April 28, 2007

Two Oxygen Tanks Gone!

First off, I think this was the worst week for me since the triplets were born. It was so hard to see Niklas go through another surgery and then have to go back to neurosurgery for yet another tweak to his shunt. All I wanted was to trade places with him and take away his pain. We had doctor's appointments galore this week, and on top of it all, our (brand new) car broke down (again). By the time our pulmonology appointment came on Friday, I was convinced that we were going to be stuck with oxygen for yet another month or two. To our surprise, Niklas and Gabbie got rid of their tanks! It is such an awesome feeling to have a wireless baby. Simply being able to pick someone up and walk around is a luxury we have yet to experience. Since the babies were born, we have always had a layer of medical equipment in the way. At our previous appointment, Lukas was saturating at 73% without his oxygen, yesterday he was at 83%. He is definitely making great improvements and he probably has about one more month before he is free as well. It also seems that they have finally got Niklas's shunt working optimally as he has never looked better. This evening my parents came down and watched the triplets so we could go to dinner with Dailius and Irena. It was our first night out since the babies came home.

April 25, 2007

More Adjustments Necessary

When I got home from work tonight, I examined Niklas and noticed that his fontanelle was more concave than yesterday. Just to be safe, I made a call to U of M neurosurgery and they said that this overdrainage was their intended result. If his shunt was on this low resistance setting and the fluid was not draining, then there would really be a major issue. Apparently, they fully expected to be doing an adjustment soon. I know that someday all of this will be behind us, but right now it feels never ending and that my kid is part of some crazy science experiment. This poor little man has been through more in his 4 months of life than my wife and I have in our entire lives. Tomorrow should be easy, as they will use the magnetic remote to adjust the resistance of his shunt.

In lighter news, Gabbie is now 11.5 lbs and we now must watch here caloric intake. She went from a starving little preemie fighting for her life, to a complete butter ball. Niklas is about 10 lbs and Lukas is around 8lbs. That's almost 30 lbs of baby when we started with less than 8! Just for the record, Greta was 28.5 lbs at 1 year of age and her nickname was kukulis (little meatball). It appears that Greta has successfully cloned herself.

April 24, 2007

Post Surgery Update

You would think that after going through this routine a couple of times it would get easier, but it doesn't. It could be because I have grown so much closer to Niklas since he came home, or it could be that I can't stand seeing the little guy endure so much torture. Nevertheless, Mott Children's Hospital has a way of putting your life in perspective. Even though it's terrible that Niklas has to go through all of this, his experience really pales in comparison to the hurdles that so many other children face while they are there. I thank God that there are people who work at these places because I can't comprehend how someone can stand to see children in pain each day.

Niklas's surgery went well. It turned out that his shunt valve was clogged with protein and not functioning properly. While they were in there, they decided to replace the valve with a new one that can be adjusted without surgery via a magnetic remote control. This means that the neurosurgery dept. can adjust the pressure settings of the valve without making an incision, which is truly amazing.

After the surgery was over, we met Niklas in the surgical recovery room. It was heartbreaking to see him laying there with the dressings on his head, yet being such a little man about it. When Greta and I started talking to him, he recognized our voices and let out little whimpers in response. As a parent, you wish that you could just trade places with them and make it all go away. We got him settled in his hospital room, which is now a regular hospital room and not the NICU (he is, after all, a 4 month old now). Since he was not going to have the level of attention that he would get in the NICU, I decided to go home, pack a bag and come back to sleep there with him in his room. Around 8:00 p.m., he decided that he was no longer going to allow us to put the oxygen on his face. Every time that I tried, he pulled it back off so I eventually decided to give up. Amazingly, his oxygen saturation was 100% all night long which is a strong indication that he will be getting off of it permanently at our pulmonology appointent. this Friday.

Niklas and I shared the room with another couple and their little boy, and even though Niklas was a complete Angel, I did not get a single minute of sleep last night. The other little boy's dad snored so loud that I was convinced that there were bear mating behind the curtain. It was a long night, and I welcomed the moment when we were finally discharged. The neurosurgeon told me that Niklas's shunt is now programmed for a very low resistance setting. This means that more fluid might drain than is necessary and that we may see his fontanelle collapse a bit. At our follow up appointment next week they will probably adjust it, but I was told to bring him in if the top of his head resembled an ash tray. An ash tray? You have to wonder where that analogy came from. Did someone actually consider using their kid's head for that?

April 20, 2007

Yet More Surgery Scheduled

Yesterday we had planned for an all day event for Niklas's CAT scan, since that seemed to be the case last time. He was scheduled for the scan at 8:00 a.m., and analysis sometime in the afternoon. I was going to meet Greta at the hospital around noon to avoid taking the whole day off of work just to wait around. Greta called me around 11:00 a.m. to let me know that the doctor thinks that Niklas's shunt is not functioning optimally. They are not sure what the problem is at this point, but it seems as though it is not draining enough. His ventricles aren't really increasing in size, but they aren't really getting any smaller either. In addition, the little hole on the top of his head where his temporary Macomb Reservoir was is still filled with fluid and should have been draining a little more by now. This kind of took the wind out of our sails a bit since everything was going so well at this point. In fact, the babies almost slept through the night last night (they made it until 4:00 a.m.). Please pray that Niklas's surgery goes well, that his recovery is speedy, and that the details of this shunt system are ironed out.

