Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pump up the jam, baby!

So it finally happened. Sometime last night they ran out of my breastmilk to feed Hailey, and had to give her her first dose of formula. She didn't like it.

Neither did momma, who thought there was plenty in the freezer at CHEO as a backup, but apparently they had been going through it like an undisciplined, unsupervised child opening gifts on Christmas morning.

I was upset.

Crazy to be upset about this, I know, since the nurses infirm me it's almost unheard of that no supplements have been needed so far with twins in different places, but still...I was annoyed. And frankly? I've kinda had enough of the pumping. It's uncomfortable - borderline painful sometimes, and you feel like a cow hooked up to a Beatrice milking machine. Hell, if I WERE a cow, at least I could go to the washroom while being pumped!

But... We are in the homestretch now. Hailey is doing great, and is either being fed a bottle with MOSTLY breastmilk overnight by the nurses and is exclusively on my breast during the day. We are really close to blowing this Popsicle stand...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

When gas leaks are good things

Or, alternately, what I didn't know about c-sections going into the surgery.

Last night, while feeding little Alex (because really, if I'm not feeding her, I'm pumping or trying to sleep), we finally connected our video camera to the big screen tv in my Dad's man-cave to view the footage taken of the delivery. Wow. Powerful stuff...and surreal too. Something we'll keep within the family, likely, but it also called to mind the first 72 or so hours after the delivery (or shall we just call a spade a spade and say surgery?)

You see, no one told me that abdominal surgery can often be accompanied by intense gastro-intestinal distress. No one said "you will have trouble with gas and be unable to poop, causing potentially mind-alteringly alarmingly painful cramps, so horridly powerful that they spread up your back, through your entire torso and even up to your shoulders where, ultimately, you won't be able to even lift your arms for the shooting pain."

Yeah... No one told me about that.

Flashback to 1992. I was playing varsity waterpolo at Carleton University. What does this have to do with that? Well...I was notorious for gulping water and air during games, and then, after a night on the town with teammates drinking gas-inducing beer, holding onto my farts, causing intense gas-pains so bad that by night's end, I would curl up in a fetal ball on my bed and cry, waiting for the air to move through my system and come out the appropriate end.

So. It stands to reason that, Uh, the after-delivery experience for me was characterized not only by issues learning to breastfeeding, stress worrying about a sick baby in CHEO, but also an indescribable pain from built-up gas emissions that only started to clear out a bit the day of my discharge from the hospital. Not fun, my friends, not fun.

Still, worth it, of course, but I don't think I will look back on the first few days as an amazing time. Just necessary to get to the real fun.

You will be happy to know that mommy is now filling the atmosphere without hesitation with gaseous outputs. All is good.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My daughter: My hero

This post was supposed to go up yesterday, the one week anniversary of baby Hailey’s surgery. As per the norm these days, I couldn’t get to it, and likely won’t finish writing this in the time I have allowed for it today either, as I have to run shortly to take baby Alexandra to her 2 week doctor’s appointment.

As I sit here in the ‘pod’ at CHEO, I can hear the not-so-coarse anymore cries of my little Hailey, who as of this morning is off oxygen and breathing room air for the first time since her birth. She is still being fed by a tube, but Mother’s milk at a higher and higher dosage every day. I found out today that it will be another 5 days or so of increasing this continuous feeding method before they will be looking at starting regular feedings (i.e. larger amounts all at once).

Alexandra is here in her bassinette stroller, sleeping, but increasingly restless – it will be again time for more boobage shortly, and so maybe this blog won’t be as detailed as I would like, and frankly, I want to hold my little girl one more time before I have to skip out.

So as this title says, my daughter is my hero. There is no other way to describe the fight she has in her, and her tolerance of all she has been through. The photos will show it all. What started as an initial cry and big deep breath at birth (great for Mom and Dad to hear, but VERY bad for Hailey and the nurses who then had to decompress the lungs and remove the air from her stomach and bowels) has progressed past a number of days of stabilization, surgery five days after birth on Monday, November 8, an initial feeding trial only two days after surgery (which was regurgitated several hours later), then continuous small feedings that Friday which have progressed from 1ml/hr at that point to now 5ml/hr with another 1ml/hr added every 12 hour period. Her ventilation tube was removed on Saturday, her medications were completely weaned down on Sunday, and all signs are very, very good.

Here are some shots before her surgery. The first was shot by Art in the OR right after she was intubated.

This shot is the first time Mommy got to see or touch her little hero. She was only there for what seemed like a moment, then carted off to CHEO. Daddy went with her. It was excruciating, but necessary.

Then came the first 72 hours after Mom's surgery.  Trying to nurse. Trying to recover. Trying to make my way over somehow to CHEO without being allowed to bring big sister Alex.  And the little I did get there, this is what I saw...a damn cute little helpless, but tough baby girl, with tubes coming out of what seemed like every area on her tiny body.  Hard to look at, and yet we knew this was what was necessary to save her.  To stabilize her for just long enough to get ready for a crazy 'work over' to come.  We didn't know how long she would need to be in this state, drugged and intubated, and waiting, but in the end it was only 5 days.  A small amount of time, a lifetime...

Then, surgery day.  What can I say about surgery day, November 8?  Hell on earth? We won't get into the emotional roller coaster, but here, in a nutshell, is the overview of what 'technically' happened.

