Monday, August 2, 2010

Amelia comes home!

The long awaited day has finally arrived!

Actually, it arrived this past Wednesday, but we've been a little busy since then. Amelia Frances finally came home to live with the rest of her family. Wouldn't you know it, we had just started to get into a rhythm with Elena, who had a two-week head start on her sister at home. We thought we had it all figured out. Here's a short list of things we weren't prepared for...

1) Tubes and wires. Holy cow, cord management has never been so important. With one baby, we had to fight to keep monitor wires and oxygen tubing straight. With two babies, we're a tangled mess. After an hour of feeding and diaper changing the two of them, then putting one in this chair and the other on that--our living room ends up looking like something you'd need a machete to get out of. We're seriously looking forward to wireless children.

2) The relentless inevitability of the next feed, followed by the next one, followed by... I thought the hard part was going to be middle of the night feedings. Turns out, for us the hardest thing is knowing that everything we're doing right now is going to have to happen all over again in three hours. It's seemingly never ending.

3) Delerium. Speaking of late night feedings, apparently I'm so delerious when I wake up in the middle of the night that I feed invisible babies (with invisible bottles). One night I was so convincing in my confusion that I actually awoke Crissie and asked her to hold my invisible baby while I attended to the other one. She was so confused that she obliged--only to find that the invisible baby was actually a bundle of comforter. I wish I could say I was just kidding around, but I was dead serious. (It should be noted that all babies were safe in their beds at this point and were never in any danger from their sleep-deprived father)

Need sleep!!!

4) Ridiculous amounts of cuteness. So really, one tiny baby is cute enough, but two is almost nauseatingly adorable. It's non-stop. I think they're incapable of not being cute. Even when they're fussy and smell like a Port-a-let at Mardi Gras, they still find a way to be cute. Even my obnoxiously sarcastic demeanor is nearly moved to tears at just how beatiful they are--and God forbid they crack a smile.

Amelia's first bath at home.

Twin sisters holding twin sisters (Awwww!)

Zonked out in bed for the first time.

All kidding aside, the kids are doing great. Amelia's nearly seven pounds and Elena is around five and a half. They're doing well with their feeds and they're adjusting very well to life at home. Getting geared up to go anywhere with both of them plus their monitors and oxygen bottles can be a little much, but we're getting used to it. We also have developed even more respect for all those quad and triplet mommas out there. We talk all the time about how much more planning it must take to handle the additional... everything! Every time we think we're overwhelmed, well, you get my drift... 

I've said it 1000 times, but we can't say thanks enough to the staff at Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge. They did such an outstanding job with Amelia and Elena. We're so happy to have them both home, but Crissie and I genuinely miss our friends in Labor & Delivery and in the NICU--and not just because they would change a lot of diapers for us! 

Coming up on four months... I know, I can't believe it either...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Elena comes home...

Man, it's tough to keep up with this thing.

It's nearly been a month since my last post and a lot has changed. The girls moved from Pod 5, to Pod 2 (which is a step in the right direction), and ultimately to the Special Care Nursery. For us, this meant open cribs, low-flow canula for oxygen, and bottle feeding. Also, as a result of the open crib, it meant much more "cuddle time" for mom and dad... which is always a good thing.

Elena, who as I write this is nearly a pound less than Amelia, progressed so well on her bottle feedings that the doctors said she had to go home. So, yesterday, we loaded up the truck and took our first baby home.

As I sit here in our quiet home with Elena sleeping away between feedings, I can only think about the circuitous route that Crissie and I have taken to parenthood. When we bought this house, we knew it was going to be the place where we were going to raise our children. We had everything figured out. Or, so we thought.

Now, after nearly 3 months in the NICU, being at home with one of our babies seems like the most precious blessing we could ever imagine. I joked recently that I was actually looking forward to "screaming baby at 4am," but truthfully, I was looking forward to it. That was until last night, when it finally happened--wasn't quite the warm and fuzzy moment I'd imagined.

Despite that, we'll never again take for granted how "easy" it is to make babies. The first time one of them tells us that they hate us, or they come home with green hair, or with something pierced that shouldn't be, we'll remember this lesson. It was so hard to make them, that we can't just go make new ones if we screw this up.


This was right before the big move to Special Care. Amelia on the left, Elena right.

Elena in her car seat on the big ride!

First poop in a house!

Baby like bouncy chair!

Her first trick! Holding the pacifier by herself (and trying to rip out her nasal prongs all at the same time!)

This might seem like the biggest baby bed ever, but it's not.

Elena is weighing just a shade over 4.5 pounds. She's eating well, and even though being on oxygen at home was a little scary to think about, it's a good reminder of what our little angel has been through. We cherish her every breath and we're so thankful to have her home.

Amelia should be home by the end of the week. She's a whopping 5 pounds, 10 ounces at the moment, but she's been a little slower on feeds. Today, she was stepped up to 8 bottle feeds in the Special Care Nursery so the end is near for her. She was the first one out of her mommy, so it's only fair that Elena was the first to come home.

We can't wait to get them together again!!!

Amelia left. Elena right.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Moving right along...

I've been a very bad blogger lately...

I've started and stopped this entry a few times, and thus (because things change so fast) I've had to start over each time. I'll go "long story short" and say that overall, the girls are doing well. It's hard to believe that they are two months old today--or roughly 35 weeks gestational age.

They are both getting close to four pounds. They are both slowly becoming more able to maintain their temperature. They're both getting at least one feed a day via bottle. They've grown so much and they're definitely starting to settle into their little personalities.

This is Elena taking a bottle...

...and Amelia.

Momma and her babies.

