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Archive for the ‘triplets?’ Category

GYN Appointment
I had an OB/GYN appointment on Wednesday back with my regular doctor (no more perinatologist for me!). It was the first time I’ve seen him since a few days before I delivered when he came to visit me in the hospital, so it was good to see him, though I could have done without the exam! I was surprised at how many of my old feelings were still with me sitting in the waiting room amongst all the pregnant women there. You’d think having been through a pregnancy (one that lasted, even) and having three babies to show for it, that I wouldn’t still feel like a completely inadequate in a roomful of pregnant women. But I was never one of those women…I never had the luxury of taking my pregnancy for granted. I didn’t get to ever assume everything was fine because I had a pregnancy that was nearly guaranteed to result in a premature delivery and one in which things seemed to be going wrong every week (and I didn’t have as bad a time as I could have). Anyway, I don’t mind pregnant women…some of my best friends are pregnant women..I just find it overwhelming to be around that many at once.

The doctor asked whether my husband and I were doing anything about birth control. I missed my opportunity to answer with, “Well abstinence is the preferred method of Congress…” because I burst out laughing. Instead of lecturing me about the fact that there are lots of women who end up with an “oops baby” after years of fertility treatment, he just asked whether I’d be depressed if I ended up surprised by a pregnancy. After I stopped laughing, I told him I would die of shock because it would be the immaculate conception, but that we’d be thrilled to pieces. That satisfied him, so he was okay with me not doing anything to prevent it. I was actually a little surprised not to get a lecture about not wanting to be pregnant so soon after a triplet pregnancy and c-section (I got that lecture from the perinatologist while I was pregnant), but I’m cool with that. I’m very certain I’m not going to find myself surprised with a pregnancy anytime soon, or, like, ever.

I told him I was still bitter about the c-section and he said, “what do you mean?” He was shocked that I’d ever thought I could have a vaginal triplet delivery, and was surprised to learn that two of the perinatologists in the practice I went to have done (and were willing to do) vaginal triplet deliveries. I always knew that the odds were against me avoiding the c-section, but had Abby not been so little, they would have let me try it. Anyway, I told him that I’m all ready for my VBAC because I’m definitely going for a normal singleton pregnancy some day, darnit! I told him that HE was going to deliver my next baby because it was going to be JUST ONE. I’m not sure that I really have that much confidence that I’ll manage to get pregnant again, but I’m certainly going to try (while praying that the Big Guy Upstairs doesn’t have a sick enough sense of humor to send me quadruplets next time).

Pediatrician
I took Ellie to the pediatrician on Friday for a weight check. Well, I mean, all three babies went, but only Ellie got weighed and seen. I’ve known our pediatrician for about ten years (we used to attend the same synagogue, long before I had any kids), and I adore him. There are several other doctors in the practice, but I’ve made nearly all of our appointments with him because of Ellie’s weight issues. I prefer seeing him because he’s got a better appreciation of the trends we’ve been seeing with Ellie’s progress (or lack thereof) and because I just like him in general. One time when I saw another doctor for one of Ellie’s weight checks, she sort of shrugged me off as if I was overreacting. I admit that I was beginning to wonder if perhaps I was overreacting to Ellie’s lack of weight gain – she’s just so little compared to Abby and Sam. But she remains an enigma. She was 7 pounds, 7 ounces this week… which was only a 7 ounce gain in 17 days. Not terrible, but not quite what we would have liked to have seen, either. Even Dr. B said it would just be nice if she would go one way or another… slightly less gain and we would have known we needed to explore options, or slightly more and we’d know there was no problem whatsoever. She consistently gains less than he’d like to see her doing, but not so much so that it points to an obvious problem. He, like me, is somewhat worried, but not inclined to intervene too much at this point. She’s not showing any other signs of reflux (she rarely spits up, she’s not fussy when she goes on her all-too-frequent hunger strikes, she doesn’t quit in the middle of feedings, she doesn’t seem uncomfortable during or after feedings…), so trying reflux medication probably wouldn’t do anything other than giving us one more thing to have to keep track of on a daily basis. He doesn’t want to torture her with a huge blood draw for a metabolic screen, but he did do a small blood draw to check her thyroid hormone (T4, TSH), so we’ll see if that illuminates us at all.

The triplets are scheduled to return for their four month visit in two weeks, and he said we’ll just keep an eye on her until then and if I feel that things are taking a turn for the worse in the interim, I’m more than welcome to bring her in for another weight check. I doubt that I’ll feel the need, but you never know. It’s nice to know that they don’t think I’m just an overreacting new mom, but I do wish she would just gain a little more weight a little faster so we could stop worrying all together. Poor baby. The doc WAS impressed that Ellie is pretty consistently sucking her thumb. Thumb sucking is apparently a developmental milestone you expect of a full term baby at 3 or 4 months, so she’s about 2 months ahead of schedule. Go Ellie! Anywho, we’re back to our wait-and-see strategy with her, and that’s fine. I just wish she didn’t have hunger strikes!