The Surgery

The surgery was scheduled for 11 am on November 8, just 5 days (albeit long days) after Hailey’s birth. She had been stable almost continuously and so everything was looking great in terms of her readiness for what was to be a major reworking of her organs. We hadn’t met until then with the surgeon, and so it was literally right before her surgery that we met with our exceptional surgeon. We were shocked to see that he was younger than we were. Very soft-spoken, and when we asked for him to draw out a diagram of what the situation was and what he was going to be doing, he obliged. One day I will scan that image and put up a post about it, but in the meantime, we have something even more incredible…an x-ray of the before and after.

In the before shot (above) you will see that essentially all the bowels, stomach, intestines, and even the spleen and part of her liver are all stuffed up in her left lung cavity (the black masses). The left lung, inside the cavity, is collapsed in behind all the other organs, and her heart, which is supposed to be kinda in the middle of her chest cavity, has been squished over to the right, displaced.

And here is the after shot. All her organs have been moved down and into place, and if you see the left lung cavity, you can see the faint outline of her left lung, partially expanded. Eventually her lung will fill this cavity as it grows and gets stronger, and the heart has already started to migrate over to its proper position.
One of the biggest concerns of the surgery was the discovery of how large the hernia/hole actually was, and whether or not there would be enough surrounding muscle tissue to close up the hole without introducing artificial prostheses. If they were able to patch the hole without the artificial patch, her likelihood of re-herniation and complications would be greatly limited. Turns out, although the hole was considered quite large, there was enough tissue there to patch it together, and so the prognosis was excellent. From there, the next question was going to be “Are all the organs fully developed and functioning as they should be?” Time would tell on that front.

Oh, and I should mention that while meeting with the surgeon, I did ask him directly if he had had a good sleep and confirmed that he had not gone out for drinks with his buds the night before. Although asked in a joking manner, I was dead serious. We all have bad days at work, right? The nurse afterward was flabbergasted that I actually came out and asked that question.

So here we are, 10 days after her surgery, and she is up to 9 ml/hr of Mommy’s breast milk. She is also being held by Mom, Dad and even Grandma and Grandpa these days, and as of this morning, I have been told I am allowed to put her to my breast to help her learn to breastfeed. I can’t say what this means to me, as I was so nervous that she would learn to feed through a bottle first and not know how to latch. I can’t wait.

So I guess that means I want to wrap this up. I have some feeding to do – both of Alex and of Hailey. Will try get another blog post done shortly, but given this took 4 days to finish (and I still have to format and upload pix), we’ll see.

Here are some more shots of Hailey at various stages after the surgery.

And then the ventilation tube came out, and stuff slowly got removed from her body.  Starting with the ventilation tube!

What a fighter. What a survivor.
My daughter: my hero.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So...yeah...announcing the arrival of our baby girls!

Exactly one week later, I'd like to finally announce the arrival of baby Alexandra Patricia, 7 pounds, 6 ounces, born on November 3rd at 11:38 a.m., and her little twin sister Hailey Elizabeth, 5 pounds, 12 ounces, born at 11:39.

I'm sitting here as I write this at the side of little Hailey, in the yellow 'pod' in the NICU at CHEO, after a week that is almost indescribable, but that ultimately will be the most momentous of my life. Followed closely by each successive week to come, I'm sure. Already today, only two days after her surgery, I just had the heart-bursting privilege of feeding my lovely survivour her first taste of Mommy's milk. Although through a syringe and into her tummy through a tube, it finally felt like a contribution to her life outside the womb that no one else could offer. Love in liquid form. Overwhelming.

So. Yes. Let's be honest here. I'm in love with two different ladies and a man and have been trying desperately to manage all these relationships while still retaining some physical and emotional sanity. I have plenty of love to go around, but not enough physicality or time on the clock. Every day has been a day of firsts. Each crazy event is a blog post just waiting to happen, and each minute is another where I have been saying...oh gosh...I gotta remember this; it'll be a great story. But I have to find time. At this moment, I finally have a full afternoon to spend here at CHEO, and every second that I write this post is a second I lose from reading Hailey a story or holding her hand. Baby Alex is in the family lounge with Grandma and Grandpa, waiting sleepily for more boobage, and after that, Mommy will have to pump for more milk for Hailey before she can go back to 'hang' with Hailey again. Still haven't figured out how to nap. When Alex naps and still get some time with Hailey, but hoping to get a slower pace going now.

Wish me luck, andknow that I have a mountain of posts to come, and one day will find my way to a damn computer to get off this iPhone and get some writing done.

But let's just leave it at this. Life is a wondrous, magnificent, heart-wrenching and bursting journey. We are all blessed, and if we have love and health, we ought never to be unhappy.

And, it seems, on this iPhone, I can't go over this post to edit. Hope the typos aren't too bad... Will fix later

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A poem of love and welcome

Tumbling, squirming
punching, kicking
you grew from nothing
but the love and desire
of two who want you
love you
more than you will ever know

Inside, you two together
make me laugh
worry, pee and smile
so safe and cozy
but life isn't and so
you must join us, tomorrow
where we'll be here for you every day thereafter

You may not know it
but you are the core
of all that we are
and all that is beautiful
in life
worth any and all
heartbreak, fear, sacrifice, risk

Convinced of  your strength
and with our conviction
that you will fight
for every breath
for life
an army of love
is behind you both

Welcome, my twins
meeting you both
will be powerful
the biggest event ever to take place
in our lives, and the start
of your amazing journeys