Elena sleeping without her feeding tube.

So, they're doing well, their mommy and daddy are doing well. We're so excited about the idea of going home, but we're not allowing ourselves to get our hopes up yet. Their original due date was July 24th, so realistically, we've still got a ways to go. In the meantime, Crissie and I enjoy bathing them, changing their diapers, getting them dressed, and holding them when we can. Our NICU nurses and doctors continue to be awesome.

Time is flying by so fast and Crissie and I often joke that we'll be sending them off to college before we know it. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trying not to jinx it... (D-Day + 31)

So, our early NICU experience was so up and down that we've developed a phobia of admitting when they're doing well for fear of jinxing it. It's funny, if you so much as mention the "Q" word (quiet) in the presence of nurses, you're sure to see them diving for cover expecting the ceiling to cave in. It's a surprisingly superstitious place. When the girls are doing well, I feel like we're all in the dugout in the 8th inning with a pitcher who's got a perfect game going. Nobody say anything...

Well, it's been a few days and at the risk of tempting the fates, we have to report that the last week has been pretty good in general. Maybe we're getting desensitized to the little blips, but it sure feels like they're progressing well of late.

Amelia (little Miss Consistent) is up to 6.5 mL of continuous feeding which is pretty much the maximum for her weight (which is roughly 2 pounds 4 ounces). She's tolerating her feeds really well and is growing pretty steadily. She's back down to 2 liters on the Vapotherm and she bounces around between 30 to 60% oxygen levels to maintain her saturations. No IVs or PICC lines. Overall, she's in good shape. She has the usual ups and downs--the occasional apnea or bradycardia, but she usually recovers well unassisted.

Elena (our Drama Queen) is up to 6.0 mL of continuous feeding which is good too and she's also weighing in around 2 pounds 4 ounces. She's tolerating her foods really well and seems to be stooling and urinating regularly. I only mention it because early on it was an issue. Her breathing is improving although she had a setback since our last update. Her carbon dioxide levels in her gas samples were coming back high. She was reintubated, then got upgraded to CPAP. She's now back down to the lowest rate on the CPAP and we're hoping she'll get moved back to Vapotherm soon. She looks like an underwater samurai--which is to say, uncomfortable (as any samurai who's spent time underwater will attest). No IVs or PICC lines. She just finished up some antibiotics for a little infection in the PICC line, but all seems to be better now.

On another note, we have received more thoughts, prayers, words of support, and genuine love from friends and family than we can ever possibly acknowledge. So many of our close friends, blog-followers, long-lost pals, distant families, buddies on facebook, current and former co-workers, and many complete strangers have reached out to us to show how much they care for us in this time of emotional awkwardness. To know how many people are out there cheering us on is truly touching. We still have our "dark and twisty" moments, but they get fewer and fewer as the days tick away. It's hard to think too much about "what might have been" when "what actually is" is altogether precious and awe-inspiring.

We can't possibly be more grateful for this tsunami of support we've received. It's meant more to us than many of you will ever know. Though we haven't been able to respond to many of you lately, know that your messages were received, they were appreciated, and they helped. Blasting this to the world via blog seems a wholly insubstantial way to communicate our appreciation, but we're having to make trade-offs for the sake of efficiency. We are sincerely thankful that each of you are a part of our lives.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

NICU Update (D-Day + 17)

By the time I put the period on this sentence, what I think I know about the condition about our daughters will be old news.

Seriously, it changes that fast.

First their PDAs are open. Then they're closed. Then one's open again. Got that fixed. The other one's open. Now it's closed. Check that...

Feedings? Yep, they're both feeding. No they're not. One of them is. Not anymore. One's not pooping. Now she's pooping. Starting feeds. Stopping feeds. Why? PDAs open. Crap!

How's their breathing? Great! Extubated after a couple of days. Now on Vapotherm. One's three liters. One's two liters. One's on high-flow canulas. One's on low-flow canulas. Room air trials (maybe)? Blood gases acidic. Reintubated. Oxygen 74%. Oxygen 100%. Back to Vapotherm. Doing good. Sleeping comfortably. Her PDAs open? Reintubated--do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

If this sounds familiar, then you've either worked in, or had multiples in the NICU.

As I re-read the above, I continue to be marvelled that it's not an exaggeration at all. This has become our life. People will ask me how they're doing and I'll give them the latest. Then, they'll ask me again three hours later at which point I'll tell them that whatever we were worried about earlier is now fine, but now there's three more things we're concerned about. People must think we have some sort of hyperactive "Munchausen syndrome by proxy."

I'm just going to start telling people that they're slowly turning into sea turtles.

So, here's the real latest scoop.

Amelia is doing pretty well. She was down to low-flow canulas at room air, but then her PDA re-opened up, so they moved her back to 2-liters Vapotherm and they gave her the 3 rounds of drugs to close it. They think it worked, so they resumed feeds and she seems to be doing fine. Her blood gases are checking out okay. She has some minor swelling, but she's peeing well enough, so they aren't overly concerned.

Elena is more of a challenge. At 10 days, she wasn't pooping. A couple of enemas and some Muco-mist later (I can't wait for her friends to read this one day), we got some poop. So we started some feeds. Then, her blood started getting acidic and she stopped peeing. So they stopped feeds and reintubated her. Now her gases look better and she's peeing. She's intubated at room air for the moment. She's struggling with ventilation even though her oxygenation is doing well. The doctors think she's worn herself out for the moment. So, we wait a little while and regroup.

Honestly, don't you just want some pictures already???

Amelia, the laid-back one.

Crissie and I spend a lot of time seeing each other like this. (Amelia's isolette)

Elena says "hello."

