Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Uncle Ru We’ll Miss You

The angels above have once again chosen another path for someone I dearly love. Today I say goodbye to my dearest brother Rupert (super uncle to my 5 stars) who passed away on Saturday after a year long battle with cancer. He put up such a good fight I honestly never thought we would loose him. Ru I’m desperately sad that you never got to meet my boys, but we’ll do you proud I promise. I love you and I’ll miss you every day!

To Phillipa, my beautiful niece Scarlett, Dad and Bek, I’m sorry I can’t be with you in South Africa today, but please know that I am there in spirit. Thank you to Mon, Si, Mike and Doo for giving me the opportunity to come and say goodbye. Couzey Kate and all the rest of my friends and family thank you for your love and support. I love you all xxx 

Day 28 - Four Peas In A Pod

In the last week my little stars have come on so much! Every day they are all putting on a fantastic amount of weight and at the last look of their charts they were between 3lb 5oz (1.5kg) and 3lb 11oz (1.7kg). The extra prem clothes we’ve been dressing them in for the last couple of weeks are finally starting to fit rather than looking ridiculously over-sized :) Their skin has also changed a lot and they look much more like a term baby now, just super small but so cute! We have had a couple of infection scares with baby Ru, Josh and Zac but hopefully it’s nothing to serious. All three have been having a bit of difficulty breathing and there blood shows infection levels over the norm. It could just be something like a common cold for you and me but being so small there bodies find it difficult to cope. They have been put back on a small amount of oxygen and given antibiotics, so fingers crossed that will sort it out. 

I was lucky enough to get them all out for a cuddle last week. I was meaning to post these pics but with everything going on I didn’t get a chance. It was so amazing to see them together and it confirmed my thoughts that Ru could be an identical with Josh and Zac, he looks SO similar. 

I also just want to thank everyone who has been giving us support of all kinds over the last three weeks. Special mentions to the Bristol Twinsgroup for my care package and the lovely meals you have been delivering to St Michael's. Also to the UK Triplets and Quad group and Bristol Twins and Multiples for the tiny baby clothes you have all sent. You’re all amazing mummies thank you!!! 

 From left to right: Josh, Zac, Ru, Sam

Monday, 19 March 2012

Day 19 - Happy Mothers Day

I know I'm a day late but I still want to wish all my mummy readers the most amazing mothers day, I hope you all had a lovely time with your families. I also want to wish all absent mummies who like mine are sadly not with us today a wonderful day too! Mum’s are such special people, and for my mum in particular; thank you for being such an incredible human being, we didn’t always see eye to eye but your strength and courage has stuck with me over the last 14 years and made me the person I am today. I LOVE YOU MUM! I felt super special being mum to my darling Luke and my four stars yesterday. I was even lucky enough to receive a card from each of my boys! 

I'm embarrassed to say another week has gone by and I still haven’t found the time to update you properly on the difficult week I had physically following the birth of my stars or of their day by day progress since being in NICU. Every day I have woken up with the best intentions to write a post but by the time I have made it home from hospital the only thing I can think about is food and sleep (in between constant expressing!). I’ve decided that I’m a bit behind now so instead of trying to play catch up I am going to carry on from where we are now. If I ever do find the time I’ll fill you in on the bits that we’ve missed.

So what are the boys up to now, well...

They are all now out of Intensive Care and have been moved up to High Dependency which is amazing! All the arterial lines, ventilation and Cpap have been removed and all that is left are their feeding tubes. Reu is still on a little Cpap which he should hopefully come off soon. I can at last see their little faces and look into their eyes properly. To be very honest I found it difficult to bond with them in the first week or so when they were hooked up to so many machines and wires, but that’s definitely not the case now! My love for all four of them is coming out in gallons every time I look at them, hold them or touch their tiny little hands and feet. Zac and Josh are most certainly identical (Josh luckily has a small birth mark on the side of his head), Reu looks uncannily similar to Josh and Zac and I almost wonder if he could also be an identical to them (only time will tell) However Sam looks completely different with very dark hair and a different shape face altogether.  

