The girls have done it! We’ve reached 35 weeks. In fact, they are six weeks old today. Last night they weighed in at 5 lbs 10 oz. Their weight is only 8 grams different. It’s pretty extraordinary and I am overjoyed that they have kept up good growth. We are now too big for preemie clothes and diapers and have moved up. I tell the girls that I am so proud of them that they have “big girl panties” since they wear newborn sized diapers instead of preemie. Celeste is 18.75” in length and Vivien is 18.25”.
They are both taking feedings from a bottle and from the breast. They are still getting fed half of their meals via a gavage tube that goes from their nose into their tummy. I pump breast milk 6-7 times per day and get around 7-10 oz (~250-300 ml) each time. I make wwwaaaayyyyy more milk than what they currently need. I have filled the freezer in their NICU suite 3 times! They always get fresh milk and I am saving the freezer stuff for when they come home and my husband or in-laws can feed them a bottle while I get some extra sleep. I mention this because I was really worried that having a premature baby would mean that I couldn’t make adequate milk. Luckily for me, thank goodness, this is not a problem. I drink a ton of water to help my supply (about 2-3 liters per day), I pump every 3-4 hours for 30+ minutes and I hand express any extra milk to ensure that my breasts are as empty as possible. I really think that early and often hand expression (this was encouraged by the lactation consultants in the NICU) has really made a difference.
Unfortunately, my sweetie girls still have apnea of prematurity episodes a few times per day, but they are steadily growing out of it. They no longer have nasal cannulas to give them airflow to remind them to breathe and are only on extra doses of caffeine (very Seattle). We expect that we will be able to take them home in 2-3 weeks. They will have to stop having apnea episodes, take all of their feeds from either breast or bottle (they do about half now), continue to gain weight and maintain their body temperature in their open cribs (they’ve been out of their isolettes for about 2 weeks now).
I spend most of my day in the NICU. I wake up in the morning around 6:30 am to pump breast milk for them, then I take a nap until about 9:30 to drive to the hospital where I try to feed at the breast by 10:30. I stay with them all day in our private room at the hospital. I change their diapers, feed them and also help the nurse with little tasks. I give them a bath once or twice per week. My favorite part of the day when I get to hold them kangaroo style (skin-to-skin) quietly sing songs and love them up. My mother and father in law show up around 6:00 pm to give me a break. I go home and spend 3-4 hours with MrBeep, then we both head back to the hospital and hang out with the girls until about 1:00 to 2:00 am. When either girl has a bad day, then I spend the night and sleep on a foam bed in their room. Luckily, they have been doing well for several weeks and I haven’t had to sleep over for a while.
Thank you all so much for checking on me. I try to steal time away during the day to read your blogs. I comment when I can. To tell the truth, there has been much fear and many tears shed on my part, but we are steadily getting through this. I find it hard to write about it, I can’t seem to get back the same quiet time to reflect on my feelings and I don’t think that dwelling on the negative is useful for me right now. I would rather spend my energy holding them next to my skin (they love skin-to-skin contact). I would rather spend my energy quietly singing songs and telling them how much they are loved and how proud we are of them. They are both very hearty and healthy and (in my humble opinion) are beyond adorable. I am so in love. My heart is full.