Taking a noonie.

That's all for now. You can be sure that anything you now know about how they're doing has since changed. It's the only thing that seems to be consistent for now.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Wheelock Quads are Born (Part 1)

We thought we were prepared for this.

Saturday was a day that started like so many others since our stay at Woman's Hospital began. I was on my cot and Crissie on her bed. My "uniform" that day was my Mississippi State hooded sweatshirt, my Mississippi State shorts, and my Mississippi State fluffy slippers that look like clown shoes. Something about being in Baton Rouge makes me feel the need to exaggerate my "Maroon-ness." Plus, I'm kinda' known around the hospital for those ridiculous slippers and I have a reputation to uphold. Our plan was to watch movies, Law & Order, and mostly vegetate all day.

Crissie was feeling uncomfortable. Of course, her belly was big, she hadn't had a night of uninterrupted sleep in over a week, and the straps on the uterine and heart monitors were irritating to the point of exhaustion. She'd been off antibiotics since early Friday morning and all indications were that they had done their job. The constant worry about Garrison's leaking amniotic fluid hung like a dark cloud over our situation, but there wasn't much we could do about it beyond hope.

My brother came to visit late in the afternoon because he was in the area and we hung out for about an hour. He left because he could tell Crissie wasn't feeling well. Around 5:00, Crissie started to get really uncomfortable, so we took off the monitors. It was about this point that she started getting the chills. We were still on high-alert for fevers, so we immediately started doing temperature checks. She was running about 99.9 so we called in Rachel, our nurse who was assigned to us for the first time (bless her heart).

Crissie and I immediately assumed the same thing: An infection was taking hold. We'd heard how quickly infections could wipe out a pregnancy if left unchecked, but even we were surprised with the speed and ferocity of this illness. Within two hours of the onset of her symptoms, her fever was 102 degrees. The decision to get the babies out was made quickly. By the time Crissie was on the operating table, she had vomited, was convulsing, and shivering so hard it was painful to watch. I was truly scared for her life at that point. However, they got her on the table a little over 3 hours from the onset of symptoms--pretty impressive considering the complex issues in play.

At 8:38 pm on April 17th, Amelia Frances (Baby B) was born first at 1 pound, 7.5 ounces. At 8:39 came Elena Marie (Baby C) at 1 pound 15.8 ounces, followed by Garrison Thomas (Baby A) at 8:40 also weighing 1 pound 15.8 ounces. At 8:41, Lillian Brooks was born sleeping.

Drs. St. Amant and Diket performed the C-Section and were assisted by a myriad of neonatologists, respiratory therapists, NICU nurses, and surgical assistants. Three of our "Top 4" nurses were able to make it in time for the surgery. Jami, Tanyl, and Tracy raced to the hospital and pitched in on their own time for which we can't thank them enough. We wish that Jennifer J. would have been able to make it too, but she was out of town and couldn't be reached.

A special thank you is reserved for Dr. St. Amant who gave us a 'bat-signal' to be able to reach him in the event of emergency. We found him at the first sign of fever and he was at the hospital within an hour or so--even though he wasn't on call and it was a Saturday night.

Crissie got loaded up with antibiotics and pain meds, while three teams worked on intubating and stabilizing Amelia, Elena, and Garrison. Our families stood by in the waiting room--my dad and brother, and Crissie's parents and sister, along with various other friends and loved ones.

Nurse Tracy took care of Lillian. She had the difficult duty of bathing and dressing her. Once Crissie was stabilized, she and I had an opportunity to hold Lillian's hand and say our good-byes, despite knowing that she was already in heaven. It was an emotional end to an emotional day and we appreciated the nurses who took such loving care of us by looking after her.

We got moved from our room in Labor and Delivery up to the part of the hospital known as "Mother/Baby." It was a much smaller room, and after nearly a month, we'd accumulated a lot of stuff. Most of that stuff got sent home with Crissie's parents. Dr. St. Amant helped us get rid of some of our remaining foodstuffs. Since we deprived him of his dinner, his preoperative meal consisted of peanuts from our "snack table."

Once settled into the new room for the dénouement, we were left with a few visitors, but mostly left to ourselves. It had been a day filled with the most intense emotions we'd ever experienced--fear, love, sadness, hope--we were exhausted. Not long after our last visitor left, we collapsed into what we'd hoped would be long, well-earned sleep...

It was not to be.  

The Wheelock Quads are Born (Part 2)

After falling asleep sometime after midnight, Crissie awoke around 3:30 in the morning with an intuition that something was wrong. Thirty minutes later, we got a phone call from the NICU asking permission to transfuse blood for Garrison. Of course, Crissie granted that permission without hesitation. We really didn't know what was going on with him at that point, and we certainly weren't thinking that a blood transfusion was out of the ordinary, but a 4am phone call from the NICU definitely had our already frazzled nerves on edge.

Thirty minutes later, we got a phone call from Phillip (the charge nurse in the NICU that night and a personal friend) that we needed to come down immediately. Considering that Crissie was eight hours removed from major surgery, still on a catheter, and had yet to be moved post-operatively in a wheelchair--this was a serious request. Though we wouldn't say it aloud, we were pretty sure they wouldn't call us down to the NICU unless there was dire need.

Much of the following was a blur because of our exhaustion, delerium, and (for Crissie) pain medications. But first, I need to back up a little bit...

When Garrison was delivered, he was bruised from head to toe. His membrane had ruptured and he had virtually no fluids in his sac at delivery, so the belief was that he had suffered external bruising as a result of the other membranes crashing down on him. Thus, Garrison's body was darker than we expected--it wasn't quite "black and blue," but it was close.