Your Questions Answered
Allie posted this question in a comment recently:

Is it really going to be cost effective to pay for childcare for 3 kids?? I hear that childcare for 1 is bad enougth…but I can’t imagine paying for childcare for 3 newborns!!!! Won’t you just be working to pay for childcare costs??

I get this question (or similar questions) a lot and I don’t really understand it. No one knows how much I make or how much we’ll be paying a nanny, so why do people assume that it’s not cost effective? And why does no one ask my husband whether it’s cost effective for him to work?? We make the same amount of money! The truth is, it IS cost effective, not only in the short run, but definitely in the long run. I make more money than we’ll be paying the nanny. Does that mean we can afford a nanny? No. We still have more bills than we know what to do with. But we can’t pay much more than the mortgage and a few utilities with my husband’s salary alone and we’ve eaten through what little reserves we had with me out of work for the last seven months (bed rest for three months and almost four months since… time flies when you’re sleep deprived). Anyway, in the short run, yes, it is cost effective for me to work. It would not be if I made less money.

More importantly, however, it is cost effective in the long run. If I were to pull myself out of the job market until the kids went to kindergarten or 1st grade, I would no longer be marketable in my field because the standards and technology are changing too rapidly for me to keep up on my own. So even if we were losing money on a nanny at this point, it would be worth it in the long run because there is no other field that I’m qualified for in which I could maintain my current salary years down the road.

And while it’s true that I have little desire to return to work, I find it odd that no one seems to consider the possibility that maybe I like what I do. (I do like what I do, though I’d gladly give it up for the opportunity to stay home with my sweet babies if we could swing it financially). Anyway, enough of that…

Tinker asked:
How do you add calories to breastmilk? Feed it from a bottle and add a supplement of sorts? What kind of supplement?

You can fortify breastmilk by adding a higher calorie supplement to expressed breastmilk in a bottle. Breastmilk and standard formulas have 20 calories per ounce. Preemie formulas have 22 or 24 calories per ounce (I think there is also 27 calorie, but I’m not certain). So Abby used to get fortified breastmilk by adding 1/2 a teaspoon of preemie formula to 3 ounces of breastmilk, which raised it to 22 calories per ounce. She’s not getting extra calories anymore, though, because she’s done sufficient catch up growth.

Several people have asked whether I will continue breastfeeding when I go back to work and the answer is, of course, yes. I’ll be pumping during breaks and overnight (and obviously breastfeeding whenever I’m home with them). I’m very pleased that I’ve made it this far without needing any formula (who can afford formula for three babies??), and my hope is to make it until they are at least 6 months adjusted before adding anything else to their diets.

Any other questions?

Read Full Post »

GYN Appointment
I had an OB/GYN appointment on Wednesday back with my regular doctor (no more perinatologist for me!). It was the first time I've seen him since a few days before I delivered when he came to visit me in the hospital, so it was good to see him, though I could have done without the exam! I was surprised at how many of my old feelings were still with me sitting in the waiting room amongst all the pregnant women there. You'd think having been through a pregnancy (one that lasted, even) and having three babies to show for it, that I wouldn't still feel like a completely inadequate in a roomful of pregnant women. But I was never one of those women…I never had the luxury of taking my pregnancy for granted. I didn't get to ever assume everything was fine because I had a pregnancy that was nearly guaranteed to result in a premature delivery and one in which things seemed to be going wrong every week (and I didn't have as bad a time as I could have). Anyway, I don't mind pregnant women…some of my best friends are pregnant women..I just find it overwhelming to be around that many at once.

The doctor asked whether my husband and I were doing anything about birth control. I missed my opportunity to answer with, "Well abstinence is the preferred method of Congress…" because I burst out laughing. Instead of lecturing me about the fact that there are lots of women who end up with an "oops baby" after years of fertility treatment, he just asked whether I'd be depressed if I ended up surprised by a pregnancy. After I stopped laughing, I told him I would die of shock because it would be the immaculate conception, but that we'd be thrilled to pieces. That satisfied him, so he was okay with me not doing anything to prevent it. I was actually a little surprised not to get a lecture about not wanting to be pregnant so soon after a triplet pregnancy and c-section (I got that lecture from the perinatologist while I was pregnant), but I'm cool with that. I'm very certain I'm not going to find myself surprised with a pregnancy anytime soon, or, like, ever.

