Friday, April 30, 2010

Camdyn's on CPAP!

Cade has had a rough day today. They are weaning him off the Fentanyl (sedation drug). Since he has been on Fentanyl as well as other pain medication for so long, he is actually having withdrawals now that they are weaning him. I feel so bad for him. He looks so uncomfortable. He'll move all around and then his heart rate goes up and he desats. He comes through the spells on his own, but it is just so hard to watch. I almost want to say, "Just give him more drugs; he is in pain," but I know that he needs to get off the medications in order to get better. He has been able to keep his oxygen at 50%.

Camdyn, on the other hand, has had a great day today. Jimmy called me this morning after he called the NICU to let me know the good news. Camdyn was moved off the ventilator and on to CPAP! I was so excited! That is a big step. We have been told she may have to go back on the ventilator if she gets fatigued on the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). She has done great with it all day though. I think she kind of surprised her nurse by doing so well and being so tiny. The CPAP is a little mask that goes over her nose, so her breathing tube is out. I am sure she is happy about that. This looks a lot more comfortable than a breathing tube. I am so proud of my little girl and hope that my sweet boy will be on CPAP soon too.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

crazy morning

This morning Cade decided he was going to try to be a big boy. He pulled his breathing tube out on his own. The doctor decided to go ahead and try him on CPAP. He tried that for about 1 hour, but his oxygen levels were again at 100%. They put him back on the ventilator, and he was able to get back down to 50% oxygen. So, despite him thinking he was a big boy, he really is just not ready to get off the ventilator yet. But, hopefully he'll be ready soon.

When all this was happening, Camdyn decided she needed to act up too. It's a twin thing, I guess. Her oxygen levels went up to 60%; they haven't been that high in a long time.

They both were doing much better by the afternoon when we visited, and they are doing even better now. Camdyn is in the 30s, and Cade is in the 40s on their oxygen. They have been doing great with their feedings. She now gets 10 mL, and he gets 11 mL. Both of them have done great with the fortifiers and iron, so the plan is to start the second fortifier pack tomorrow. The doctor explained to me that each oz. of breast milk gives approximately 20 calories. Each pack adds 2 calories, so with the 2 packs added to the breastmilk, each oz. gives approximately 24 calories.

Camdyn has reached the first weight gain goal that I have set for her! She has reached her brother's birth weight of 1.8 lbs! That's quite a bit since she was down to 1 lb. at one point. Cade is now at 1.14 lbs. His weight of 1.15 earlier was due to fluid retention, but now the fluids have been lowered. So, the 1.14 is actual weight. He is working on the first goal of 2 lbs that I have set for him. They both look so much bigger than they did at birth even though they are still very tiny.

Thank you God for allowing my babies to grow and progress. I ask that you strengthen their lungs. I am so thankful that they are feeding well and gaining weight. Continue to guide the medical team who have been taking such good care of them. Give Cade and Camdyn comfort as they fight to grow stronger everyday. Amen.

You know you are a NICU parent when:

This isn't an update about the babies; I'm just posting this for fun. We've already been at the NICU so long we feel like veterans, and we still have a long way to go.

You know you are a NICU parent when:

- your skin is completely dried out from scrubbing in daily
- you can hear the beeps of the monitors in your head when you leave
- you know the names of all the nurses, doctors, and front desk staff (and how many kids they have!)
- you call the NICU countless times a day and night
- the front desk no longer asks to see your hospital bracelet to be admitted; they just know you
- you have spent time hanging out in the Ronald McDonald room
- you know all about things you never knew before - i.e. IVH, PDA ligations, Fentanyl, fortifiers, PICC lines, IV lines, arterial lines, O2 levels, etc., etc., etc.
- you get scared every time your phone rings
- you get a collection (not just one) of the children's books they hand out each month - We'll have a library by the time our kids get home.
- you've been visited by every doctor on staff, both NICU coordinators, and the financial assistance advisor
- the nurses have become attached to your babies because they have been there so long

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


This is a picture of Camdyn in her favorite position on her tummy. I put a newborn diaper next to her to show just how tiny and precious she is. See the photo below that compares a newborn diaper to the one she is wearing. The nurses have to fold their diapers in half to make them fit.

Here's a picture of their diapers. On the right, is a regular newborn sized diaper. That is about the size of your hand. On the left is their diapers. The middle one is the size between "micro-preemie" and "newborn". Cade is almost to the middle size.

Below is a picture of Cade's foot in my hand. His foot is bigger than Camdyn's, but I can never get a picture of her foot because her feet are always tucked under her since she likes being on her belly.

Cade's cute toes.

3 Weeks Old

I'm late posting this, but the babies were 3 weeks old yesterday! They are both doing pretty well, but, of course, still having their ups and downs. Both are pretty stable. Cade usually requires more oxygen, but I just called tonight, and he was actually lower than Camdyn on his oxygen at 42%. I think that's the first time he has been lower than her. She was at 55%. The nurses turned Camdyn on to her side, and she only likes being on her belly, so that's why her oxygen has gone up. They have to turn the babies different ways so they don't get bed sores, but she just doesn't like being any other way. When I called, they had flipped her back onto her tummy. The last few days she has been between 24-35% oxygen. Cade has been anywhere from 50-75%, but today he was mostly in the low 50s. So, I feel like we are making progress, albeit slow progress. I am thankful that we have not had any major setbacks.