When we approached Garrison in Pod 8 of the NICU, he was being attended by as many as 6 or 7 different nurses, doctors, and therapists. His incubator was wide open and one nurse was doing chest compressions while another worked a breathing bag. He was being given epinephrine shots at a regular interval. It wasn't good.

The doctor in charge of Garrison explained that the infection that spiked Crissie's fever had attacked Garrison too. Having a ruptured membrane meant that he had very little defence against the infection. It wreaked havoc on his delicate lungs and cardiovascular system. He had crashed once already and they were able to bring him back, but from this last crash, he wasn't recovering. We were asked if we wanted them to continue, but the answer was already clearly written on the faces of everyone working on him. Garrison wasn't going to make it to his first sunrise.

I still don't know how long we stood there in silence watching everyone work. I do know that I felt my heart was literally being ripped in two--so much so that I thought was having a heart attack. Crissie sat and cried while I stood. We were completely devastated.

We continued to wait for a miracle that wouldn't come. They stopped chest compressions and he was shortly thereafter pronounced dead. He lived outside the womb for less than nine hours.

We were given a chance to bathe him. Crissie could only get up close enough in her wheelchair to rub lotion on his left arm and leg and I tried to help, but I was struggling to hold it together so I left it to the nurse. They dressed him and brought him to us so that we could spend a few quiet moments alone with him. We both held him and cried all the tears we had left. A priest came to baptize him. We finally left Garrison to check on Elena and Amelia (more on them later). We were led back to our room to collapse again in utter exhaustion. Heartbroken, overwhelmed, and afraid, we slept fitfully--wondering what the next phone call might bring.

We'll always wonder what kind of man Garrison would have grown up to be. We'll always wonder what kind of brother, son, or father he would have become. I can say with all honesty that we'd trade all of our worldly possessions to have him back. Everything... without question.

When Lillian passed, I was sure she was up in heaven, safe and sound, holding hands with my mom. I was so hopeful that it happened for a reason and that we would one day understand. With Garrison's passing, my hope is that they're all together and that Lillian will have a big brother to pass the time with until we can all be together again. It sounds nice to write that down--I just hope one day I find peace in believing that's how it works. Right now, there's no peace.

My faith has been shaken.

And, there's two other girls who still need us to believe in miracles.

The Wheelock Quads are Born (Part 3)

The NICU roller coaster begins.

We need to mourn our losses, but that time is not now. Now, we have to turn all of our attention to our two perfect little babies--Amelia and Elena.

For the most part, they are doing well. They're both on Vapotherm at the moment (which is a step down from CPAP--their noses are too small for CPAP!). They were both extubated (taken off the ventilator) rather quickly, and other than a short re-intubation of Amelia for an apnea, they're doing well with their breathing. Their oxygen saturations are in the mid to high 20s or low 30s. Room air is 21%, so this is pretty good.

The big news this week was that the PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus) in their hearts closed with medication and no surgery will be necessary. This meant that they could start with feedings. Mommy has been pumping away, so we're hoping our little ones will start packing on some weight before long.

As expected, Elena is the wild one. She came out kicking and screaming and she continues to do so today. We constantly catch her yanking on her feeding tube and she's squirmy for sure. She looks quiet in this picture, but don't be fooled.

She's blue because she's undergoing phototherapy for high bilirubin levels (jaundice)--pretty normal for preemies. She's the bigger baby for now, and her numbers have been pretty consistent despite the occasional bradycardia. She also cries when we bother her too much, though it sounds like the squeak of a mouse.

Amelia is our little calm baby. She just hangs out.

She's a little behind Elena on her breathing, but not much. She was the first to get off phototherapy--even though she eventually had to go back on. She seems perfectly at home in her isolette (incubator). We've heard some peeps out of her, but not much seems to bother her. She really likes it when I sing to her. I know because she told me--she's very smart.

In general, Crissie and I are doing okay. We definitely have our moments, but we're so thankful for our beautiful girls. We're home today, and walking into their bedroom with four beds was hard. Seeing all the embroidered baby boy gear in the closet was more than either of us could handle. We definitely planned to bring all four home, and looking back, we wouldn't have done it any different.

The doctors keep telling us that Crissie has to heal from her c-section before we focus on assisting with caring for the babies (her incision is infected, btw--just thought I'd mention that). Well, the truth is, we both have to heal from our emotional wounds before we can give all of hearts to Amelia and Elena. At times, we're depressed, we're angry, we're hopeless, we're inconsolable. Then we walk into the NICU and it all goes away when we're with our girls.

Our hope is that there will be a joyous homecoming for our girls in the months to come. But until then, we ride the roller coaster that is 'life in the NICU' and we deal with our emotional baggage in the space between.

Thoughts and prayers are still welcomed. The four of us all have a lot of healing to do, and a little peace would be a nice change too...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

News from Today's Ultrasound

Following a pretty tough weekend, we had a lot of lingering questions that remained unanswered. However, there was really only one question that we needed answered that would affect an outcome.

We still didn't really know whose water broke.

We assumed it was Lillian's. Seemed like a fair assumption and most of the doctors and nurses agreed. Certainly made sense at the time. We gotta' give Dr. Stedman credit where it's due, though. He was the only one who ventured a guess that ended up being correct--even though we weren't thrilled when he first postulated the notion.

Crissie's cervix is funneling and Garrison is at the bottom of the uterus. Think of it as a regular funnel with a water balloon in it. If you piled a few more water balloons on top of that first balloon, you'd basically have Crissie's uterus. The weak point from a pressure standpoint is Garrison's balloon at the point directly over that void above the cervix, or the open tip of the funnel cone.