I told him I was still bitter about the c-section and he said, "what do you mean?" He was shocked that I'd ever thought I could have a vaginal triplet delivery, and was surprised to learn that two of the perinatologists in the practice I went to have done (and were willing to do) vaginal triplet deliveries. I always knew that the odds were against me avoiding the c-section, but had Abby not been so little, they would have let me try it. Anyway, I told him that I'm all ready for my VBAC because I'm definitely going for a normal singleton pregnancy some day, darnit! I told him that HE was going to deliver my next baby because it was going to be JUST ONE. I'm not sure that I really have that much confidence that I'll manage to get pregnant again, but I'm certainly going to try (while praying that the Big Guy Upstairs doesn't have a sick enough sense of humor to send me quadruplets next time).

Pediatrician
I took Ellie to the pediatrician on Friday for a weight check. Well, I mean, all three babies went, but only Ellie got weighed and seen. I've known our pediatrician for about ten years (we used to attend the same synagogue, long before I had any kids), and I adore him. There are several other doctors in the practice, but I've made nearly all of our appointments with him because of Ellie's weight issues. I prefer seeing him because he's got a better appreciation of the trends we've been seeing with Ellie's progress (or lack thereof) and because I just like him in general. One time when I saw another doctor for one of Ellie's weight checks, she sort of shrugged me off as if I was overreacting. I admit that I was beginning to wonder if perhaps I was overreacting to Ellie's lack of weight gain – she's just so little compared to Abby and Sam. But she remains an enigma. She was 7 pounds, 7 ounces this week… which was only a 7 ounce gain in 17 days. Not terrible, but not quite what we would have liked to have seen, either. Even Dr. B said it would just be nice if she would go one way or another… slightly less gain and we would have known we needed to explore options, or slightly more and we'd know there was no problem whatsoever. She consistently gains less than he'd like to see her doing, but not so much so that it points to an obvious problem. He, like me, is somewhat worried, but not inclined to intervene too much at this point. She's not showing any other signs of reflux (she rarely spits up, she's not fussy when she goes on her all-too-frequent hunger strikes, she doesn't quit in the middle of feedings, she doesn't seem uncomfortable during or after feedings…), so trying reflux medication probably wouldn't do anything other than giving us one more thing to have to keep track of on a daily basis. He doesn't want to torture her with a huge blood draw for a metabolic screen, but he did do a small blood draw to check her thyroid hormone (T4, TSH), so we'll see if that illuminates us at all.

The triplets are scheduled to return for their four month visit in two weeks, and he said we'll just keep an eye on her until then and if I feel that things are taking a turn for the worse in the interim, I'm more than welcome to bring her in for another weight check. I doubt that I'll feel the need, but you never know. It's nice to know that they don't think I'm just an overreacting new mom, but I do wish she would just gain a little more weight a little faster so we could stop worrying all together. Poor baby. The doc WAS impressed that Ellie is pretty consistently sucking her thumb. Thumb sucking is apparently a developmental milestone you expect of a full term baby at 3 or 4 months, so she's about 2 months ahead of schedule. Go Ellie! Anywho, we're back to our wait-and-see strategy with her, and that's fine. I just wish she didn't have hunger strikes!

Your Questions Answered
Allie posted this question in a comment recently:

Is it really going to be cost effective to pay for childcare for 3 kids?? I hear that childcare for 1 is bad enougth…but I can't imagine paying for childcare for 3 newborns!!!! Won't you just be working to pay for childcare costs??

I get this question (or similar questions) a lot and I don't really understand it. No one knows how much I make or how much we'll be paying a nanny, so why do people assume that it's not cost effective? And why does no one ask my husband whether it's cost effective for him to work?? We make the same amount of money! The truth is, it IS cost effective, not only in the short run, but definitely in the long run. I make more money than we'll be paying the nanny. Does that mean we can afford a nanny? No. We still have more bills than we know what to do with. But we can't pay much more than the mortgage and a few utilities with my husband's salary alone and we've eaten through what little reserves we had with me out of work for the last seven months (bed rest for three months and almost four months since… time flies when you're sleep deprived). Anyway, in the short run, yes, it is cost effective for me to work. It would not be if I made less money.

More importantly, however, it is cost effective in the long run. If I were to pull myself out of the job market until the kids went to kindergarten or 1st grade, I would no longer be marketable in my field because the standards and technology are changing too rapidly for me to keep up on my own. So even if we were losing money on a nanny at this point, it would be worth it in the long run because there is no other field that I'm qualified for in which I could maintain my current salary years down the road.

And while it's true that I have little desire to return to work, I find it odd that no one seems to consider the possibility that maybe I like what I do. (I do like what I do, though I'd gladly give it up for the opportunity to stay home with my sweet babies if we could swing it financially). Anyway, enough of that…

Tinker asked:
How do you add calories to breastmilk? Feed it from a bottle and add a supplement of sorts? What kind of supplement?

You can fortify breastmilk by adding a higher calorie supplement to expressed breastmilk in a bottle. Breastmilk and standard formulas have 20 calories per ounce. Preemie formulas have 22 or 24 calories per ounce (I think there is also 27 calorie, but I'm not certain). So Abby used to get fortified breastmilk by adding 1/2 a teaspoon of preemie formula to 3 ounces of breastmilk, which raised it to 22 calories per ounce. She's not getting extra calories anymore, though, because she's done sufficient catch up growth.

