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February
25
2018

Preparing for Ember and Josie's arrival

For most parents, having a baby admitted into the NICU is usually a shocking start to a difficult time. We were able to have a bit of an advantage in knowing what our babies will need, take a tour of the NICU, and talk to the doctors about our questions. We don't know the exact plan of care for them while they stay in the NICU, because all the doctors can do is wait to see how they do out in the world and then react to their needs, BUT we can prepare ourselves for the journey ahead.

This weekend we were blessed by our friends and family with a "NICU care package" with so many things we didn't even know we would need! These are some favorite things that make us really excited for their arrival! 

Beautiful blankets to to cover the isoletts in-

We know that we won't be able to hold them right away, and maybe not even for weeks. They'll be taken straight to the NICU and the doctors will make sure they do all they can to keep them alive before they learn how to on their own. This means trying to simulate their time in the womb by putting them in each in an incubator that will keep them warm and help keep their oxygen levels up. Preemie babies are easily overstimulated and stressed, so to have these blankets covering their isolettes to keep their space warm and cozy is very comforting!

Preemie clothes-

The girls will have tubes and wires all over their tiny bodies while they are in the NICU. Some will be life sustaining, like an IV or feeding tube, and some will just be for monitoring, like a pulse oxomiter. These are NICU friendly clothes that can work around the machines. It feels good to know they can have some normalcy in something as simple as clothes, even when they are as little as 3 pounds.

Pumping care package-

We want to breastfeed, but it will take some time before they are strong enough to eat without burning more calories then they are receiving. So our alternative is to be pumping lots of milk (for twins!) in a stressful environment, and give it to them through feeding tubes. It feels like a much less overwhelming task now!

Small comforts for us-

The NICU Stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (yes, I had to ask several times before I could remember.) Emphasis on the intensive care, it is not very much like a nursery. They have strict rules for how many can be there, when, and what you can do inside. You have to "scrub in", taking off all your jewelry and sanitizing your hands several times before going through a second set of doors, and keep your voice low so as not to stress the babies. It is very secluded from the main hall, but there is no privacy inside, as they try to accomadate as many as possible.

Since we will be spending most of our time here over the next couple months, it was so thoughtful to include things that will make the time a little more bearable. We can be excited, and not just scared for this precious time we get to spend with our strong babies the first few days of their lives before we get to take them home.

We know it's exciting that the twins are coming early, but it might be very difficult to see them until they are safe at home. Once the girls are more stable and we know how to maneuver around their care better, we will try to update everyone on the best ways to visit if they want to! You can still be involved with their NICU life in between visits though:
Kids (and everyone else too) can decorate cards, print pictures, or write notes and verses. We can decorate their isolets with them and then take everything for their keepsake boxes when they come home (they also help to gently stimulate their senses!) 
You can also write letters or send books that we can read to them. They don't even have to be baby books, anything that lets them hear our voices will be comforting!

Thank you again to everyone who helped with the NICU care package, it's such a blessing in a difficult time. And as always thank you for praying for our babies! 

-Christian and Tristen

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February
24
2018

How many parents does it take in the hospital?

A strange phenomenon- when staying for a long time in the hospital, you start to feel a part of it. People come and go as they please and give you instructions medications you've never heard of. No question is off limits, no body part, no amount of body fluids, no hour of the night. You don't get comfortable, but you start to feel like you belong to the hospital. 

But immensely more strange then that is how you suddenly don't feel like the only parent of your children. When you have teams of people who's only job is to keep those precious babies as safe as possible, it's almost like co-parenting with a bunch of strangers.

The doctors are the over protective parents:

"Are you feeling any pain? No? Well that's good. Almost too good. We'll run some more tests just in case."
"It's a little cloudy today so don't forget to take some vitamin D."
"They aren't in trouble. Your doctors and I are just concerned." 

The ultrasound techs are the enthusiastic parents you always seem to disappoint-

"They technically passed but let's see them do it again because they can do better."
"You're not leaving this room until you practice your breathing."
"C'mon kick, I need to see movement. Good, now stop kicking, I can't measure your umbilical arteries."

The nurses are all of us when we haven't slept in three days-

"I'll stop if you sit still for just five minutes."
"I know I always looked down on nurses who do this, but that was before I met these twins."
"Ok that's kind of cute, but can you stop please, that's not what I need."

And ironically, I've found that God has allowed me to be the most calm out of all of them. With so much going on, there is usually some kind of discrepancy for someone to find, something to worry about every day. But I know they are not just in the doctor's hands, or my hands, but in His hands.
He has taught me not to be anxious when things do not go as expected, because they are going according to His plan.
I don't have to worry when the tests aren't perfect, because God asked me to love the babies even when they aren't my idea of perfect.
I can silently laugh at the nurses chasing their wobbly heart beats, because I know one day the hospital will be a memory as Christian and I chase them on their wobbly legs.

And for now, I can still have my proud mama moments for every look of surprise on the doctor's faces-

"I didn't think these levels would come back up..."
"I've rarely seen a baby get through that..."
"These girls are strong."

I know. They are God's children. And He is giving them everything they need.

If you've been praying for us, thank you, know that your prayers are being answered, every day miraculously, even if you can't see how in all of the small ways. If you want to ask if the babies are good, know that they are; not by the doctors standards or our standards (after all, they are in the hospital) but because God knows how to take care of them, and He is.

-Tristen

February
20
2018

Recommendations

we are looking for a pediatrician this week, and if anyone has any recommendations please let us know because this is totally uncharted territory for us! We were hoping to see someone on the west side and prefereably someone who has experience with preterm babies as they will have to go back for lots of checkups in their first year.

February
20
2018

Scheduled due date

The doctors have officially scheduled a C-section for February 26th at 10:00am. This will mark 32 weeks which is a huge accomplishment, we did not think they would be doing so well for so long. Thirty two weeks will be the cut off because Josie's diastolic flow has showed signs of not just stopping, but reversing. She hasn't been affected by it so far, which is a miracle, but the doctors don't expect that to be the case for too long. They are recording her well being every day just in case.

We are aiming for 32 weeks because most babies are fairly stable and developed enough to eat, breathe, and stay warm on their own after a few days. This might be the case with Ember and Josie, but it also might be much harder for them since they are not only preterm but very small for their age. We won't know exactly how they will do until they are actually here, but regardless they will probably be taken to the NICU immediately and stay there for several weeks before we can take them home.