So, that was Dr. Stedman's theory and the ultrasound today proved him right. Lillian's sac appears to still be intact (which is actually good news) and Garrison's is ruptured and continues to leak.

This isn't ideal, but it's not the end of the world either. It's been almost 6 days since the sac ruptured and the biggest threat was infection that usually strikes in the first 3 days. Crissie's been non-symptomatic and the babies' heartbeats have been looking really good. If we can avoid stuff like chorioamnionitis, there's hope that we can hang in there as long as Crissie and the kiddos continue to put up good numbers. Garrison continues to produce amniotic fluid and that fluid does continue to accumulate in his ruptured sac, but it also seeps out from time to time.

We're getting close to 26 weeks. This is an important time in their development. Certainly, there are plenty of healthy people walking this earth who've been born that prematurely, but we continue to fight for every day, every hour, every minute. We have to give them the best possible chance.

We're determined to bring all three home healthy.

Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. Please keep 'em coming...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Our little angel...

Where to begin...

During our ultrasound yesterday morning, we found out that our little flower, Lillian Brooks (baby D), lost her heartbeat. We believe she had passed sometime between Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Lillian had always been the smallest of the four--hence the name Lillian, or Lil'.

There was nothing that could have been done to save her. Even if we'd known her heartbeat was slowing, the doctors would have had to face the impossible decision of taking out all four babies at 24 weeks, 5 days and risking the lives of the three to save Lilly. Instead, Lillian went quietly to heaven. Her brother and sisters stand a better chance of survival now, but we miss her all the same.

Crissie and I continue to hold it together emotionally because we know the other three need us to do so. We know that Lillian's struggles in the womb likely mean there were other issues of concern for her. She's in a better place now. We pray that her spirit will watch over and protect her brother and sisters (and her Mommy and Daddy) as we still have a ways to go.

This morning at 4am, Crissie had a membrane rupture (water broke) and we think it was Lillian's amniotic sac. This is scary because we'd hoped Lillian's sac would have held together a good bit longer, thereby limiting the others' exposure to infections. The good news is that the others' fluid levels seem to be hanging on. As I write this, I am continuing to hear 3 healthy heartbeats on the monitors and one very exhausted mother is sleeping comfortably.

Other news from yesterday's ultrasound: Garrison (Baby A) is a big boy. He's measuring 1 pound 14oz. Elena and Amelia are 1 pound 8 oz and 1 pound 6 oz. The 50th percentile for 25 weeks is roughly 1 pound 8 oz (for what that's worth). So, one of the girls is still a little small, but well within the range of normal. Bad news: Crissie's losing ground in the battle for cervical length. Her cervix has only about 3 mm left. The doctors have started her back on Motrin to help her retain what she has and they are still hopeful that she can hold out for a good while longer.

Speaking of doctors...

Painful news is not an easy thing to report. We appreciated Dr. Veillon's bedside manner in telling us something yesterday that we really didn't want to hear. He was both thoughtful and professional which must be a difficult balance to achieve in tough situations.

A word about Dr. St. Amant. If I was a doctor myself, I'd like to think I would be like Dr. St. Amant (or try at any rate). He's definitely our kind of doctor. He communicates the issues in ways we're comfortable with and he gives us confidence about the scariest scenarios. He speaks to our desire for scientific rationalization and our need for compassionate understanding. These last 36 hours have completely sucked, no question. But, Dr. Veillon and Dr. St. Amant were fighting hard for us and with us--and for that, we are grateful.

I'll try to finish this on an up note (since it's taken all day for me to write this)...

This past Easter weekend, Crissie and I were treated to several visitors who took time out of their own Easter plans to check-in on us. We had food brought to us. We had an Easter Egg Hunt in the room (thanks to the Markeys for letting us borrow your kids!) We even had all the nurses come down from the nurses' station to share some of their Easter feast. It was a really fun day. We can't say enough about how much we appreciate our friends and family (and our new friends and family here in the hospital). They've meant more to us than they can possibly ever know.

Pray for us, pray for our three little fighters and our little angel in heaven. Twenty-five weeks tomorrow!

We'll miss you Lilly. You, who was closest to your mother's heart, will remain always and forever...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Week 24

So much to tell...

Yesterday, we got a visit from another quad-mommy and her quadruplets. That was pretty fun. Her little ones were all color-coded and strapped in to their quad-stroller. They were as cute as they could be. It's always so interesting to hear the perspectives of others who have been through this same adventure. We began corresponding as a result of reading each others' blogs. We definitely appreciated her and her mom taking time out to visit with us and it was so cool to meet her kiddos. Great kids. Great family. Good stuff.

Last night at midnight (after watching "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs"), Crissie got the first of two steroid shots designed to help stimulate lung development in preparation for premature delivery. Everything has gone pretty well today--she gets the second shot tonight. It's how doctors say: "Happy Easter!"

We're pretty settled in to our room here at the hospital. We have our food and our entertainment. Our nurses continue to be rock stars. Here's a look at our markboard in the room:

Hard to believe it's Easter already. Crissie's holding up really well. She's eating well. She gets showered regularly. She's even got these cool pneumatic massagers for her legs. She keeps busy on the computer or playing sudoku or facebooking with friends. Once a day, the nurses come and listen for heartbeats.

This is Angela and Tanyl checking out all the little heartbeats. It's fun to see when they try to find all four at the same time. I got to tour the part of the hospital where Crissie will have her c-section and where the babies will spend their first few moments of life. I took a video so that Crissie could feel like she'd come along. I had to get all dressed up as if it was "game day"...