Several people have asked whether I will continue breastfeeding when I go back to work and the answer is, of course, yes. I'll be pumping during breaks and overnight (and obviously breastfeeding whenever I'm home with them). I'm very pleased that I've made it this far without needing any formula (who can afford formula for three babies??), and my hope is to make it until they are at least 6 months adjusted before adding anything else to their diets.

Any other questions?

Read Full Post »

I had my six-week post-partum appointment yesterday. I have a clean bill of health. It’s kind of sad for me, really. It feels like I’m closing a chapter of my life. I’m officially not pregnant anymore. I mean, I haven’t been pregnant for six weeks now, but something feels different and final now. And I miss it. And I’m sad that this may have been my last pregnancy. Even though I have four children now, I never wanted to have just one pregnancy (well, two, but the first one doesn’t count in this sense).. I never thought I’d have three at once. I never thought this was how I would build my family. I don’t want this to have been my last chance. And if I were a fertile myrtle, it would be easy to say, “well, okay, so if you get pregnant again, so be it, and that’ll be great.” But we all know it’s just not that easy. So I know a lot of you are rolling your eyes that I have four kids and I’m not satisfied, and some of you probably think that this is just postpartum hormones, but I don’t think it is. I’m sleep deprived, overwhelmed, can barely imagine handling another infant right now, but I long for the experience again.

Today would have been an easy day for me to say that I never want to go through this again. I was supposed to take J to school, which would have meant piling the triplets and J into the van and getting him up to school. This doesn’t sound so hard, until you consider that all the babies have to be fed, changed, and put into car seats before they can be brought out to the car. Add that to the fact that J has to be changed, fed, and clothed and his lunch had to be made. Oh, and then there’s the fact that Sam was up ALL NIGHT. He will NOT stop eating. He just keeps going and going. He woke up screaming with hunger at 2am (an hour before I expected him to wake up) and nursed from 2-4:45 when my husband took him away and gave him a bottle so that I could get some sleep. He wasn’t just using me as a pacifier either, because he was really hungry and he would scream bloody murder if he unlatched, and he wouldn’t take a regular pacifier. He was still hungry even after the bottle. He whimpered and whined for an hour and a half until he started screaming at 6:45 begging for food. So I nursed him until almost 9am when I gave up and gave him a bottle and he was STILL hungry. Meanwhile, I had three other kids to take care of, and I had decided that the four year old wasn’t going to make it to preschool since none of us were dressed, fed or ready to go.

Today is the first day I have felt completely overwhelmed. But I STILL miss pregnancy. I still want to have another baby someday, even if people think I’m greedy for saying so.

Anyway, odds are good Sam’s just going through a ginormous growth spurt. Babies apparently go through growth spurts approximately every 3 weeks, and he’s six weeks old exactly today, so it makes sense, right? Apparently this should “only” last 2-3 days. Which would be totally manageable if he were a singleton, but hey, did I mention that there are TWO OTHER BABIES and a four year old to take care of? But this shall pass, right? Oh, and a friend of mine came and picked up J and took him to preschool an hour and a half late, but he got there regardless. Thank heavens. So the day is looking up, and I can do this. Parenthood certainly has its challenges, but I can do this, right? RIGHT?

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I had my six-week post-partum appointment yesterday. I have a clean bill of health. It's kind of sad for me, really. It feels like I'm closing a chapter of my life. I'm officially not pregnant anymore. I mean, I haven't been pregnant for six weeks now, but something feels different and final now. And I miss it. And I'm sad that this may have been my last pregnancy. Even though I have four children now, I never wanted to have just one pregnancy (well, two, but the first one doesn't count in this sense).. I never thought I'd have three at once. I never thought this was how I would build my family. I don't want this to have been my last chance. And if I were a fertile myrtle, it would be easy to say, "well, okay, so if you get pregnant again, so be it, and that'll be great." But we all know it's just not that easy. So I know a lot of you are rolling your eyes that I have four kids and I'm not satisfied, and some of you probably think that this is just postpartum hormones, but I don't think it is. I'm sleep deprived, overwhelmed, can barely imagine handling another infant right now, but I long for the experience again.