Both babies are tolerating their feeds along with the fortifier well. The doctors have added iron as well today. Hopefully, this will help their blood counts so they won't need as many blood transfusions. They are also both receiving a medicine that helps their respiratory system develop. They will receive a second fortifier pack added to their milk soon to add even more calories. The doctors wanted to see how they would do with the first pack, and so far, so good.

The doctor yesterday told us that Camdyn would soon be ready to try to be off the oscillating ventilator and go either to a conventional ventilator or CPAP. This is a big step in the right direction. she would possibly go back onto one of the ventilators for a while if the CPAP isn't working for her. The doctors have told us that sometimes they just get too tired and have to go back on the ventilators for a while. Cade will not be ready until he gets off the antibiotic and stays more consistent and lower with his oxygen needs, but I believe he is getting there - slowly, but surely.

Although it seems like just yesterday that I went into unexpected labor, each day feels like an eternity. Time is moving fast and slow at the same time which I know seems paradoxical. I suppose paradoxes are the norm in this situation. What should have been one of the happiest days of my life was also the most traumatic days of my life.

But - we are here and this is what we have to deal with. We are thankful that the babies are doing as well as they are, and we will contine to pray for their health and growth.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

slowly growing

So, both Cade and Camdyn had good days today and yesterday. They haven't changed too much on their oxygen needs, but their ventilator settings have gone down a little. We are thankful that they haven't had any setbacks lately.

Cade still hasn't reached the 2 lb. mark yet. I thought he was going to last night, but he actually went down just a little to 1 lb 14.3 oz which the nurses said was no big deal. His feedings have been increased to 10 mL, so I am hopeful again that he will reach that 2 lb mark when they weigh him tonight. Camdyn gained some weight! My tiny sweet girl now weighs 1 lb. 7 oz. My goal for her is to reach her brother's birth weight of 1 lb. 8 oz., so she is almost there too. Her feedings have gone up to 8 mL. It is so exciting when they gain an ounce. Tomorrow they will start getting human milk fortifier along with the breast milk. This gives them extra calories and vitamins. They have been tolerating their feedings well, so they get to graduate to the next step. The doctor told us that some babies don't do so well tolerating the fortifier, but they really need it. If they don't tolerate it, they will go back to just breast milk and try again in a few days. I am hopeful they will take it well because it will really help their growth.

Cade is still on the antibiotics for the infection. He does have to get another lumbar puncture to test for other infections since he had an infection. That will happen tonight or tomorrow. I feel bad for him because I don't want him to get poked again. It's like getting a spinal. My poor sweet baby. He is going to be one tough cookie when all this is over. His pain tolerance should be very high (unlike his mother). They have lowered his Fentanyl (sedation drug), and he is doing well with that. So, he is making slow progress.

Camdyn is still doing great. She isn't on any antibiotics or sedation drugs. She is pretty much just laying there looking sweet and cute.

Both of my babies are now looking at us a lot when we talk to them. It is the sweetest thing. Their eyes follow where the sound is coming from, and it takes them a while to figure it out. It is so cute. And, I've been able to touch them more lately since they are both stable. I still long to hold them even though I understand that they are not ready to be held yet. Can any of you moms imagine not being able to hold your baby for 3 weeks and still not knowing how much longer it will be before you can hold them? It's definitely not easy and sometimes I have the thought "this is just not fair", but I do know that when I do get to hold them, it will be one of the most wonderful moments in my life. I also look forward to just hearing them cry. They are definitely proving to be my little miracle babies!

I am so thankful that they are doing well and continuing to grow. I pray for continued growth, and I pray they will be able to tolerate their feedings along with the fortifier. I pray for their lungs to develop well. And, I pray that there are no changes on their brain scans in a week. I pray that they will be off the ventilators soon. I ask God to continue to bless them and make them stronger. Amen.

Friday, April 23, 2010

a stable day

Both Cade and Camdyn had stable days today. Not too much has changed today. They haven't really made progress today, but at least, there were no setbacks either. I like when their nurses are bored for the day. Cade did gain weight though. He now weighs 1 lb 15 oz. He's almost at 2 lbs! I'm hoping he has gained that extra ounce today or gains it tonight. They measure them in the early morning. Camdyn lost 1 oz., but the nurses say that is no big deal. Her nurse told me today, "Well, she doesn't know she's little, so let's not tell her." I thought that was so cute because she really does think she is big. She has been doing great with her 1 lb. 4 oz. self. And, both babies have been increased to 6 mL of milk and are tolerating it well. They really just need time to grow.

Bridget asked me to post the following on here:

"Some of you have asked for an online donation option, so here it is . . .
We are now accepting gifts for Cade and Camdyn via paypal

To make an online gift, simply visit the e-mail above and select send money via e-mail.
Their e-mail address is
Thanks so much for your support."

I have to thank Bridget again for all she is doing for me. She has really stepped in to do all sorts of things for me that I just wasn't ready to do. She's been keeping my studio running along with the wonderful help of the teachers and front desk staff (thank you all too!) And, she has organized the fundraiser and this online donation for Cade and Camdyn along with all of my amazing friends who have donated generous prizes for the raffle (thank you all again too!)