I'm not sure why, but wearing those clothes made me feel like I needed to hold my hands that way... I looked like a cross between the lunch-lady and Dr. Evil!

Looking foward to week 25!

Monday, March 29, 2010

First days in the Hospital...

So far, so good...

It's been four days since Crissie was admitted to Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge for a shortened cervical length and suspicious uterine activity. We can honestly report that we're pretty pleased with the experience so far. Our nurses have been great. The doctors have been attentive. Hell, even the food has been pretty good (so I'm told). When I'm there, I feast mostly on Crissie's leftovers and snacks. When it comes to food, I'm kinda' like the family dog in the room.

Besides snacking, the other thing I like to do is play with all the medical equipment. I know I'm not supposed to, but I can't help it. I've been busted a couple of times using the pulse oximeter (apparently this activity can be observed from the nurse's station) and I've listened to my own heartbeat (among other things) with the pocket doppler more times than I can count. I've tinkered with other stuff, but in the event any of the nurses are reading this, I'll refrain from further self-incrimination...

We're having fun tracking the nurses' hours on our markboard in the room. Our hope is that whenever delivery time gets here, the nurses with the most hours can be there with us in the delivery room. If not, we'll find some other way to thank 'em. We can't say enough about how great they have been.

Crissie is off of IV fluids for the moment, which means she can hit the bathroom on her own. She was be-bopping along with less than 4 contractions-an-hour all weekend (roughly), until this morning when she had 8. The good news is that she's still not feeling them and she has been back to normal since. So, we're still feeling pretty good. The big milestone coming up is at 24 weeks. At that point, they can administer steroids to speed up the babies' lung development. No word yet on whether those steroids are going to keep Garrison out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I scored a cot on Saturday night which was totally clutch. It's not home, and it's not the Ritz-Carlton, but it'll do for now. It was pretty cool that we had a steady stream of visitors over the weekend. There were very few dull moments which definitely makes the time go faster...

Just trying to keep it light. Stay tuned...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Week 23

It's been an eventful week, filled with some unusual ups and downs.

Week 23 started with a great weekend. Crissie (despite her bedrest) was able to enjoy her baby shower which her hostesses planned beautifully at our home. She spent the day in her chair while she was lavished with gifts by her friends and family. After a week of bedrest at the house, I think she was really excited about some human contact. She definitely had an awesome time.

Meanwhile, my guy friends threw me a diaper/wipe party. Basically, we just sat around, drank, played beer pong and cornhole. I had to drink wine because I gave up beer/liquor for Lent, but that didn't hold me back too overly much! Then, when I went home, I had a lot more diapers and wipes than I'd started the day with. All in all, a nice little 'Man Day'--good job, dudes.

Fast forward to Thursday (yesterday, as I write this). We had a doctor's appointment with the MFM in Baton Rouge and what we'd hoped wouldn't be necessary became so. Dr. St. Amant basically told Crissie after he examined her that she wouldn't be going home. So now, she has been put on hospital bedrest. Her cervical length dropped from 3 cm a week ago, down to 1 cm and she's "funneling." (and we're not talking about the frat house right of passage, here.)

She was also having contractions (which she couldn't even feel) at a frequency the doctors weren't crazy about. So, now she's on Magnesium Sulfate which has effectively reduced the frequency of the contractions. This should help her cervix "hang in there" for the next several weeks so these kiddos can develop to a point the doctors are comfortable with. If all goes well, she'll be in the hospital (pregnant) for another 7 or 8 weeks. We've heard plenty of stories of multiple moms who were on Mag-Sulfate for a lot longer with good results, so we're optimistic.

So the bad news is: Crissie's in the hospital and will be for a long time. The good news is: there's no better place for her to be. Other good news: I'm really glad I didn't haul off and buy that mini-fridge for our bedroom right away. Further good news: so far, so good with all the nurses and staff at Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge. The first 24 hours have really been great--other than the convertible recliner that afforded me 3 hours sleep last night, but this ain't about me!

As usual, our friends and family have been incredible. We're so blessed. Despite the fact that we're going to be pretty uncomfortable for the next few months, we're confident it'll be totally worth it in the end!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Week 22

Well, bedrest has been formally recommended by Crissie's OB/GYN. So, after weeks of "light duty" and "just taking it easy," we finally get down to it... Crissie's on bedrest. As if being couped up in the house alone isn't bad enough, now she's got to worry about whether she's doing harm every time she goes to the bathroom. It's hard on her because she tends to be such a busy-body. As fun as bedrest may sound, one can only watch so much TV, read so many books, and play around on the internet for so long before it gets mindnumbingly boring--not to mention uncomfortable.

Crissie and I play this little game. The game basically goes like this: I try to get her to drink Ensure and eat protein bars, and she tries to come up with new and creative ways to foil my attempts. She's really good at it, and while I've had some minor victories, she's winning the war by a landslide. Generally, I try to find humorous ways to introduce the subject. I often find myself doing the "protein-bar dance" at the bedroom door, or I try to sneak up on her and switch her water for Ensure (like some sort of protein ninja). It all reminds me of my mom and dad. When my mom was sick, my dad would always make these mysterious protein concoctions that my mom abhorred. It was whey protein, oatmeal, various fruits, and other healthy stuff--but, it never looked overly appetizing. She swore he was trying to kill her with protein (kidding, of course). I suppose it's the only way we Wheelock's know how to play doctor...