Today would have been an easy day for me to say that I never want to go through this again. I was supposed to take J to school, which would have meant piling the triplets and J into the van and getting him up to school. This doesn't sound so hard, until you consider that all the babies have to be fed, changed, and put into car seats before they can be brought out to the car. Add that to the fact that J has to be changed, fed, and clothed and his lunch had to be made. Oh, and then there's the fact that Sam was up ALL NIGHT. He will NOT stop eating. He just keeps going and going. He woke up screaming with hunger at 2am (an hour before I expected him to wake up) and nursed from 2-4:45 when my husband took him away and gave him a bottle so that I could get some sleep. He wasn't just using me as a pacifier either, because he was really hungry and he would scream bloody murder if he unlatched, and he wouldn't take a regular pacifier. He was still hungry even after the bottle. He whimpered and whined for an hour and a half until he started screaming at 6:45 begging for food. So I nursed him until almost 9am when I gave up and gave him a bottle and he was STILL hungry. Meanwhile, I had three other kids to take care of, and I had decided that the four year old wasn't going to make it to preschool since none of us were dressed, fed or ready to go.

Today is the first day I have felt completely overwhelmed. But I STILL miss pregnancy. I still want to have another baby someday, even if people think I'm greedy for saying so.

Anyway, odds are good Sam's just going through a ginormous growth spurt. Babies apparently go through growth spurts approximately every 3 weeks, and he's six weeks old exactly today, so it makes sense, right? Apparently this should "only" last 2-3 days. Which would be totally manageable if he were a singleton, but hey, did I mention that there are TWO OTHER BABIES and a four year old to take care of? But this shall pass, right? Oh, and a friend of mine came and picked up J and took him to preschool an hour and a half late, but he got there regardless. Thank heavens. So the day is looking up, and I can do this. Parenthood certainly has its challenges, but I can do this, right? RIGHT?

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Lots Happening

I haven’t posted in a bit and it’s largely because my life consists of mooing, sleeping, mooing, taking J to school, mooing, laundry, mooing, visiting the NICU, mooing, Jewish holiday, mooing, dishes, mooing, back to NICU, more mooing, eating, mooing, thinking about a shower, mooing, sleeping, mooing, calling the NICU to check on the kiddos, mooing…

Right.

All the kiddos are still in the NICU. I’m still pumping. A lot. They are all nursing twice a day when I’m there, but that doesn’t get me off the moo duty, of course. Today I pumped 46 ounces of milk, which isn’t nearly enough to make any significant amount of cheese, but is enough to feed 17 day old triplets. Except Ellie keeps eating MORE! Pressure! How will I ever keep up?? They are all getting bigger, which is a relief.

Ellie and our little guy are doing well. They are both out of their isolettes and have had their feeding tubes removed. They still are having too many bradys to come home, but they are making progress. I expect them to be home probably early-to-mid-week unless something unexpected happens.

Abby is a slightly different story. On Tuesday her hematocrit dropped to 22 (it should be in the low-to-mid 30’s). The doctors were alarmed, but not completely freaked out. Our bodies SHOULD theoretically make more blood when they figure out that we are low on blood and they had ruled out a brain hemorrhage already with the routine head ultrasound they had coincidentally done that morning anyway (the most obvious and also most horrifying explanation for the drop in the hematocrit). Some mention was made of the vague possibility of maybe someday considering a possible transfusion if it didn’t resolve itself, but it was all very blurry and seemed unlikely. S and I and the triplets are all O-positive, but I can’t be a directed donor right now because I just had a baby (three, even!). And anyway, it seemed unlikely to be necessary. After all, it could have just been a blip. Since she wasn’t symptomatic, they’d treat her with vitamins and iron and hope it resolved itself.

The next day, however, the nurse practitioner told me that the doctor wanted to have S tested as a directed donor if he was willing. He needed to be tested for CMV antibodies. Most of us walk around CMV positive, which isn’t a big deal, but they don’t give CMV+ blood to babies. So she wrote a script for S to get tested. By the time she wrote that script, though, the lab was closed, so S came in with me to the hospital on Thursday to get the lab to draw the tests he needed. There still seemed to be no great sense of urgency on anyone’s part, but everyone wanted to make sure our bases were covered should the need arise. Meanwhile, our little Abby-saurus was looking paler than ever.

Friday I went in for the babies’ 11am feeding, as usual, and met with the nurse practitioner. Abby’s hematocrit had dropped again, to 17. This was too low, and they didn’t feel that they could wait for the results from S’s CMV screening. At best, they would get the result back Saturday. Odds were not in his favor that he’d be CMV negative anyway, and even if he were, it would take 5-7 days to process his blood before it could be given to her. That was too long to wait with a level that low. The best option was to use an anonymous donor. There are risks with anonymous donors, of course. There are risks with directed donors, for sure, but you theoretically have a better handle on those odds. The NP ran through the numbers on the risks and I listened with half an ear as I usually do on such things, and she got me the consent to sign. And I went to read it.

And I stood there, pen in hand, trying to sign that piece of paper without crying.

