One week old today

Time flies when you’re having fun!  The boys are already a week old now, and what a difference a week makes!  We went from a scary birth at 30 weeks, 5 days to a confident group of boys who are growing each day.

Jacob at 1-week-old
Jacob at 1-week-old

Jacob:  Jacob is doing the best of all the boys.  When he was born he measured in at 2lbs, 14oz, and he slid backwards a bit in weight for a few days after, but now he’s progressing the fastest.   He was the first to get off the CPAP machine, and now he’s the first to graduate from the vapor therapy machine.  He has no breathing tubes in place – just a feeding tube through his nose and an IV in his foot.  Today he graduated to 3lbs even, and he’s taking 15ml of breast milk every three hours.  The quantity is going up by 3ml every 12 hours now.  Today Kristen will attempt to start breastfeeding him.  We reasonably expect all IV’s to be out of him by this weekend, and maybe even the feeding tube.  So he’s doing fabulous for just under 32 weeks old.  One thing the doctors are watching is a heart murmur.  Essentially there’s an open vessel or valve that is used while in utero.  It normally closes at birth, but it’s just not closed yet.  They can hear it getting fainter the past few days, so everyone reasonably believes it will close.  If necessary he can go on some medication and surgery would be the worst case option.  I don’t think we’ll need to go there, though.

Charlie at 1 week.
Charlie at 1 week.

Charlie:  It’s not a competition, but he’s in second place now.  He graduated from the CPAP machine on Tuesday and we expect he may be off the vapor therapy machine (with nasal cannula) by this weekend.  He started at 2lbs, 9oz and after sliding backwards a bit himself, he’s now gaining weight and is up to 2lbs, 11oz.  He’s still in third place with his size, but he’s growing quickly.  He’s getting about 3 ml of breast milk every three hours, and he’s going up 3ml per day.  Charlie has also developed a heart murmur, just like Jacob.  Same exact situation.

Samuel at 1 week
Samuel at 1 week

Samuel: Samuel’s doing just fine, but he’s not doing as well as the other two.  He was slow to take some feedings because he had some sort of green gunk coming out of his lungs.  The doctors think it was just his intestines maturing, but he wasn’t able to properly digest the feedings they were giving him.  He’s now starting to digest better and the green gunk is all-but gone.  So he’s advancing now.

They tried to put a PICC line – or central catheter – into him a few times, but have had a horrible time doing it.  If he starts eating and digests normally, he won’t need the PICC line.  Since they’ve poked him a lot with needles, they’re now pausing to see how things progress without it.  Inserting a PICC is a specialized procedure done by a specialized nurse.  It’s dangerous enough that we had to sign a consent to do it.  Charlie has one, but his went in right away.  Jacob has had at least two other attempts, and both failed. His veins are just really tiny!

When Samuel was born he weighed 2lbs, 12oz, and he went up right away, then down and he’s been slowing coming back in weight.  We’ll see him gain good weight as his feedings grow.  At the one-week mark, Samuel is 2lbs, 13oz.  And today, like his brothers, doctors detected a heart murmur as well.  Same situation, so we’ll just watch it over the next week or so.  We expect it will go away.

Kristen:  Kristen is doing really well.  Her C-section is healing nicely and she’s almost off all her pain meds.  It will still be a few days to a week before she can drive on her own, but she’s almost back to “normal”.  She’s pumping breast milk furiously day and night – every two hours during the day and every four hours at night.  It’s tiring, but she’s doing wonderful in trying to produce enough milk for the boys.  She’s producing more and more each day, but I have to imagine we’re going to use some donor milk at some point.

I dropped her at the hospital early this morning so I could get a car seat inspection at the Danville Police Department, so she’ll spend the whole day with the boys.  (Good news is I installed everything correctly!)  I’ll work until mid-afternoon and then will go and visit, and finish up some work in the evening. If we leave early enough, we’ll stop at Whole Paycheck and get some steaks, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and fennel and onions for some good dinner on the grill.