Anyhow, not much to report, which is probably good. The babies are all progressing normally. Crissie's health is pretty good--all things considered. The nursery is taking shape. We've started accumulating hundreds of diapers--certain to last us about 10 days! The biggest thing these days is figuring out how to structure Crissie's life so she has to make the minimum number of movements. I suspect I'll be having to invest in one of those dormroom fridge/microwave combos for the bedroom soon...

Sheesh, the things we do for the ones we love...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

We have beds!!!

A nice Friday evening for a man and his allen wrench.

World's Greatest Supervisor

Very Suspicious Dog

Callie actually helping around our house.


The most fun we've had in a bedroom in many months.

Finished with bedding. Exciting!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Big Announcement!!!

We've settled on names for the babies!

Baby A is our little dude, so he'll be Garrison Thomas Wheelock. Garrison is Crissie's mom's maiden name and it's also a name in my mother's family. Thomas is a name in the Wheelock family that goes back a long way and has popped up many times. Little Garrison Thomas actually has a cousin in London named Thomas Wheelock. Crissie also had a great-grandfather named Irvin Thomas. UPDATE: Turns out there's some Thomas on my mom's side also in the Griggs family. Ironically enough, One of those Thomases married a Garrison. Yes, we are on "inbreeding high alert." (Props to Uncle John Griggs for pointing this out!)

For the girls, we're going to wait to see them before we give them their names, but we have chosen the names already, so...

Elena Marie Wheelock. Elena comes from the Wheelock side. My sister Christine's middle name is Elena and she got it from various ladies on my dad's side--my dad's first cousin Marie Elena for one. Marie is also Crissie's middle name and that comes from her great aunt Marie--her mom's aunt. UPDATE: Upon further consultation with my sister (Christine Elena), her name was designed as an homage to my dad's mother's name: Cristobelina. Christine Elena, got it.

Lillian Brooks Wheelock. Lillian hasn't much family significance, but it is the flower that is the heart of the symbol of King Louis XIV, France, New Orleans, and (most importantly) the Saints! The Lilly, or Fleur de Lis. She'll be our little Fleur de Whee. Brooks is Crissie's sister's middle name and comes from Crissie's dad's grandfather on his mother's side.

Amelia Frances Wheelock. Amelia is a name that Crissie's always liked. No family ties that we know. Frances is my mom's first name. She didn't use it--she was never a real fan of it, in fact. She went by her middle name, Diane. She probably would have preferred Frances to have been her middle name, so we're attempting some justice for history.

So, that's it for now. Check back soon!

20 Weeks Down, 10 Weeks to Go!

Week 20 means the half-way point in singleton pregnancies. But for us, it's more like two-thirds. The doctors really want her to make it to 30 weeks. We've got our own goal set at 32. Statistically, it's not likely, but goals should be set such that they're a challenge, right?

Last weekend, Crissie and I went to visit our friends, the MacMasters, in the hospital. Brittany and Kenny welcomed little Mason into the world in the same place where our little ones will (hopefully) be born. While we were there, we got an opportunity to take a tour of the NICU. Our crew will almost definitely have to spend some weeks in the NICU after they're born, so it was interesting to see where it would all go down.

We say "hopefully" because if Crissie has to go on hospital bed rest, her doctors are wanting to admit her in Baton Rouge. This would be a major pain in the butt. We're both hoping that won't happen.

Anyway, seeing the MacMasters go through their birthing experience juxtaposed with seeing preemies in the NICU was a pretty sharp reality check. Our experience will be like nothing to which we, nor any of our loved ones, can relate. For all of the "4 times this and 4 times that" cuteness, the reality of our four children in intensive care is more than a little unnerving. The staff at St. Tammany all seemed great though. We have no qualms with the people or the facility. They delivered a set of quads (that made it to 34 weeks) 3 years ago, and they've handled a bunch of triplets since. So, we feel like we're in good hands and it's less than 5 minutes away.

Crissie is still on light-duty bedrest. She is getting around, but is trying to spend the majority of her time on her butt. She's feeling lots of little movements and a few that I can actually feel on the outside. I gotta' say that, so far, that's the coolest freakin' thing I've experienced with this whole process. We had  lots of fun with that! We suspect it was baby C--she's got a heck of a leg. I'm thinking she'll be another Mia Hamm or Kathy Ireland in "Necessary Roughness."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How did this happen???

We've been directing more and more people to follow along with our journey on this blog, but the one question people keep asking is how this all started? Many of you know the back story of our adventures in trying to get pregnant, but for those that are more casual observers, here's the scoop. (Since most people get the whole "sperm meets egg" part, we'll skip to the relevant issue of how we got four embryos when most folks usually end up with one. For those who need a brush-up in the matter of "sperm meets egg" consult a biology textbook or a Marvin Gaye album)

Crissie and I had been actively engaged in the natural processes that generally yield pregnancies for quite a while--roughly 18 months--with no results. She'd been taking Clomid for about a year before the doctor recommended a fertility specialist. We went to see Dr. Lu in Mandeville who suggested some follicle stimulation (which is not nearly as much fun as it may sound). That entailed a daily shot of Follistim to stimulate growth, shots of Ganirelix to prevent premature ovulation, and finally an HCG (trigger) shot to force ovulation at the appropriate time.

We started our first cycle on this protocol and things were not progressing as the Dr. would have liked, so he sent us home to take the trigger shot, knock boots, and see what happens. He was not particularly optimistic that we wouldn't have to try again the next month. He was wrong. Crissie released some good eggs and my sperms got down to biz-ness. We don't really know how many eggs she released yet, but we know that we ended up with four little dots on the ultrasound 4 weeks later. For you techies out there, they are all in their own little bags in the womb--no shared quarters.