Yesterday was Simchas Torah. It’s a beautiful holiday on the Jewish calendar. A day on which I should have been in the synagogue watching my wonderful husband an beautiful son dance joyfully with the Torah. Instead, I joyfully went off to spend the morning with my three angels in the NICU, never expecting to be standing there trying to sign a consent for a blood transfusion for my tiny Abby. Worse, this was a choice I had to make on my own. I couldn’t have reached Seth if I’d wanted to. He was in the synagogue. I had no way of reaching him. He had no phone, no pager, and even if he did, he wouldn’t have been answering them because of the holiday. I couldn’t call my rabbi, for he, too, was celebrating the day. There was no one I could reach who could get my husband quickly enough to get him to weigh in on this one. So I stood next to Abby’s isolette reading this consent which said I understood that 1 in 600,000 anonymous blood donors may be HIV positive, even though the blood IS screened for it, and likewise that 1 in 66,000 may be hepatitis positive. Those are tiny, miniscule odds. Those are odds I scoff at when signing consents for myself. I wouldn’t have thought twice about those numbers if it were my own blood transfusion. I didn’t think twice about them as the NP was rattling them off verbally. But standing next to my tiny 3 pound baby (she’s over three pounds now!) holding a pen on a day that I normally wouldn’t have been signing anything… those numbers sounded huge. I was consenting to 30ml of blood… 6 teaspoons!… that could possibly be HIV or hepatitis positive to be transfused into my tiny, helpless baby’s body. And it was all on me, since I couldn’t get S to weigh in on that one.

Obviously I signed the consent. Because the consent also said that I understood that failure to agree to the transfusion could result in death. And well, if there’s one thing we Jews understand, it’s a good guilt trip. And honestly, there wasn’t any way around it. Abby was tachycardic. She was having a lot of bradycardias also. Her monitors were going off left and right. She was deathly pale. My normally alert daughter was barely opening her eyes that morning. So much for not being symptomatic.

Once I signed the consent, the nurse got two IVs in. One for the blood and one for IV fluids, because they were going to hold her feedings for the transfusion. The transfusion would be done in two, two-hour sessions with a four-hour break in between. (the four-hour break turned out to be much longer, because it took the blood bank a while to get the second batch of blood up to the NICU) I couldn’t stay at the hospital for the transfusion, because S didn’t know what was going on and I needed to get home. Plus, being at the NICU while it was going on wasn’t going to help anyone. The nurses and NP all said it would be better that she simply rest and that I go home. So that’s what I did. And by Saturday morning when I saw her again, she was pinker and happier and more alert and her heartrate was down into the 150s, right where it should be. She was a much happier camper, as was I. That’s my girl.

It’s not lost on me that last Simchas Torah I was suffering complications from a late miscarriage, and this Simchas Torah I was making choices for the betterment of my daughter’s health and well-being. More ironically… the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar don’t line up precisely… so Monday will be even more significant. Last Columbus Day (2006) I had a miscarriage. This Columbus Day (2007), I’ll be having my first of two post-op check ups with my perinatologist following the birth of my triplets. And when that’s finished, I’ll walk to the other end of the hospital to nurse my babies and talk to a doctor about when they can come home.

Edited to Add: I should mention that I called the Red Cross eventually and explained that my husband had been a blood donor for a billion years and was now being asked to be a directed donor for our 2 week old infant in the NICU. Did they by any chance keep records on whether he was CMV+? Why, yes, as a matter of fact, they do. In fact, all I needed to do was provide my home telephone number and the very helpful agent gave me his full name, his blood type, and informed me that he was CMV positive. So he was ineligible as a directed donor for Abby anyway. You don’t give CMV+ blood to babies, so there’s a pretty small donor pool.

Someone asked why they didn’t order the directed donor tests and draw on Tuesday when it first dropped… honestly, a crit of 22 is low, but since she wasn’t symptomatic and her head ultrasound had JUST been done and was negative for hemorrhage, there wasn’t a good reason to believe it wouldn’t come back up. I spoke with a pediatrician friend of mine and she said she wouldn’t have ordered the tests and draw either. Furthermore, the Red Cross wouldn’t have taken the blood without the screening tests first for directed-donor for some reason. I didn’t think to ask them about their record keeping until Friday when it was a moot point anyway.

It does really take 5-7 days to process blood. This is standard for the Red Cross. I’m not sure what they do to it, but it has been like this for a long time. I don’t know the specifics, but I know the Red Cross tests for a wide variety of microbial and viral substances as well as drug contamination, etc. To be honest, my husband works in a hospital which is full of all sorts of germy germs, and this blood was supposed to go into my 3 pound baby… I wouldn’t WANT them to rush that process.

Lastly, regarding my husband wearing a pager to shul… he did wear one to shul when I was in the hospital during Rosh Hashana before I delivered, but we hadn’t really thought he would still need it, since all the babies were doing so well… we had three very healthy babies in the NICU until Friday, even accounting for Tuesday’s low hematocrit. We’ll see how the week goes, and ask about having him carry the pager next Shabbos just in case. It was poor planning on our parts, that’s for sure.

