Good News and Bad – A Long Overdue Update

I’m sorry to everyone for not updating this blog regularly, but just haven’t found the time or energy. As most of you know, Jennifer had some serious complications with the pregnancy. On June 30, she started bleeding. We went to the hospital, and she was held overnight. She got sent home with a prescription for an iron supplement and bed rest. Late on July 3rd, she started leaking fluid. I took her to the hospital, and she was admitted on July 4th. An ultrasound the following day showed that all four babies had low fluid levels in their amniotic sacs. On Saturday, July 8th, another ultrasound showed no fluid around Christopher at all, confirming that there had been premature rupture of membrane (PROM). Jennifer continued to have bleeding on and off all through July, but we really thought that things were getting better.

Last week, our doctor told us that at P. Hosptial, 23 weeks is considered a viable pregnancy, and he gave Jennifer an injection of steroids on Thursday and Friday which would help the babies’ lungs develop faster if they were born within the next week. On Saturday, Jennifer started having contractions. They have her an IV, and they seemed to go away. They reappeared on Sunday alone with a bladder infection, but were sporadic and infrequent. By Monday morning, they were regular and coming every few minutes. Jennifer’s belly was also tender and painful to the touch, so the doctors diagnosed an infection around the babies which they can’t treat in utero. This is one of the things the amniotic sac protects the babies against, but with Christopher’s ruptured, they think he got an infection, which could also progress to Alexander and Emily once it got established.

All three babies were born alive on July 31st at exactly 24 weeks and delivered via emergency C-section. Christopher, Emily, and Alexander were born at 11:08 AM, 11:09 AM, and 11:10 AM respectively, weighing in at around one pound each.

Christopher was our first born, but he was badly squished from the lack of fluid combined with the weight of Alexander and Emily on top of him. The doctors tried to insert a breathing tube, but his lungs were too small for even ther smallest tube. We did get to hold him his last few minutes. As you know, babies at 24 weeks haven’t opened their eyes yet, but Christopher had both eyes open, and we know from the ultrasound that he had lenses in each eye. We like to think that he at least got a glimpse of mom and dad before he passed on. We were able to get a priest to do what the Catholic Church calls a ‘conditional baptism’ on him, which essentially means that even though there wasn’t any sign of life by the time the priest arrive, we acknowledge that God’s conception of life does not necessarily correspond to ours, and that in baptising him we are giving him to God. I was thinking about Mark10:13-16 while this was happening, and the though of Jesus blessing the children gave us great comfort. We also thanked him for being so strong and brave and holding on for four weeks to give his brother and sister a fighting chance. We will tell them all about their brave older brother when they get older.

Alexander and Emily are, according to the doctors, ‘pink and lively’. According to the nurses, this means that Alexander kicked the doctors after the got oxygen in him and them peed all over them. As they were being wheeled out, I saw Emily struggling with the doctor; apparently she didn’t like her breathing tube and was trying to pull it out already. Alexander has been doing excellent since they brought him out. He looks nice and pink and all of his vitals have been stable since birth. Last night they moved him into an incubator. (He was under a Saran-Wrap blanket to keep him from drying out while they were working on him.) He grabs our fingers in his little hands when offered, and gives the nurses trouble because he kicks them whenever they need to change his fluids or take samples. Other than that, they say that he’s a good boy and doing well.

Emily had some trouble the first night. Here lungs don’t appear to be as mature as Alex’s are. Her blood oxygen levels were too low, so they tried a puffer, which gives her 360 breathes per minute. She’s trying to breathe on her own, but this was interfering with the ventilator so they had to sedate her. (The doctors say they almost never have to sedate 24-weekers.) She started doing better, but around 3 AM on August 1at, a doctor told us that her breathing and heart rate had crashed and she didn’t think Emily would survive, but that they weren’t going to give up yet. They added NO gas to her mixture, and two hours later, she had good oxygen levels in her blood. Her heart rate was a little high, but every time we see her she looks a little better. Right now she’s on a 30-40% oxygen mixture and is looking much pinker. She had some problems with her lower legs, which looked like there wasn’t good gas exchange, but they’ve gone from purple to dark red to red to almost pink now. Her heart rate has also come down. Yesterday, they struggled with her blood pressure, but gave her some dopamine and have been gradually weaning her off so they can give her some morphine to lower her heart rate a little. The good news is that she has been stable for the past day or so.

The doctor says that both of them have plenty of fight in them and that they are very vigorous, almost too vigorous! Alex and Emily are in good hands. The NICU currently has six preemies which were born at 23 weeks and are doing well. They’ve each got a nurse hovering over them almost 24 hours a day, who is constantly monitoring their vitals and making adjustments in their treatment regimen. The doctors all seem to be optimistic and stubborn individuals with a can-do attitude that aren’t going to give up on a baby just because things look really bad.

Jennifer will be discharged from the hospital on Friday. I’m going to meet with a funeral home recommended by the pastoral associate at our church today. We are planning to have Christopher’s remains cremated until we make a final decision on whether to have a funeral service and where to lay him to rest. This makes the most sense for us since neither of us have family which lives in the immediate area.

Alex and Emily have been peeing and pooping, so things seem to be working there. Making messes already! Alex’s favorite pass-times include; grabbing Mommy and Daddy by the finger, kicking the nurses, and sleeping. Emily’s favorite pass-times include; grabbing Mommy and Daddy by the finger, grabbing and pulling ANYTHING with her right hand, and fighting with Daddy and the nurses who keep trying to cover her with her space blanket. (Jennifer’s Dad says he understands how she feels – The last time he slept in Saran-Wrap it wasn’t comfortable for him, either!)