Sis - I really do appreciate all you are doing for me. You are the greatest, and I love you!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

rough day/good night

We started out with another rough day. My sweet baby boy, Cade, was having more problems this morning. He had developed an air pocket in his lung. They went in with a catheter to drain the air pocket. The doctor adjusted the settings on his ventilator to hopefully reduce the strain on his lungs to prevent any more air pockets from developing. Due to the ventilator changes, he was at 100% oxygen again for a while. Most of the morning and early afternoon he was in the 70s on his oxygen.

Despite the rough morning, we do have good news. Cade is now doing much better. His x-rays have not shown any more air pockets. He has been at 40% oxygen since this afternoon and is still there now. The blood culture taken this morning shows that the antibiotics are working to treat his infection too. Camdyn has remained stable all day; she has been around 25-40% oxygen. They have taken her off Fentanyl which is a sedation drug. It is used to keep them calm so they don't exert too much energy and cause their oxygen needs, heart rate, blood pressure, etc. to go up. She has been doing very well maintaining her vital signs without the Fentanyl. Cade is still on it because of the procedure he had done today.

Both babies are not requiring humidity in their isolettes anymore. They are both tolerating their feedings well, and their feedings have been increased. She now gets 5 mL, and he gets 4 mL. They are going to raise his more soon, but with all he had going on today, they left his at 4 mL. Both have gained weight! Camdyn now weighs 1 lb 5 oz, and Cade weighs 1 lb 13 oz. So, she is up 3 oz, and he is up 4 oz from their birth weights. Cade is almost at 2 lbs! Who would have thought parents would be excited about their babies reaching 2 lbs?

Thank you all who are following this blog and supporting us all with your prayers. So many of you have shared stories of people you know who have been through a similar situation and have come out with great results. I have faith that our babies too will be a success story. The power of prayer is really amazing. I am amazed at how many people I don't even know are following our story and praying for us even though they don't know us. May God bless our babies and all of you too who are keeping us in your prayers. Amen.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Twins Update

Cade is having a bit rougher time than Camdyn. He is between 50-60% oxygen which is still better than the 70-100% that he had been at. Hopefully, he will be able to wean more soon. He does now have an infection which they are treating with antibiotics. I feel so bad for him. He already has to fight just to breathe and grow, and now his little body has to fight an infection too. He is on 2 antibiotics now, and when they are able to determine the exact infection, they may change the antibiotic. So, hopefully, he will be over this soon. My sweet babies have already had to go through more treatments, surgeries, therapies, IVs, blood transfusions, etc. in their 2 short weeks than I probably have had in my life.

Camdyn has been doing just great these past few days. She has been between 24-30% oxygen. I am so amazed at how well she is doing at just 1 lb 3 oz. (The other weight they had on her of 1.5 lbs was an inaccurate measurement, but she is still 1 oz. more than her birth weight.)

Jimmy and I are beginning to adapt to our new "normal". We go to the hospital every evening when Jimmy gets off work. I try to go during the day too. It's, of course, still really hard every evening when we have to leave them. I know that they are in great hands though. I usually call throughout the night to check on them when I have to get up to pump. I look forward to watching them progress and grow stronger each day. I can't wait to hold them. I know that is going to be the most wonderful experience.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Benefit Raffle for Cade and Camdyn

Bridget has organized a benefit raffle for Cade and Camdyn along with the generous help from my friends. We are so appreciative of all the help. It is one less thing to worry about. We are so thankful for the great support system we have through our family and friends. Everyone has been so helpful and generous. It helps to know that we are not going through this alone.

The tickets are $10 each, and there are some really great prizes. Here's a list of prizes and who donated the prizes:

Grand Prize:
One week stay at Vista Villas on Lake Travis - (Bridget Brandt, $650 value)

More Prizes:
$200 Gift Certificate - (Trendz Salon - Austin, TX, Mindy Davis)
Coach purse - (The Carter/Salazer family)
$25 Exxon card - (Exxon - La Grange, Jason McBroom)
Klutz Activity Books, $100 value - (Busy B- La Grange, Holly Bargas)
Cross - (Bargas Landscaping - La Grange, Louis and Vicky Bargas)
(2) $100 Visa Gift Cards - (Kelee and Chad Payton)
One share of Disney stock - (Kelee and Chad Payton)
$50 Chili's gift card - (Sarah and Richard Carey)

The tickets will be for sale at Center Stage in Leander and The Hair Shop in La Grange. If you would like to sell tickets at your business location, please e-mail Bridget at You can also e-mail her about buying tickets. I think she is setting up an online payment.

I want to thank my sister and all of my friends who have organized this and gave such generous prizes. It means so much to our family. You all have been so supportive. I love you all! Thank you so much!

Monday, April 19, 2010

2 Weeks Old


The babies are 2 weeks old now. And, they finally both had good days. What a relief! I think this is the first day in 2 weeks that I haven't cried. That's progress for me and the babies.

