Thursday, January 26, 2012

Let me take you through the past 28 days...

Here we are on Christmas, just a few days before the girls arrival...would anyone care to imagine how massive my belly would have been had I gone 40 weeks? Eeek :)

After the anxiety of going through the actual c-section, I'd say I was pretty relaxed and we were so ready to meet the babes. You know you have a great anesthesiologist when he offers to take a picture during the procedure :)

Eden Kelley Hoerl...2 pounds 11 ounces. Our first look before she was whisked away to the NICU. Yes, that's Saran Wrap underneath her hat covering her head, to keep her nice and toasty!

Henley Palmer Hoerl 3 pounds 2 ounces...32 weeks of waiting and it was worth every second to see these gorgeous faces

After the girls were born, I was moved into a recovery room and Jordan came with me for the first hour to give the doctors some time to get the girls cleaned up and assess their needs. Jordan and our parents were able to go see the girls within the first few hours, and would periodically bring me pictures so I could see them for more than the brief minute that I had seen them at delivery. I was so anxious to see them and kept asking the nurses when I'd be able to go up. About 6 hours later, I finally was able to get out of bed (which is a whole other story...your first time standing up after a c-section is NOT pleasant...) and go see my baby girls. I was so excited and anxious...I didn't really know how I'd react or how I'd feel, it's definitely a different experience to really see and touch your baby(or babies) for the first time 6 hours after you have them.

Seeing Henley first, crying tears of happiness to officially meet my sweet girls. Such an overwhelming feeling of love for them.

After a few minutes the nurse asked if I wanted to hold Henley, and I wish I could have recorded the look on my face. I honestly didn't have many expectations going into their birth as far as being able to hold them or touch them at all. We had no clue what type of state they'd be in physically, being so early and having complications during pregnancy. Miraculously, each girl only needed CPAP (a breathing device that delivers constant air pressure into a baby's nose) for a few hours that first day. There was no doubt that it was the Lord that allowed them to start breathing on their own in room air within 24 hours. Amazing.

Jordan's first time holding Henley. Before we had the girls, we were told that it was very unlikely they would be placed in the same nursery, for a few different reasons, but right away the girls were put together. Another huge blessing, and it definitely made it easier on us!

Our precious little Eden, the same day after they took her off of CPAP. Even with the many wires, monitors, feeding tubes, tape, etc etc etc, my girl could not look more beautiful at this moment.

The girls spent almost 2 weeks in "Nursery #4", one of the more intensive nurseries with babies that have more severe health issues or ones that are very premature. These were some of the hardest days that Jordan and I have ever been through. Day after day walking into the nursery so happy to see our babies, but not knowing what to expect. Looking back and hearing some of the stories from other parents who have been through some crazy things, we are so blessed, and the "little hiccups" that the girls went through could have been so much worse. Thank you Lord for your continued protection. I don't think I fully knew what to expect going into the "Nicu life", and I don't think you can fully understand it unless you've gone through it. It definitely is much more difficult than I had ever anticipated. Like I said, our girls (thank God) have had a fairly stable path so far, but the emotional toll that it takes on you is at times unbearable. You are torn between two things: You want to be there 24/7 and you don't want to be there at all. You want to be there all the time even if all you can do is sit in a stool and stare at your baby and watch them breathe. You struggle with walking through the doors every day because it's so hard to see your baby so small, frail and behaving differently than you'd see a full term baby behave. Every day you ask yourself, "did they lose weight?" "did they tolerate their feeds?" "did the doctors find anything wrong?" "are they really being taken good care of?" Needless to say its hard to get any rest when these things are constantly lingering in your mind.

For any parent with their child in the NICU, if they don't have the Lord and His grace and strength to see them through, I can honestly say I don't know how they do it.

Despite the tough questions, thoughts and situations, there are some happy times too, and trying to get to know our new girls has been such a joy, despite the conditions. (Happy times also include a sister who made a surprise visit from Oregon to see her nieces and take some gorgeous pictures:))

(Mommy and Eden)

The first time our girls had been together since they were snuggled up in the womb. They loved every second!!

Beauty queen Henley already showing off her personality

Eden modeling one of the many gorgeous hats that Jordan's mom made for them so they will at least look cute during their stay at the NICU;). So cute!!

Snuggle time with Henley

Eden's first bath, she LOVED it!