I have been an expressing machine since their birth and have managed to keep up with the demand of their supply to date with some left over too! Sam and Josh are now on 30mls every 3 hrs and Reu and Zac are on 20mls every 2 hrs, they’ll soon move up to the 30mls. They are all back to their birth weights (for those of you who don’t know babies loose weight when their born) and putting on a decent amount of weight every day. They are all showing signs of sucking so we have decided to start introducing some time on the breast. At first it will just be giving them an idea of what supposed to happen, then gradually they may be interested in actually latching on for a suckle (this will be just after I have expressed so as not to shock them with the flow of milk) and finally when they are ready we can try it for real, a while off yet, but very exciting none the less.
It’s completely amazing to think that they would only be 32 weeks today if they were still inside me! especially when I can really see that they are starting to take notice of whats happening around them when they are awake. When I sing and talk to them their eyes are definitely trying to focus in in the direction the sounds are coming from. Their little personalities are very apparent too! Sam although being the youngest is definitely the most boisterous, he is very strong and is constantly moving around his incubator, even trying to escape on occasions (see pic below)

Here are some recent pics




Sam having done a full 360, trying to escape from his incubator

Josh & Zac together again, sharing an incubator

 Sam & Reu sharing an incubator which didn't last long as Sam was being a bully

 My first cuddle with Sam days after they'd been born

Wallace & Gromit's Grand Appeal - Cots For Tots

Another very important mention which I want to make is for the Wallace and Gromit Cots For Tots appeal. If it wasn’t for all the amazing work which has been done to raise money to provide new incubators for NICU and family accommodation for parents of NICU who come from outside Bristol I don’t think my boys would have been able to be together at St Micheal's. Here is some info about this fantastic charity! They are so nearly there on reaching the 1 million they set out to raise. Their next event is the Bristol 10k Run on the 20th of May.

“The Cots for Tots Appeal is raising £1 million to provide four life-saving cots and a new intensive care suite at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St Michael’s Hospital Bristol and a 12 bedroom Family Accommodation Suite across the road so parents can stay close to their babies.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a very special place.  The Unit cares for more than 600 babies every year from Bristol and all over the South West of England. It is the only unit in the South West equipped and able to provide life-saving treatment, care and surgery at the highest level. Tiny babies, some born as early as 20 weeks, are cared for on the Unit – their little arms and legs are often no bigger than your little finger. Huge recent advances in the care of premature and newborn babies enable the unit is able to care for more and more babies creating an ever increasing demand for the specialist and life-saving neonatal care they provide.

To meet this demand, The Cots for Tots Appeal is asking for your help to provide new state of the art equipment and facilities to support premature and newborn babies from Bristol and throughout the South West of England and South Wales.”

Here are some further links
Cots For Tots Website
Cots For Tots Twitter Page

Ward 74 - Thank You!

To Sam Haines all the wonderful staff on Ward 74...

I'm so sorry I haven’t done this sooner! I was going to do it with my post about my time after the birth but that never happened. I hope you don’t think I have forgotten about you all.

I honestly can’t thank you enough for the most amazing care over the 8 weeks I was with you, I felt quite at home in my sunny room by the end of it!  It wasn't just the care it was the company and conversations which kept me sane as well. Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything,
you really all are a credit to your profession!!

I’ll be up to visit soon xxx

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Day 10 - I’m a Quad Mummy!


I’m sorry for deserting you all for so long but as I’m sure you can imagine my days and time have all moulded into one. The last 10 days have been the most special and difficult days imaginable, I don’t really know where to start...

Once again I'm overwhelmed by the support and messages of congratulations! It’s truly incredible that so many of you have shared my journey to this point. 19 weeks of blogging and the day finally arrived, I can’t quite believe that my little stars are now on this earth, nearly 10 days old! Thank you so much all of you, I hope to reply to your comments and emails soon.