Both Camdyn and Cade stayed around 40-50% oxygen today and have remained at that so far tonight. I just called the NICU to check on them. Camdyn's lung appears to be getting better on the last X-ray. She hasn't been weighed lately. Her last weight was 1 lb. 5 oz. Cade was just weighed tonight, and he has gained even more weight! He now weighs a whopping 1 lb. 12 oz. I am so excited about that. He is creeping up to the 2 lb. mark. They might almost start to fit in their tiny hats and tiny diapers soon. Their diapers are smaller than baby doll diapers, and the nurses have to fold the front in half. I am going to take a picture of their diapers compared to a regular newborn diaper so you all can see just how small they are. It really is unbelievable. Both babies are now receiving 2 mL, up from 1, every 3 hours, and they have been digesting that well.

So, I'm going to bed soon and think I might actually be able to sleep well tonight (at least for the few hours between pumping). But, I'll enjoy sleeping without worrying excessively for the first night in 2 weeks.

I almost forgot - both babies now have their eyes open! I first saw Camdyn's eyes open on the bad night when we rushed up to the NICU because Cade was at 100% oxygen. That was on April 17. I saw Cade's eyes open the next day on April 18. It is so amazing to see their tiny eyes open. It's the sweetest thing. They open them for a little bit and try to look around. I think they are trying to figure out where they are and wonder why they aren't still in mommy's tummy. I love that they open their eyes when they hear me talking to them. I believe they know it's mommy, and I just love it. They were opening their eyes quite a bit today.

God, I thank you for the good day that Camdyn and Cade had today and ask for more good days and nights and even better days and nights to come. I thank you for their weight gain and success on feeding. I can truly see the miracle they are when they open their sweet eyes and look at me. Thank you for watching over my babies and helping them make progress. Amen.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Twin Rivalry


So, I think our twins are already having sibling rivalry. Last night, Cade had a very rough night, and then, today Camdyn decided she needed the attention.

Cade was back up to 100% oxygen needs last night. Jimmy and I decided we needed to go up to the hospital last night at 1:00 AM. They weren't able to get his oxygen down. We arrived at 1:30 AM. It was very hard watching him struggle. At one point, they had to bag him which means they had to use the air pump bag to breathe for him. They then raised the settings on his ventilator and he was able to slowly come down on his oxygen. It's so scary to sit there watching your baby struggle to breathe and not be able to do anything for him. All you can do is sit there and pray really hard and have faith that God will give the doctors the wisdom to help him. Luckily, he was able to come down on his oxygen needs. We finally left the hospital at 4:30 AM and got home at 5:00 AM. We finally went to sleep for the night at 5:00 AM. As you can imagine, we are very tired.

Today, Cade was doing much, much better. His oxygen needs were around 45-55%. So, he has been doing great today.

But, Camdyn decided she needed some attention today. X-rays showed that her right lung had again collapsed, so her oxygen needs went up to 90%. They just did respiratory therapy, and now her needs are dropping and she seems to be doing better. They are going to keep trying to wean her tonight. It appears that her lung has opened back up, but they are waiting to do an X-ray until later. They try to only do X-rays when they really need them. So, we are happy to see that it looks like things are going in the right direction for her.

All the doctors we have talked to have told us to expect several ups and downs, but it does not get any easier. If we aren't worrying about one, then we are worrying about the other one. And, although much of this is expected for babies as little as ours that doesn't make it any easier to handle when it is your baby. So, we will continue to pray for strength for our babies and strength for us to get through this.

On the good side, both babies are now feeding and digesting well. They both have gone up from getting .2 ml to .5 ml to .6 ml to now 1 ml every 3 hours. This is a big step even though we have been told they may have to stop and start feedings. They have each gained a little weight which is great. Cade was born at 1 lb 8 oz. He dropped to 1 lb 6 oz after birth. He is now at 1 lb 9 oz. Camdyn was born at 1 lb 2 oz. She dropped to 1 lb after birth. She is now at 1 lb 4 oz. So, both babies now weigh a little more than they did at birth. We pray for continued success on the feedings and continued weight gain. As they gain weight, their lungs will get stronger, and we really need that.

God, we pray for a good night for our sweet babies. Allow them to gain strength and to be able to lower their oxygen needs. We pray for continued success on their feedings and more weight gain. Comfort them as they fight through these challenges. We ask you to give us strength and faith as we face these challenges along with them. In your name we pray - Amen.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Here's a picture of Brenna shortly before I gave birth to the twins. She has been adjusting to all the changes remarkably well. She has had no problem adjusting to the new house. She loves her new room. As far as the babies, I think she believes that this is how all babies come into the world. They grow in mommy's tummy for a while and then they live at the hospital for a while. I think she also believes that everyone has 2 babies. Although it's hard to balance our time between taking care of Brenna and being at the hospital, she makes this all easier in a way. We still have to be "normal" and be mommy and daddy for her.

Above is a picture of Camdyn's tiny arm and hand. She really doesn't have any fat on her yet, but we are looking forward to seeing her grow.

This is a picture of me holding Camdyn's tiny foot. I just love her sweet toes. They are so adorable.

This is a picture of Cade's "big" foot. His feet and hands look big in comparison to his tiny body. Although he only weighs about 7 ounces more than his sister, he looks much bigger.

Here's a picture of Jimmy holding Cade's hand. I think they have the same fingers and toes. I just love this picture; I think it is so sweet.