"Chubby" Henley gaining weight day after day. Toppin the charts at a little over 4 and a half pounds! Keep it goin girl :)

The girls are doing so well and Jordan and I are so grateful for all of the prayers that have been said on their behalf. I can't wait to sit down with them one day when they are older and tell them just how many people cared about them and took the time to pray for their health and safety. We are so appreciative. We have received so much support that has been so helpful, whether it's a meal or a night at the hotel across the street or a phone call or text message, we can't thank you enough. The support of our family and friends has made it easier to get through this time, and we are so thankful!

At this point we still aren't sure when the girls will be home. In some ways this past month has seemed to fly by, and each day has seemed to blur into one big experience. In other ways it seems like it's been an eternity and it blows my mind that someday soon we will be able to have our girls right here at home with us. I could be sitting here typing while one is crying because she's hungry and the other is crying because she needs her diaper changed...and let me tell ya...I am so looking forward to that day.

A lot of people have asked what I do all day at the NICU....this is what my typical day looks like:

Get there in the morning, attempt to feed Henley, spend some time cuddling with her, put her back, attempt to feed Eden, cuddle with her, put her back, and then it's about time to do the whole thing over again. I don't have to be there all day, but I think anyone in this situation would choose to be. If you can't have your babies at home, you'll find a way to be involved in any little thing that you can, even if it means taking their temperature or washing their face. These little things that we so often take for granted are ways that NICU parents can feel like they are actually being parents. And these are priceless moments to me right now. I definitely feel like I have been in isolation for a month, trying to sneak in a quick text between feedings or a short phone call while one of them is sleeping, and I just want to say how grateful I am that people are so understanding. I'm sorry if I don't always get back to you, it's not because I don't care, and please trust that the minute these babies come home I will be much more reachable than I am now:)

A few things you can be praying for as we continue this hopefully short-lived journey....

1.That the girls would start taking every feed orally (they have to do this for a full 24 hours before they will be considered able to go home) instead of through their feeding tubes

2.Once this happens, that each baby would be able to maintain their own body temperature. Right now they are in the lowest setting of heat in their isolette, and as soon as they can take their feeds orally, they will turn this off and see how they manage their own body temperature.

3. Both girls are anemic, which is fairly common for preemies, but something that has to be monitored. Eden is doing ok, but Henley's levels have been dropping and they are re-checking them on Monday. If she doesn't improve, they will consider doing a blood transfusion. While I know that they do this all the time, it still makes me nervous to put someone else's blood into my baby girl's little vulnerable body. Please pray that it doesnt get to this point and that her body is able to recover without this intervention.

As soon as the girls can eat all of their feeds orally and maintain their body temperature, they can come home!!! It seems like such a simple thing to ask, but for a preemie, it takes a lot of energy and coordination, things that they aren't supposed to be even attempting right now, as they should still technically be in my belly. However, they are amazing and smart and they will get it. We just hope and pray it's a little sooner rather than later :) More to come..

Friday, January 6, 2012

One week old today!

Happy one week birthday Henley and Eden! You have been such incredible blessings in our lives and we are so grateful to the Lord for your lives and for giving us such an amazing week with you! You are and continue to be testimonies of God's great faithfulness and mercy. Your mommy and daddy love you SO MUCH!! (and a lot of other people do too:)

To everyone that has prayed, called, texted, brought a meal, given a hug, been a shoulder to cry on, sent flowers or gift baskets, or have given us support in some way, THANK YOU. you have no idea what a blessying you have been to Jordan and I and how you have helped to make this time with our girls so much more comforting. We love you and pray that the Lord blesses you tremendously for your generosity and love.

A little update on the girls....
After a few rough days of questions, discouragements and a lot of worry, the girls are slowly but surely making progress. Both are learning to tolerate their food better and use their digestive systems, both are working on gaining weight, and both are breathing completely on their own. These things are all happening purely because of the Lord's protection over them. Both girls had brain scans to check the structure of their brains and came back with NO bleeding in the brain or calcifications. Praise God! The scan does not tell us anything about their brains developmentally, but this is still amazing news and we are trusting the Lord that He will bring them through with their daddy's intelligence! :)

Right now we are continuing to ask for prayer that they keep eating and digesting well, as this will allow them to get their IV's out (called PICC lines, they are central IV's placed just outside of the heart) and put them at less risk for infection and also one step closer to bringing our girls home!

Will keep you updated as we can....thank you again.