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Lots Happening

I haven't posted in a bit and it's largely because my life consists of mooing, sleeping, mooing, taking J to school, mooing, laundry, mooing, visiting the NICU, mooing, Jewish holiday, mooing, dishes, mooing, back to NICU, more mooing, eating, mooing, thinking about a shower, mooing, sleeping, mooing, calling the NICU to check on the kiddos, mooing…

Right.

All the kiddos are still in the NICU. I'm still pumping. A lot. They are all nursing twice a day when I'm there, but that doesn't get me off the moo duty, of course. Today I pumped 46 ounces of milk, which isn't nearly enough to make any significant amount of cheese, but is enough to feed 17 day old triplets. Except Ellie keeps eating MORE! Pressure! How will I ever keep up?? They are all getting bigger, which is a relief.

Ellie and our little guy are doing well. They are both out of their isolettes and have had their feeding tubes removed. They still are having too many bradys to come home, but they are making progress. I expect them to be home probably early-to-mid-week unless something unexpected happens.

Abby is a slightly different story. On Tuesday her hematocrit dropped to 22 (it should be in the low-to-mid 30's). The doctors were alarmed, but not completely freaked out. Our bodies SHOULD theoretically make more blood when they figure out that we are low on blood and they had ruled out a brain hemorrhage already with the routine head ultrasound they had coincidentally done that morning anyway (the most obvious and also most horrifying explanation for the drop in the hematocrit). Some mention was made of the vague possibility of maybe someday considering a possible transfusion if it didn't resolve itself, but it was all very blurry and seemed unlikely. S and I and the triplets are all O-positive, but I can't be a directed donor right now because I just had a baby (three, even!). And anyway, it seemed unlikely to be necessary. After all, it could have just been a blip. Since she wasn't symptomatic, they'd treat her with vitamins and iron and hope it resolved itself.

The next day, however, the nurse practitioner told me that the doctor wanted to have S tested as a directed donor if he was willing. He needed to be tested for CMV antibodies. Most of us walk around CMV positive, which isn't a big deal, but they don't give CMV+ blood to babies. So she wrote a script for S to get tested. By the time she wrote that script, though, the lab was closed, so S came in with me to the hospital on Thursday to get the lab to draw the tests he needed. There still seemed to be no great sense of urgency on anyone's part, but everyone wanted to make sure our bases were covered should the need arise. Meanwhile, our little Abby-saurus was looking paler than ever.

Friday I went in for the babies' 11am feeding, as usual, and met with the nurse practitioner. Abby's hematocrit had dropped again, to 17. This was too low, and they didn't feel that they could wait for the results from S's CMV screening. At best, they would get the result back Saturday. Odds were not in his favor that he'd be CMV negative anyway, and even if he were, it would take 5-7 days to process his blood before it could be given to her. That was too long to wait with a level that low. The best option was to use an anonymous donor. There are risks with anonymous donors, of course. There are risks with directed donors, for sure, but you theoretically have a better handle on those odds. The NP ran through the numbers on the risks and I listened with half an ear as I usually do on such things, and she got me the consent to sign. And I went to read it.

And I stood there, pen in hand, trying to sign that piece of paper without crying.

Yesterday was Simchas Torah. It's a beautiful holiday on the Jewish calendar. A day on which I should have been in the synagogue watching my wonderful husband an beautiful son dance joyfully with the Torah. Instead, I joyfully went off to spend the morning with my three angels in the NICU, never expecting to be standing there trying to sign a consent for a blood transfusion for my tiny Abby. Worse, this was a choice I had to make on my own. I couldn't have reached Seth if I'd wanted to. He was in the synagogue. I had no way of reaching him. He had no phone, no pager, and even if he did, he wouldn't have been answering them because of the holiday. I couldn't call my rabbi, for he, too, was celebrating the day. There was no one I could reach who could get my husband quickly enough to get him to weigh in on this one. So I stood next to Abby's isolette reading this consent which said I understood that 1 in 600,000 anonymous blood donors may be HIV positive, even though the blood IS screened for it, and likewise that 1 in 66,000 may be hepatitis positive. Those are tiny, miniscule odds. Those are odds I scoff at when signing consents for myself. I wouldn't have thought twice about those numbers if it were my own blood transfusion. I didn't think twice about them as the NP was rattling them off verbally. But standing next to my tiny 3 pound baby (she's over three pounds now!) holding a pen on a day that I normally wouldn't have been signing anything… those numbers sounded huge. I was consenting to 30ml of blood… 6 teaspoons!… that could possibly be HIV or hepatitis positive to be transfused into my tiny, helpless baby's body. And it was all on me, since I couldn't get S to weigh in on that one.

Obviously I signed the consent. Because the consent also said that I understood that failure to agree to the transfusion could result in death. And well, if there's one thing we Jews understand, it's a good guilt trip. And honestly, there wasn't any way around it. Abby was tachycardic. She was having a lot of bradycardias also. Her monitors were going off left and right. She was deathly pale. My normally alert daughter was barely opening her eyes that morning. So much for not being symptomatic.

