little thing, I was scared.  How for the first month of feeling kicks, I was too scared to even enjoy feeling the babies kick because I mistook contractions for kicks with Chandler and Paisley.  I can't even tell you when I first felt Kanon and Remi kick me because I was too fraught with anxiety to even enjoy the moment.  I want to tell them of going to the ER at 30 weeks and having a panic attack while there.  I want to tell them of the month of bedrest hoping to keep the babies in as long as possible.

And then I want to ask them how lucky we really are.  Do they still think we're lucky after hearing our story?  

But, of course, I can't do that.  Instead, I just give a half-hearted smile, and walk away, saying something like, we sure enjoy them, which is the truth, we enjoy them, but we are certainly not lucky.

We are, however; incredibly blessed to have these babies home with us.  This pregnancy could have gone a million different ways.  Their NICU stay could have been much different.  But, those things didn't happen, and in those ways, we are blessed.  God did show us that He is a good father (something I still struggle with).  We have Kanon and Remi here, thank God.

And luck has absolutely nothing to do with it.