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Time for Kristen to go home

Sunday December 13th was Kristen’s discharge date.  We stayed the day at the hospital and had a late checkout.  This gave us most of the day with the boys.  We’re both excited that we’re home in our own beds.  I’m excited to get off my makeshift bed in the back of the hospital room.  but leaving the boys “alone” was really, really, really tough and emotional.

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Todd’s chair bed in the back of the hospital room.

Kristen won’t be able to drive for about another week and a half.  Dr. Won told Kristen she knows she can drive when “you go sit in your car and slam on the brakes as hard as you can.  If you can’t feel it any discomfort or pain in your C-section area, you’re ready to drive again.”

I will drive Kristen to the hospital each day this week at noon, so I can be back at work in time for calls and other things I have to do.  If it’s just calls, I may work from the hospital or Panera Bread Company in Walnut Creek.  If I have other things to do, or need some really strong focus, I’ll just return home to get work done and then go see the babies after work.  Once Kristen can do her own driving, then I’ll go see the babies after work each day.

Overall she’s feeling OK.  Her pain is manageable with Percocet and Motrin every four-to-six hours or so.  We’ve rented a breast feeding pump for the house, so wake ups at 12am and 4am will be a regular thing for a while as we try and make as much food as possible for the babies.  She’s actually doing a great job producing milk for the babies.  The nurses and doctors are all happy with her production so far.

Jacob continues to do the best.  As of Monday he’ll be up to 12ml of food every three hours, while his IV goes down 1ml per day.  We expect he may be off the IV as early as this coming weekend.  Jacob is the biggest at 2lbs, 14oz as of Sunday morning.  He’s also the guy who’s opening his eyes the most to look at us.  I sat and held him for almost two hours on Sunday.  We talked about life, golf, how horrible the Miami Dolphins are and we listened to some music.  Congregation from the Foo Fighters was the first song he ever heard.  We also listened to some Beatles and some Journey.

Charlie is probably doing second-best at this point.  He’s still the smallest, but he gained an ounce to 2lbs, 10oz on Sunday.  Kristen’s been able to hold him a couple times now, including almost an hour on Sunday.  I hope to do my first hold with him on Monday evening.  He’s taking food regularly, and they got his PICC line in over the weekend.  It’s nice and stable, and that means they shouldn’t need to poke him with anymore needles until after his IV comes out.  They can inject things

Samuel’s not doing poorly, but he’s not moving at the same rate as his brothers.  He needs a PICC line installed, and they’ve had a rough time getting this done because his veins are so tiny.  He weighed 2lbs, 12oz on Sunday, so he’s lost a little weight.  He’s not getting regular feedings of milk due to some greenish fluid in his tummy.  The doctor’s aren’t too worried.  They just say his intestines aren’t quite ready for food.  We’ve held him a bit and he’s able to tolerate that.  Kristen held him for almost an hour on Sunday.

Life in the NICU; Kristen update

Shortly after the boys were born, they were taken immediately to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU.  John Muir Walnut Creek has a Level 3 NICU.  Only Oakland Children’s Hospital has a better unit – Level 4.  The level of care in a Level 3 is outstanding, and we’re fortunate to have such good care for our boys.

Each boy has their own room.  Jacob’s and Samuel’s rooms connect via a glass door that remains open all the time.  Charlie’s in the next room, but there’s nothing connecting him to his brothers’ rooms. Not a big deal, though as they’re all about the same distance from each other.

The nurses are absolutely phenomenal.  The neonatologists are outstanding too.  It’s worth calling out Emily, Laurie, Jane, Joy, Aimee, Ernest, Dr. Sandhu and Dr. Bennett.  I’m sure I’ve left out somebody.

Here are some pictures from the first several hours in the NICU.

 

Kristen Update

Meantime, Kristen is doing really well.  She’s been up and walking around, though there’s a little bit of pain.  But she was up and walking later in the day after the surgery.  Now she walks back and forth to the NICU without a wheel chair.  She feels lighter on her feet already.

Breast feeding won’t take place for a while, but she’s pumping now so the boys can get the milk via feeding tube to their stomach, and by swabbing a bit in their mouth with a cotton swab.  They find it tasty!  Jacob has had the most so far, and Friday night he had a few milliliters, or about just about 1/2 teaspoon.  He’s a big eater!