I have so much to share with you but I'm going to need to do it in instalments as my energy stores are very low at the moment.

So I’m sure you are dying to know how it all happened... Well go back to Wed the 29th 12pm; I went for my usual weekly cervical scan with my consultant and baby scan with the Professor. The baby scan showed that they were all doing fine and growing nicely, the weights I was given then were Baby 1 (Reu) 2lb 10, Twin 1 (Josh) 2lb 10, Twin 2 (Zac) 2lb 10 and Baby 4 (Sam) 3lb. My TVS scan showed that my cervix was still very short but there was no change. I certainly wasn’t feeling great in myself that morning, very flushed and in a lot of pain. I just put it down to the lack of sleep as the past few nights had been so difficult. The previous night a doctor was called at about 11pm as I was having severe lower back pain and period pain cramps. She did an internal and said that she thought I was about 1-2 cm dilated but that I wasn’t showing any other signs of labour so they would hold out on making any rash decisions at this stage. After my scan showed no change, the feelings that I might deliver that day subsided (it had been a bit of a joke in Fetal Medicine that I would deliver on the leap year). A small part of me had wished that the scans had shown something different so that I would have had an indication as to when my boys would be born, instead I left feeling the same as before, none the wiser.  

Everything remained stable for the rest of the day until I went for dinner at about 6pm. I ended up sitting at a table with a triplet mum and two twin mums. It was crazy to think that between four mums we had 11 babies! It’s was then that the strong and regular contractions started. I had 4 in 30mins, so decided to go back to bed and rest. I didn’t think it was too serious at first as I’d had my scan that day and this had happened in the past and then subsided, however after 2 hours of contractions every 10mins the midwifes decided to call a doctor. She came and had a chat with me and suggested I took some codeine to try and relieve the pain and said she’s be back in half and hour to see how I was. I think she must have felt something wasn’t quite right as between leaving and coming back a midwife came in and asked me not to eat or drink anything (as you would do before an operation). This is when alarm bells started ringing in my head. I had only spoken to Mart just before dinner saying that the boys definitely weren’t coming today, so although I desperately wanted to ring him as I was feeling really scared, I didn’t want to alarm him when the doctor could have come back and everything would had settled down. When she returned nothing had changed so she did an internal. From her face I could see that things were about to happen. She really calmly looked at me and explained that I was 3cm dilated and given that I was showing signs of being in active labour and my history with Luke, there was no question that these babies needed to be delivered tonight. I was told that they would aim to deliver at 10pm.

It was then literally all systems go! I presume from their side all the the thought and planning which had been put into this day now had to come together, and thankfully I felt completely safe and assured that it would. My mind was racing, I couldn’t quite believe the time had come and I would finally meet my stars, the little angels I had been growing for so long. There was so much joy and excitement but at the same time fear and apprehension that they would be ok, knowing realistically how prem they still were. I called Mart and all that came out was ‘are you ready for this?’ he didn’t question me for a second and told me he’d be there immediately. With Luke safely looked after (thanks again Donna for being there!) Mart arrived at the hospital. By that time I was already down on the delivery suite (thanks Becka for staying with me!) and had been spoken to by a number of the team that would be involved in the delivery in some way, from the midwives, paediatricians and neonatoligists to the anesthetists, surgeon and fetal medicine consultant who was on call that night. To be honest it’s all a bit of a daze now. Mart got into his scrubs at about 9:40pm and we were taken into theatre. 

Here we are just before going into theatre 

The room was really busy but it was a quiet calm rather than a frantic mad panic. I was placed on the operating table and could just see everyone busy at their stations getting things prepared. It didn’t feel like the room was over crowed at that stage but looking at the footage that Mart filmed there must have been at least 25 people in there. I'm so glad we have this as it is definitely something to treasure. 

About to get my spinal. The moment of truth...