This picture was taken one week before I gave birth. Bridget took this picture for me after church. I had no idea that it would be my last pregnancy picture. It was supposed to be my approximate 6 month picture. When I look at this, I think there is no way that I look big enough to deliver twins!

bitter but trying to be positive


I am really not a bitter person. In fact, I am normally a pretty positive person.

I am bitter when:
- I see pregnant women - I think I should still be like that. My babies should still be inside of me. - I see people taking their babies home from the hospital - My babies have to live away from me for the first 4 months of their lives. And, although I know they need to be there and are receiving the best care, it's still really hard. I miss them and think about them all the time.
- I think about the fact that Jimmy only felt them kick about two times before they were born.
- I see all the maternity clothes in my closet that I haven't even worn yet.
- I see all the "giant" babies in the regular nursery. They all look so big and healthy, and I just want my babies to grow so badly. And, I know they will and I have to be patient, but it's so hard to see them struggling.
- I think about the fact that I never had a chance to take maternity pictures with this pregnancy.
- I look around the NICU and see other parents at least getting to hold their babies or give them a bottle. I know the time will come, but I just long to be able to hold them.
- I have to ask the nurses if it is okay to touch my babies' fingers. There are only certain times that they can be touched. I know it's best for them, but again, it is still very hard.
- I hear other babies cry in the NICU. My babies have breathing tubes so they aren't able to cry. I have never even heard them cry. Most people hear their babies cry right after birth. It has been 13 days now, and I still haven't heard them cry.

Now that I have all of that off my chest, let me try to be the positive person that I really am.

So, here are things that I am thankful for:
- God blessed me with a beautiful, healthy daughter, Brenna, and two beautiful twins, Camdyn and Cade.
- a wonderful husband
- loving, supportive family and friends
- I am thankful that my babies are stable and have both started feedings. In fact, their feeding amount is going up this afternoon which is progress.
- I am thankful that their PDA valve surgeries went well.
- I am thankful for advances in medicine and technology that have allowed my babies to have the support and care they need.
- I am thankful that Cade only had a grade one head bleed which has stopped and Camdyn has not had one at all.
- I am thankful that we were offered a place to call home during all of this and that we will have a new home soon.
- I look forward to the coming weeks/months when I will be able to see my babies eyes, see them off of the ventilators, hold them, feed them, rock them, and watch them grow.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Roller Coaster Day


Wow - Today has been a roller coaster. So much has happened in one day that I feel like this day has gone on forever.

First, we closed on the sale of our house today. This should be an exciting event, but I was so worried about my babies that I really didn't get excited about this at all. The whole time during closing I was just thinking give me the papers so I can sign them and get out of here. I hate to sound ungrateful. I feel very fortunate that our house sold so quickly, and it's great that we don't have to worry about that anymore. But, my mind was preoccupied with going to see my babies.

After closing, Jim and I went to the hospital. He stayed for a while, but then he had to go back to work. I stayed with Camdyn and Cade all afternoon until the NICU closed for shift change. I was so worried all day because neither one of them was doing too great. Camdyn's right lung was still not open all the way, and her left lung looked "hazy" after the x-ray. Her oxygen levels were between 70-80%. Cade was needing a lot more help; his oxygen levels were between 90-100%. So, I was very worried for both of them. The nurses and doctor told me that this was to be expected as they recovered, but when it's your babies, everything is much scarier.

By the time Jimmy and Bridget came up to the hospital around 6 PM, Camdyn's lungs were both open, and her oxygen needs dropped slightly to 70-80%. Cade was still at 100% oxygen. It was hard to leave the NICU knowing that they both were still struggling.

At around 9 PM, we called the NICU to check on them. They decided to turn Cade over onto his tummy. He must have liked this because his oxygen needs dropped significantly from 100% need to 68% need. Camdyn's was also dropping slowly from 80% need to 70% need. I was beginning to feel better and to believe they were going to have a better night.

Well, I just called around 11 PM and heard great news. Cade is now at 38% oxygen need which is the lowest he has ever been! He must really like laying on his tummy. And, Camdyn, although not dropping as quickly, is now at 60% oxygen need. She is also now on her tummy. So, I think I should be able to sleep tonight (that is for my 3 hour stretch between pumpings). I feel so relieved and happy right now. I do wish I could see them laying on their tummies. I am sure they look absolutely adorable. Now that I think about it, I have never even seen their backs because they have always been laying on their backs.

With preemies as little as ours, every step is a miracle, and we really get to appreciate each and every step. Like I said, I can't wait to see their backs. Have any parents of full-term babies ever thought that? I don't remember thinking that with Brenna. Also, their eyes should be opening soon - within the next week or so. I don't think I mentioned that before. Their eyes are still fused shut right now. I can only imagine what a miracle it will be to see their eyes open. They truly are my miracle babies.

Thank you God for a successful surgery, and thank you for their recovery. I know we still have a long road ahead, but I am so thankful that they are coming through this as well as they are. I ask you to continue to bless them, help them gain strength, and comfort them along the way. I thank you for the miracle babies you have sent me. Amen.

quick update


Both babies are recovering today. They are having a difficult time. Cade is requiring 100% oxygen right now. Hopefully, that will change to a lower amount soon. Camdyn is having problems with her right lung which partially collapsed after being on her right side during surgery. She is only requiring between 50-60% oxygen, so they think her lung is inflating again. They both have x-rays coming up soon, and we will know more then. Please continue to pray for my sweet babies as they go through recovery.