We’re set to be released from the hospital on Sunday, but I’m sure I’ll have another update before then.

Best. Day. Ever.

If for some reason you believe you had a better day than Kristen and I did yesterday, well, you’re misinformed.  On December 9, 2015, we welcomed our three baby boys.  Let me fill you in on how we got here.

In my previous post Tuesday night, we had visited Dr. Won and everything was going well.  Kristen had her steroid shot – Betamethizone – and we were due to go back to the doctor’s office for Steroid shot #2 24-hours later.  Betamethizone is one of those drugs that will prevent sleep, so Kristen decided for her comfort, and mine, she’d stay downstairs on the couch and try and get some sleep.  At least she had the TV she could watch if she couldn’t sleep, or she could use her iPad without disturbing me.  It was a winner idea for me, because I would get a full night of uninterrupted sleep.
Boy was that wrong.
I went to bed around 10:30 and Kristen went down to relax.  I was asleep quickly.  At about 11:45pm, I heard a periodic noise that sounded like a TV, or maybe a neighbor talking.  Then it suddenly hit me out of the blue that may be Kristen yelling for me.  I ran from the bed to the bedroom door, and yelled to her if she as yelling for me.  She screamed, “Yes!!!  My water broke!”
I scrambled downstairs and she was kind of stuck near the toilet.  If she tried to go too far, more water gushed out.  Her phone was in another room.  It turns out she was yelling for 10 times or so, slamming cabinet doors and doing anything to get my attention.
I won’t get into the details of the next few minutes, but we went into overdrive and raced, and eventually we ended in the car – me hyperventilating because I was running so fast and was so chaotic, and Kristen tremendously concerned.  We left Finley and Sophie downstairs, and figured an accident was going to happen with them.
Luckily in Danville, 12am means no traffic on the road.  We called Dr. Won as we were leaving, and a couple miles later we had her on the phone.  She instructed we go to the hospital and Kristen thought Dr. Won would only call in orders.  She wasn’t coming in that night.

John Muir Hospital Walnut Creek

We arrived in about 20 minutes and immediately went to the third floor to get admitted.  They were there waiting for us and we got the paperwork out of the way quickly.  We went into the room they had waiting and started the admitting procedures.  Our nurse said that Dr. Won WAS on her way in and she’d see us soon.  Kristen really wasn’t having painful contractions at this point.
Dr. Won arrived within a half hour and said she was going to put Kristen on some antibiotics to help keep infection away.  That was her chief concern at this point.  She also wanted us to get past the next Betazmethisone shot later that day, and then we’d see where things were. She did an ultrasound and said both A and B’s water had broke, but she wasn’t panicked, so she went on her way.   She said there’d be no issue with me going home to collect some things so we’d be comfortable the next few days before the babies arrived.  I left about 1:45am.
I arrived back at the hospital at 3:15am, and you would have thought I was moving in.  Two suitcases, two pillows, a suit for me, nice shoes and my backpack filled with gadgets, power plugs, etc.  I was pretty exhausted, so I told Kristen it’s time to get to sleep.  BUT….she said she was now getting contractions and they were more painful than any she had before.  Still, it didn’t look like she was in a lot of pain.
Our nurse overheard us and assessed the pain, and said she was going to go call Dr. Won.  A few minutes later she reappeared and said Dr. Won asked her to do a cervix exam.  Yada, yada, yada, Kristen’s cervix was ~4cm dilated, and the nurse said, “Dr. Won is going to come in.  You’re having these babies tonight!”