To review: No Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), no In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), yes follicle stimulation, yes bedroom happy-time. Nothing against IUI or IVF, of course--people just ask us all the time because they hear "quadruplet" and they automatically assume implanted fertilized eggs.

So, now you know the story of how the little ones got into Crissie's belly. For more on how they're going to get out, stay tuned!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

18 Weeks and Counting...


Since our last update, the greatest thing to happen around here since the Battle of New Orleans has transpired. The Saints won the Super Bowl! It still seems strange to write it. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the game, but Crissie's doctors weren't overly keen on the idea of her travelling and so she stayed behind. Although we were both pretty disappointed that we couldn't go together, we also both realized (once I got back) that it would have been really tough on her and the kiddos.

So, the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV (44) the same year we're having four babies. Nuts.

Mardi Gras followed closely behind the big win and (long story short), everybody around here is pretty worn out from 2 weeks of ridiculous partying. Even without much participation in the partying, we're worn out just from watching.

The big news on the baby-front is that we've gotten official confirmation on the sexes of the babies. Despite the early indications that we had at least 2 boys in the womb, turns out it was only 1! Three girls, one boy is the latest finding. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed that it wasn't 2 and 2--not because I didn't want girls versus boys, but because I wanted it to be balanced. Just seems like it would be easier for the lil' dude to have a brother to play with, but as long as everyone's healthy we continue to be super-blessed.

Other news of note: Crissie is home now on light-duty. Her last day at school was the Friday before Mardi Gras and she's been trying to take advantage of what little time she has before complete bed-rest begins in another couple of weeks. The doctors are really pleased with her progress. The babies are all at or above normal weights (1 girl @ 7 oz., 2 girls/1 boy @ 8 oz.) for this point in the pregnancy.

The mattresses are all spread out in the baby room. Beds should be in next week. Closet is filling up with little clothes and there's a pack-and-play in the living room (don't ask me why). It's starting to look like we're preparing for a house full of babies. We're past the reasonable half-way point now and we're both really looking forward to them finally being here... I know that sounds crazy, but we're just excited.

Crissie's doing well. She's feeling good right now, but she's stretched like someone pregnant with one baby at 33 weeks. I'm fine too (not that anyone cares).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Week 14

Second trimester is here!

We were looking forward to the second trimester for many reasons--foremost among those the subsidence of morning sickness. Unfortunately, we're still waiting. On top of occasional symptoms, she's dealing with the discomfort of being continuously stretched... and stretched... and stretched a little more.

One of the many neat things about multiples (and something that anybody with experience with multiples already knows) is that, because there's so many little people in there, the heartbeats have to be checked via ultrasound versus normal doppler. With a doppler and four heartbeats, all you'd hear is a jumbled mess. As a result, we get a lot of extra opportunities to see the munchkins on TV and we get a chance to speculate early as to the sexes of the little ones.

So, (drumroll please)...

Our ultrasound tech, Kristy, feels pretty comfortable that there are either: two boys, two girls; or three boys, one girl. Hopefully, we'll be able to know for sure in the next couple of weeks, but for now (like anyone) we're happy that they're healthy and progressing nicely. I know it's politically incorrect to hope for the babies to be a particular sex, but I don't think it's unnatural to hope for balance in the household. There's a real possibility that these might be the only kids we ever have and as such, we'd be especially blessed to have both sons and daughters--or some combination therein. I suspect that most expectant parents of higher order multiples would express similar sentiments.

So anyway, the beddings are bought. The glider's on order and the cribs are picked out. The closet is starting to fill up with tiny clothes and blankies that are ten times softer than any I remember from my own babyhood. It's all getting very real--which is to say, exciting. Meanwhile, we enjoy these few remaining weeks before bed rest officially starts. We have much to do, but we still have time and plenty of helpful loved ones to get us there. We continue to be thankful for our numerous blessings!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Introduction to our Blog

So this is the blogosphere...

Well, apparently this is the most logical place to post musings about life. Specifically, Crissie and I wish to use this as an on-line diary for friends and family who wish to follow the adventure of our most interesting news...

We're having quadruplets!

Yep, it's still weird to write it out and I've been coming to grips with it for more than 6 weeks now. As I write this, Crissie is two days shy of 12 weeks into her pregnancy. She's growing nicely despite her morning sickness and the doctors all seem really pleased with her progress.

Apart from the obvious shock: "Oh my God, I'm having four babies all at the same time!!!", there are so many hundreds of little things that most people (those who don't have multiple inbounds) never have to think about while pregnant. Each of those little 'Eureka' moments provide endless fodder for discussion between the wife and I. These discussions usually end with us nervously laughing and reassuring each other that "we'll be fine." Then we roll over and wonder if we're just kidding ourselves!

I've said this probably a hundred times since we started sharing the news, but I believe it, and I'm sticking with it: Our greatest blessing, in terms of our preparedness, is that we don't have any kids now and therefore, we won't know the difference. Four babies will just be normal to us and that's all we'll know.

People always want to know what our initial reactions were. I'm told that I was just smiling the whole time during the ultrasound. I remember being genuinely excited and happy. I wouldn't say I was scared. I knew I had a lot I needed to learn pretty quickly, but the internet and Consumer Reports could fix a lot of that. Crissie was initially pretty shocked, but soon our common excitement started to feed on each other. Now, I'd say we are in full-on planning mode, which suits us well.

Anyhow, our aim is to keep everyone updated via this blog, so I'm sure we'll have plenty more to share. Sincerest appreciation is due to the incredible outpouring of support and well-wishers. We continue to be so blessed to have such loving and thoughtful friends and family.

Stay tuned for our adventure!