This has been a really hard day for me emotionally. I am so very worried about both of my babies. The doctors all told us they were going to get worse before they get better, but it is really hard to deal with. I feel like I am walking around in a zombie-like state - not feeling, not thinking, just going along. And, I practically got no sleep last night between worrying myself sick and pumping every 3 hours. Hopefully, things will start getting better soon and I will be able to sleep.

God, give my sweet angels strength to recover well from their surgeries. Bless them and comfort them to make recovery as painless and quick as possible. Amen.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Surgery Day


Today both Camdyn and Cade are having heart surgery to close their PDA valves. We are spending some time in the Ronald McDonald family room right now. I'm trying to keep myself busy so I don't think about the surgeries too much. The doctor assures us that this procedure is done often with preemies and is a fairly easy procedure. But, I continue to worry because our babies are so tiny. I just feel so bad for them that they have to go through so much at such a young age. I'm sure they are thinking they were much happier in the womb where people weren't constantly poking and prodding them. I too wish so much that they could be back in the womb. But, these doctors and nurses here work miracles. If they can't be inside of me, then this is the place for them to be.

The doctor just came in and told me they are finished with Camdyn and that it went great. That's 50% relief. Now, they are about to start the procedure on Cade. I am praying that it goes just as well. I am still worried about Camdyn because she does not like any change. The doctor tells us that the anesthesia will help control her oxygen needs after surgery. I worry about Cade because he has needed more blood transfusions and platelets. Again, the doctor has assured me that if he needs anything, they will be ready to give it to him. The next few hours/days are going to be tough. They have told us that they may get worse before they get better. They will require higher ventilator settings and higher oxygen needs. Their hearts will have to work harder to pump the blood throughout the body (it was just kind of circling through the lungs before- that's not a good medical description but that's how I understood it) and their hearts will be tired. Once they heal and their bodies adjust to the new physiology, they will start to show improvement. Hopefully, they will be able to start feedings, get off the ventilators, and start to gain weight soon. As scared as I am today, this is a necessary surgery in order for them to start making progress. We look forward to hearing about the progress that our little fighters are going to start making in upcoming days/weeks.

Pray for their quick recovery and for them to get stronger every day. I have faith that they are going to steadily progress after their recovery. I can't wait for the day that I will get to hold them in my arms

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cade and Camdyn's 1 week Birthday


Yesterday was Cade and Camdyn's 1 week birthday. I remember watching the clock at 9:01 and 9:02 and thinking they have made it their first week. They have several more to go in the NICU, but we are celebrating this first milestone.

We heard really great news on Cade and Camdyn last night. The grade one head bleed that he had has not gotten any worse and looks slightly better. So, that means it is stopping. This was a great relief. The neo-natologists expressed how much better off Cade is now than when he first saw him the first night after delivery. So, he is progressing in the right direction. Camdyn still shows no signs of any head bleeds. The doctor told us that although it still can happen, they are at a significantly lower risk for future head bleeds now. This was a great relief to hear.

Both babies are still struggling with the PDA valve being open. They both get tests tomorrow morning to see if the valve is trying to close on its own or if it is still open. We are praying that it will close on its own. If not, they can do a surgery to close it. That would be the next step. They really have to get the valve closed to start making more progress with lowering the ventilator settings and oxygen needs as well as to start feedings.

I have been able to touch both Camdyn and Cade now without gloves. It feels so incredible to hold their tiny fingers around my finger. Their whole hand fits around my fingernail. They have the most precious little fingers and toes you have ever seen. Camdyn is constantly trying to wiggle her feet out of the little nest they have created for her. Cade is much more laid back. I can't wait until the day that they are strong enough for me to hold them, and I can't wait to hear them cry for the first time.

Although this has been and will continue to be a long road full of joy and tears, it is definitely teaching me not to take anything for granted. I think back to the time we brought Brenna home from the hospital. We would "argue" about who was going to get up with her. Now, I think I would give anything to be able to wake up at any hour of the night or day, reach down into their cribs, pick them up, nurse them, hug them, and kiss them. When you are only able to touch their fingers at certain times, you really would give anything to just be able to hold them in your arms. I've realized just how many things we take for granted. If any of you have babies at home, try to be grateful when they are screaming at the top of the lungs in the middle of the night that they are able to scream at the top of their lungs. Just for a second, think about how healthy their lungs are and thank God. Then you can go back to feeling overwhelmed with a newborn. As we cross one bridge after another, I thank God for each little miracle and for the beautiful miracle babies he has given us.

Please continue to pray for Camdyn and Cade as they now deal with their PDA valves. We ask God for continued strength and healing for our sweet babies.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Outpouring of Support


I just wanted to take a second to express my gratitude to so many of you. Everyone has shown us such an outpouring of support. It is so nice to see all of our friends and family come together to support us. We always knew we had an amazing family and wonderful friends but to see everyone's generosity and caring is incredible. It just makes me feel so loved and comforted to know we really aren't in this alone. We have so many people helping us, praying for us, and loving all of us.