Once I signed the consent, the nurse got two IVs in. One for the blood and one for IV fluids, because they were going to hold her feedings for the transfusion. The transfusion would be done in two, two-hour sessions with a four-hour break in between. (the four-hour break turned out to be much longer, because it took the blood bank a while to get the second batch of blood up to the NICU) I couldn't stay at the hospital for the transfusion, because S didn't know what was going on and I needed to get home. Plus, being at the NICU while it was going on wasn't going to help anyone. The nurses and NP all said it would be better that she simply rest and that I go home. So that's what I did. And by Saturday morning when I saw her again, she was pinker and happier and more alert and her heartrate was down into the 150s, right where it should be. She was a much happier camper, as was I. That's my girl.

It's not lost on me that last Simchas Torah I was suffering complications from a late miscarriage, and this Simchas Torah I was making choices for the betterment of my daughter's health and well-being. More ironically… the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar don't line up precisely… so Monday will be even more significant. Last Columbus Day (2006) I had a miscarriage. This Columbus Day (2007), I'll be having my first of two post-op check ups with my perinatologist following the birth of my triplets. And when that's finished, I'll walk to the other end of the hospital to nurs
e my babies and talk to a doctor about when they can come home.

Edited to Add: I should mention that I called the Red Cross eventually and explained that my husband had been a blood donor for a billion years and was now being asked to be a directed donor for our 2 week old infant in the NICU. Did they by any chance keep records on whether he was CMV+? Why, yes, as a matter of fact, they do. In fact, all I needed to do was provide my home telephone number and the very helpful agent gave me his full name, his blood type, and informed me that he was CMV positive. So he was ineligible as a directed donor for Abby anyway. You don't give CMV+ blood to babies, so there's a pretty small donor pool.

Someone asked why they didn't order the directed donor tests and draw on Tuesday when it first dropped… honestly, a crit of 22 is low, but since she wasn't symptomatic and her head ultrasound had JUST been done and was negative for hemorrhage, there wasn't a good reason to believe it wouldn't come back up. I spoke with a pediatrician friend of mine and she said she wouldn't have ordered the tests and draw either. Furthermore, the Red Cross wouldn't have taken the blood without the screening tests first for directed-donor for some reason. I didn't think to ask them about their record keeping until Friday when it was a moot point anyway.

It does really take 5-7 days to process blood. This is standard for the Red Cross. I'm not sure what they do to it, but it has been like this for a long time. I don't know the specifics, but I know the Red Cross tests for a wide variety of microbial and viral substances as well as drug contamination, etc. To be honest, my husband works in a hospital which is full of all sorts of germy germs, and this blood was supposed to go into my 3 pound baby… I wouldn't WANT them to rush that process.

Lastly, regarding my husband wearing a pager to shul… he did wear one to shul when I was in the hospital during Rosh Hashana before I delivered, but we hadn't really thought he would still need it, since all the babies were doing so well… we had three very healthy babies in the NICU until Friday, even accounting for Tuesday's low hematocrit. We'll see how the week goes, and ask about having him carry the pager next Shabbos just in case. It was poor planning on our parts, that's for sure.

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Jessica Here…
First off, let me reassure everyone and let you all know that Karen sounds perfectly fine, very calm, and very “Karen-like” 🙂 Any of us that know Karen in real life know her penchant for keeping cool in crazy situations… Hence her calm demeanor this evening!
Anyway, after talking to the Momma herself this evening, she’s doing well. They’ve admitted her because of her possible pre-eclamptic issues. The tests that were run a few days ago, showed slightly elevated liver enzymes which along with high blood pressure, usually indicate issues with pre-eclampsia. So, for right now, she’s there for observation purposes only… There are no definitive plans as to what they’re going to do right now. We chatted for a bit and she laid out the three distinct possibilities:
1. The MD’s come back tomorrow and decide on a delivery time. (eeek!)
2. The MD’s come in and decide that the pre-eclampsia is not progressing and send her on home.
3. The MD’s come in and decide to sit on her and the babes for the duration…
Tomorrow at twilight marks the start of one of the larger holidays for Karen and her Family, so of course, hanging at the hospital (while not fun) might be the most practical of the options… I’m really hoping they don’t just send her home… But hey, Doctor’s know best right?? 🙂 On that thread of thought also, the Terbutaline pump that Karen has been using to keep the contractions at bay? It has been discontinued… The Doctors see a connection between pre-eclampsia and terb, so no more of that for now! I was reassured to hear that she was still taking some Procardia, but was unfortunately a little uncomfortable regardless… On the upside, they’re 32 weeks tomorrow…
I’ll keep you all posted with information as it becomes available! Please keep them all in your thoughts!

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