Here’s some of the team
The c-section started at 22:44 with the delivery of the boys at 22:48, it was all over by 22:54. Reuben was the first to be born (Baby 1), then Zachary (Twin 2), then Joshua (Twin 1) and finally Samuel (Baby 4). They all let out a little squeaky cry when they were delivered (which was amazing to hear) as they were rushed to their resuscitators to be worked on. Each baby had a team of 3 people carrying out all the vital checks and getting them ready to be transferred to NICU. 

Reu & Zac

Josh & Sam 

The evidence

Me after delivery with my four bands. The first sign of reality!

I wasn’t able to see Ru and Zac before they left but was able to give Josh and Sam a little kiss before they were put into their incubators and taken upstairs. Again it was all a bit of a daze after this. I was given lots of pain relief and waited until all the boys were ready for me to see. They needed a number of procedures to inset arterial lines and be hooked up to all the various machines etc. It was 5am before I was wheeled up to NICU in my bed to see them properly for the first time. I can’t begin to the tell you the emotions I felt seeing my beautiful stars for the very first time!

I will do a full update of the days after and what the boys have been up to in NICU over the last 10 days in my next post, which should hopefully be soon. Just to say though that they are doing so well and are responding and doing all the things that you would hope a 29 week (now 30 week) baby should. There have been no major concerns raised, which is incredible!

Special Thank You’s
From the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone who was involved in bringing my boys into this world and ensuring their safe delivery and care immediately after. There was so many of you that I’m afraid I don’t know you all by name, but very special thanks to my surgeons Ellie who was the one who actually delivered my boys and Mark Denbow (Fetal Medicine Consultant) her assistant. I also can’t express enough gratitude to my consultants Rachel Liebling and Professor Soothill. Thank you Rachel for such professional and empathetic care of myself and the boys over the last 17 weeks, there were points when I didn’t think I could do it and you always managed to bring me back on track. To the Professor, again a huge thank you for keeping my boys in check the entire time. Your ability to measure and assess their well being right up until the last day really was incredible, and you were completely right about their personalities too!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

WK 29: Day 4 - Welcome Little Stars!

We are extremely proud to announce the birth of our 4 little boys Rueben 2lb 14oz, Zachary 2lb 8oz, Joshua 3lb 1oz and Samuel 2lb 13oz into the world. They were born on the 29th of February at 22:48pm and all delivered within 6 minutes of each other in that order. They are all healthy and happy and doing really well. Reuben and Zachary have been given a few doses of Surfactant to help their lungs cope with being born premature, which makes breathing easier and prevents the lungs from collapsing. They have also been on mechanical ventilation to avoid respiratory distress and maintain oxygen levels and air pressure which they will be weaned off within 48 hours after birth. Otherwise the hospital is really happy with their condition and we have been told to expect them to be in care for 6/8 weeks. They are so small yet so perfect!

Above all, by some incredible chance, 4 beds are available here so they will all be in the same hospital. We were told to expect them to be split so it is amazing that they are all together. Words can`t describe how grateful and relieved we are!

Everything about their births went really smoothly and we thank the hospital and staff (top to bottom) for their well oiled and professional delivery! Thanks everyone for making it happen and to everyone who has sent gifts and supported Emma through the indescribably difficult period she was in hospital. We really appreciate it and all the words of encouragement have really helped. Thank you.

I (Martin) am writing this post while Emma is recovering and getting some well needed and deserved rest. She is doing well but naturally extremely sore from the cesarean. She is under close observation and being well looked after and its really comforting to know she and the babies are receiving the best possible treatment. We have been told that she can expect be back home in about 3/5 days which is fantastic as she has been in hospital for nearly 7 weeks. Cant wait!!!

I took Luke to see his Mum and brothers today and was really pleased that he was so comfortable around them. When he woke up this morning, the first thing he asked was to go to the hospital to see his brothers. We are going to have one BUSY house!!!

Here are our little stars, well done boys