Our families have helped in so many ways. The past two days we have been moving into another house since our house sold and our new house won't be ready until July. Jim's friends came and moved everything on Saturday, and then Mike, April, Blake, Cole, Kathy, Russell, Mom, and Brylee helped clean and unpack today. We are almost entirely moved all in one weekend. Thank you all so much for helping us this weekend. The house looks great. It will be so nice to have all of our things put away and a place to call home.

My mom, sister, and mother and father in-law have been awesome taking turns watching Brenna while we were in the hospital. Brenna probably thinks she has been on grandma and aunt vacation. She's had a blast staying with them, but she has definitely been missing mommy and daddy too.

I have to say thanks to my sister who has pretty much taken over running the studio. I love the studio so much, but I just can't handle it right now with all that is going on. She has done an amazing job of stepping in and taking care of things. I also have to thank all of the studio staff who have gone out of their way to make sure things are running smoothly. Thank you all so much for taking care of my passion. I truly appreciate all you are doing.

How can I thank Bethany and Ryan enough? They have given us a place to call home in these crazy times. They have graciously offered us to stay in their rent house which is only a few houses down from our house now. We will actually still have the same street address. Our new address is 1503 Molson Lake Drive, Leander, TX 78641. Thank you guys so much!

Bethany and Cory are setting up a care calendar for meals. This will be so helpful since we'll be spending most evenings at the hospital with the babies. Here's the information:

The HELPER logon is used by family and friendsthat would like to sign-up to help a loved one.To access Jim & Michelle Hensel's personal CareCalendar site,visit
http://www.carecalend... and enter the followinginformation in the appropriate spaces:


Bridget is organizing a raffle to raise money towards our hospital bills. I'll update more information on this when she gets it. I know she has been crazy busy with her job, dance competition, and now she is out of the state on a business trip. Sis, I don't know how you do it, but I appreciate all your help. I love you.

And, of course, thank you all for all your prayers and support. The prayers are working so keep praying for our little miracles. I know it's going to be a long road. Please keep us all in your prayers.

I love you all and truly appreciate everything you all have done for us! Love - Michelle

First Days in the NICU


I am going to write about the twins' first days in the NICU. I can't remember each day because it all sort of ran together. It was overwhelming to hear about all the tests, ventilator settings, oxygen numbers, scans, etc. I just remember thinking I should be taking all this in, but I just couldn't especially on all the pain killers from my own surgery. I'm glad Jimmy was there to take in all that I missed. We are just now beginning to understand all the numbers and scans. It really is so much, and we have two babies in there. Sometimes I get confused if the information is for Camdyn or Cade.

Cade's start was a rough one. The neo-natologist came into our hospital room to let us know that he was going to need a nitrous oxide treatment to help his breathing. He was at 100% oxygen which meant the machine was doing everything for him. The doctor told us that the treatment was not FDA approved, but he had seen it work well for many preemies. It wasn't much of a choice; he needed it. So, they began the treatments and he started to do much better. He is now usually at 30-40% oxygen. Both babies' have PDA valves that are open. All babies at 24 weeks have their PDA valves open. They close later on. They are open in the womb to help the babies oxygenate. Our babies were just born before the valves had a chance to close in utero. The doctors are trying to close those with medicine. That is the first course of treatment, and we are praying that works. If it does not, then they will have to have surgery to close the valves. Again, the doctors don't seem concerned about that. Cade does have a grade one head bleed. When I found out about this, I just looked at him through his isolette and just cried. I really had a breakdown. I just so badly want everything to be alright. The doctor does not seem to think this is a big concern right now. We are hoping that the bleed just stops. He will get another scan later this week. All of his other signs are looking good though. They keep lowering his ventilator settings which is good news. That means that he is getting stronger and is able to do more on his own.

Camdyn, although much smaller than Cade, has been doing great. She has remained on low ventilator settings the last few days. She had started feedings with a tiny amount of breast milk, but she has now stopped that because she is again on medicine to hopefully close the PDA valve. They don't have to have the breast milk yet. They are getting their nutrition through IV fluids. The doctors want to get their respiratory needs leveled out first before they really start the feedings.

I feel like the babies are expected to do so much. Really, they aren't supposed to do any of these things on their own. But, they are fighters, and I know they understand what they need to do. They have been doing so well. The doctors keep telling us that each day is going to have its highs and lows. I'm trying to remember that and just take things as they come. We ask everyone to keep praying for our tiny sweet babies.

Tomorrow is their one week birthday! They will be one week old (or 25 weeks in gestation). I pray for a great week filled with small accomplishments, continued growth, and strength for my precious babies, Cade and Camdyn. I love you both so much! - Love, Mommy

Delivery Day


I was moved to the ante-partum wing on Sunday. I spent one day and night there instead of the months that I was supposed to spend there. Sunday night I began feeling signs of an infection. They did a urine test and determined I had a urinary tract infection, probably caused from having the catheter. Monday morning, April 5, around 6:00 AM, I started noticing blood in my urine. The nurses thought it was due to the urinary tract infection. They did start monitoring my contractions. I was having regular contractions but they were pretty light. It felt like small cramps or tightening. The nurses still thought it was due to the urinary tract infection irritating the uterus. They called the doctor in to check me.