C-section

The nurse immediately began prepping everything for the babies, and Kristen and I looked at each other with amazement and shock.  They were coming TONIGHT!
Since it was coming up to 3:30am, they had to call a large number of people in, including three separate teams – one for each baby.  I had to wear my Walter White suit, as I called it, and then they told me to standby while they took Kristen away.  I called all sorts of family and woke people up – even on the East Coast and my mother in Costa Rica.
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I snapped a selfie while waiting to be taken into the OR for the surgery.
At about 4:20am they came to get me.  Everything was ready.  They told me that when Baby A was ready, I would go with him and cut his umbilical cord, and then do the same for B & C.  Then I would go to the NICU with them while they finished Kristen’s surgery.
I was the last person to arrive for this party, and there were about 20 people in this smallish operating room about 20 feet away from our room. I remember saying somewhat out loud, “Oh my God, thank you everybody for helping us.”  Kristen had a big sheet near her face so she couldn’t see what was going on, and everyone was waiting for these babies’ arrival
I sat down and talked with Kristen, but it wasn’t clear what would happen and when.  They had previously said the C-section would take about an hour.  So I settled in.  I could see Kristen moving around a bit as she was being shaken.  I watched the anisthesiologist  do his thing, and we could hear the doctor’s, nurses, neonatologists and others waiting.  Then there was an audible gasp as Baby A came out.  They gave it to one of the neonatologists, Dr. Bennett, and she showed him to me briefly while he was whisked away to another room.  Kristen couldn’t see him and I wasn’t sure if I should go or stay.  I figured I should stay until they told me to go.
About this time, Kristen started to shake pretty uncontrollably, almost like she was shivering cold.  The anesthesiologist got her some blankets on her arms to make her more comfortable, but that didn’t seem to work.
Then came Baby B, and came a cry.  I went from excitement to sheer happiness.  That is a cry I will never, ever forget.  I absolutely lost it and cried uncontrollably myself in the operating room.  One of the nurses came over to give me a hug.  Then Baby C came out and he cried too.  3/4 of the Mazza boys shared a good cry in the delivery room.
They came and took me to see Baby A, and I got to cut the cord while Dr. Bennett snapped some photos.  I really was in a daze and was really trying to take it all in as fast as it was happening.
After I cut the cord, I went to Baby B, but he wasn’t ready, so then it was on to Baby C.  One of the other neonatologists, Dr. Sandhu, explained what was going on and reassured me they were all looking good.  I just started snapping pictures.

The nurses then took Baby A to the NICU, but I stayed back with the other boys.  I figured I’d go with one of them and see how the rest of the surgery was going.  It now hit me that taking the babies was the easy part.  Putting Kristen back together again was the hard part.

The nurses were ready to take Baby B to the NICU, and I thought I’d go with him.  They first showed him to Kristen while she was still under surgery.  I tried to get a good picture over the curtain, but this is all I could get.  I still think it’s a darn good picture.

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Next, it’s on to the NICU!  I’ll have more in my next post.  I’m too exhausted right now.

We have a delivery date!

Kristen and I went to see Dr. Won today for our normal Tuesday checkup.  Today we took growth measurements, and also did the usual cervix exam.

The boys are growing!  Today’s measurements are as follows:

  • Baby A: Heartbeat: 140 bpm, 3lbs, 8oz.
  • Baby B: Heartbeat: 138 bpm, 3lbs, 7oz.
  • Baby C: Heartbeat: 140 bpm, 3lbs, 3oz.

That means there’s more than 10 pounds of babies inside Kristen right now!  Wow!

Here are today’s profile shots.  We got better images of Baby A, but not good enough to get a profile shot:

KM_0003-WMKM_0004-WM

Kristen’s cervix is remaining pretty stable at 1.3cm.  That’s awesome for this stage.  Dr. Won gave Kristen the first shot of the second batch of Betamethizone, which is a steroid used to help the babies’ lungs develop faster in the event of an early delivery.  We have to go back for a second shot on Wednesday.   These are typically most effective if birth takes place within 48 hours and 7 days of when the shot was given.  We hope we can go a lot longer than that before they’re born, but who knows!  We’re doing it now to hedge on the fact we can get it done, versus waiting for Kristen to go into labor and not being able to give this steroid.

We also have a C-section scheduled now.  It’s Friday, January 15, 2016 at 3:45pm.  We don’t know if we’ll get that far, but if we do, the babies are coming out that day.  Our doctor doesn’t think we’ll get to that date, and we don’t think so either.  If we do, though, yay for huge babies!