At 8:15 AM, the doctor came in and gave me an exam. Jim had just arrived at the hospital before he was going to go to work. Mom and Brenna had spent the night with me the night before. Mom and Brenna left the room while the doctor was giving the exam. The doctor looked at me and Jim and said, "You have no cervix left. You are completely dilated and effaced. These babies are coming today."

Jim and I began to just cry. It wasn't time. This couldn't be. I was so scared. I have never been more scared in my life. Jim assured me that we were all going to be alright but I could see the immense fear in his eyes too. We cried together. Then, I was rushed down the hallway in the bed that I was in. They were all running, and Jim was running next to the bed holding my hand. The nurses and doctor were yelling ahead of us to open doors and prepare the OR. It was beyond scary. You see that kind of thing in movies but never imagine it could be you in that bed. It felt surreal. This couldn't be happening to us. It was a nightmare, and I was going to wake up. Sadly, it was reality.

They got me into the OR and asked Jim to wait outside. He says he felt like he was waiting forever. They moved me from the bed to the operating table. They had me sit up to get the spinal. I remember it was freezing cold in there. I was so frightened and freezing on top of that. There was a lot of commotion with doctors, nurses, neo-natologists, anesthesiologists, and countless others preparing for the c-section. When they had me prepped, Jim was able to come in. It all happened so very fast that I was scared I was going to feel it when they cut into me. I did not. I just wanted to know what was going on.

Jim let me know when they pulled Camdyn out. She was always "Baby B" and was expected to be delivered second, but she was delivered first. Cade was born one minute later. I couldn't hear either of them cry and still haven't heard them cry because of the feeding tubes. Jim said he heard both of them make a small whimper. They were both attended to by a team of nurses and then taken to the NICU. We were able to see both of them before they took them away. Camdyn Grace was born at 9:01 weighing 1 pound 2 ounces measuring 11 1/2 inches and Cade James was born at 9:02 weighing 1 pound 8 ounces measuring 12 1/2 inches. Everyone kept calling them Baby A and Baby B. Jim didn't like this so he announced their names in the delivery room. He wanted them to be called by their names and not Baby A and Baby B.

I was taken to the recovery room. Jim stayed with me even though they told him he could go to the NICU. I am so glad he did because I really needed him. He stayed calm throughout the entire ordeal even though I know he was scared beyond belief. After I was taken to the post-partum wing, he went to visit them. I wasn't able to go until the afternoon.

So, that's oue really scary birth story. I hope no one ever has to experience that. It was, like I said, the scariest thing I have ever been through. It's not how you plan to give birth. But, now our little miracle babies are here with us. We just keep praying and asking others to pray for them to grow and develop and get stronger every day. We love them both so much!

My Stay in Labor & Delivery


Once I was taken to labor and delivery, they again started hooking me up to monitors. That night they gave me the first dose of the steroid shots used to help develop their lungs. The high risk doctor, Dr. Sheppard, came in to do an ultrasound. Both babies looked good, and although my cervix was dilated, she said it was thick and not effaced. They put me on a magnesium drip through my IV as well as IV fluids. I had a catheter which was very uncomfortable. And, they had leg compressors on my legs to prevent blood clots. I also had 3 monitors on my stomach - a contraction monitor and one monitor for each baby. I felt like every inch of me was covered with some type of tube or monitor. I was on the magnesium for 48 hours. I spent one more night in labor and delivery so they could monitor any contractions.

On Saturday night, Jim surprised me with a hospital "date night". He picked up a Spicy Pickle sandwich for me (it's my favorite). He came in the room with an Easter lily and a bottle of sparkling grape juice in a hospital canister filled with ice. It was so sweet! We had a date night right on the hospital tray over the bed. We celebrated that we had made it to 24 weeks. We thought we would be having many more "date nights" in celebration of passing weeks. The babies or my cervix had different ideas.

How It All Started


So, it all started last Thursday, April 1. What a cruel April Fool's joke? The only problem was it wasn't a joke, far from it.

I woke up on Thursday morning and went to the restroom. Without being too descriptive, I noticed that there was a little fluid present. I honestly thought I was losing some control over my bladder carrying twins and all. I didn't think much about it and continued on with my day. I dropped Brenna off at school, and then, I went to a sewing class. (I got a sewing machine two Christmases ago and had just got around to actually taking a class.) After the class, I went to Subway. It was at Subway that I went to the bathroom and noticed some mucus this time (sorry about being too descriptive). I still wasn't real alarmed, but I decided to call my doctor anyway. Well, the nurse I spoke to said she would have to call me back after she talked to the doctor. So, I ate my sandwich and thought about how I was going to go sign a 3 month lease on an apartment since our house had sold. The nurse called me back and told me they wanted me to come check in at labor and delivery to be assessed.

I was still thinking they were overreacting. I went to pick up Brenna from school, and we headed to the hospital. After checking in, they hooked me up to some monitors to check the baby's heart rates. They were doing great. Then the doctor came in to give me an exam. During my exam, she looked up and told me, "You are dilated to a 2. We are checking you in to the hospital. You will not be going home." I began to cry. Brenna was still with me there, so I tried to hold back, but it just wasn't possible. I called Jim, and he rushed to the hospital too. I was very scared and confused. Why was this happening to me? Why was this happening at 23 weeks? What was going to happen?