April 17, 2007

Wonderful Exhaustion

I am not going to pretend I have it anywhere near as tough as Greta does, because it's no contest. I get enough sleep each night, and I get to escape to work and hang out with adults all day long. Nevertheless, after having kids I do feel even more of a push to work my butt off and bring home the bacon. Speaking of bacon, I got home tonight and grilled up some steaks, fed the babies, cleaned the kitchen and all of the sudden it was 9:00 p.m. I felt like I could instantly fall asleep. The thing is though, the exhaustion is wonderful. It is more rewarding than I ever thought it would be and every moment I spend with these little guys makes me completely happy. All along, these babies have needed us, but it wasn't until recently that it started to feel like they actually love us. If I walk into the room while they are sleeping and one of them happens to spot me, they become wide eyed and obviously excited. Before long, three little people will think I am the coolest man on earth, but little do they know I am the farthest thing from it. Here are some more pictures from the weekend.

April 14, 2007

A Visit From The Aunts

On Wednesday, my Sister, Sarah arrived from Hoyt Lakes Minnesota which is somewhere between Duluth and the North Pole. If you have ever seen the movie North Country, that is the actual town that she lives in with her future husband, Adam. It's way up North, and it gets a little cold sometimes, but it sure is beautiful and they spend the summer tinkering around on a lake that is virtually untouched (Something you have to drive pretty far to see in Michigan). In fact, Adam gets a little upset if he even sees another human being on the lake. Hopefully, we will be able to get up there soon to visit them. In the meantime, Sarah has been ironing out the details of her wedding which will take place on July 19th, 2008 in Lansing.

We have had different combinations of Sarah, my Mom, my Dad, and my Sister-in-Law Emily here since Greta's parents headed for California last Monday. We have been very lucky having overnight help ever since Gabbie came home in February. All in all, it's been a pretty uneventful week except for the fact that Niklas all of the sudden wants to be held all of the time. As soon as he is put down, he spits out his binky and starts crying. Yesterday, he was almost inconsolable, but seems to be in a much calmer mood today.

For The Lithuanians

Earlier in the week I posted a picture of Dailius holding Gabbie. What I did not know, however, was that Irena had told everyone in Lithuania that I would be posting a picture of both of them with the babies. Apparently, there was much disappointment when everyone visited the site and didn't see that picture, so here it is.

April 9, 2007

Time Flies!

I cannot believe how fast time is going. Everyone told me that this would happen once you have kids, but I didn't think weeks would go by like days.

Number of days...
Since Birth - 110
With Gabbie Home - 46
With Lukas Home - 34
With Niklas Home - 25

The days are also very similar at this point, which is another reason I think they go by so fast. The babies are an absolute blast, but it's all of the feeding and diaper changing that makes it feel like there is no time at all. I have no where near the hectic schedule that Greta does caring for the babies all day long, but when all you do is go to work and feed babies the days seem to blend together a little bit. Yet, when I look back on the progress we have made since all three have been home, it's amazing. Here is the way the feeding schedule looked at first.

7:00 a.m. (Feeding)
11:00 a.m. (Feeding)
3:00 p.m. (Feeding)
7:00 p.m. (Feeding)
11:00 p.m. (Feeding)
3:00 a.m. (Feeding)

Now, three weeks later, it looks like this...
7:30 a.m. (Feeding)
Between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (Feeding)
Between 3:30/4:30 p.m. (Feeding)
Between 7:30/8:30 p.m. (Feeding)
Around 9:00 p.m. (Bedtime)
Between 2:00 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. (Feeding)

I know that it doesn't look too much different, but the elimination of that 11:00 p.m. feeding has been wonderful. Now, we can all get sleep between 9:00 and 2:00, and getting up for all of the feedings is do-able. I have been overly anal about the schedule. In fact, my mom and Greta call me the "Supervisor" and tend to get a little irritated with my obsession with sticking to it. However, I think that the schedule, overall, has made this whole thing much more manageable. Our next goal will be to start weaning them off of the middle of the night feeding, but I don't think we even want to start trying that until Lukas gets a little closer to 10 lbs. He still needs every drop of food that he can get, and it's still quite a chore to muscle his feedings down him. Today, we alternated help again. Greta's parents headed to California for the week, so my mom is in to relieve. The picture is of Dailius (Greta's Dad) and Gabbie.

April 5, 2007

When It's Not Your Day...

Sometimes you can tell it's going to be a foul day from the second you get up. Your hair looks like crap, you spill coffee on yourself and can't find your car keys. Today didn't start off like that, it started off good. The babies did great with their second night on the new schedule, and I got a good night's sleep before heading off to work. I got to work a little early to prepare for a meeting and print off the materials to be discussed. The first printer I tried got jammed, the second just sat there, the third was low on toner and the fourth just printed one page a minute. No big deal, but a precursor as to the way the rest of the day was going to go. We had a 10:00 a.m. appointment with neurosurgery at U of M for Niklas to get a head ultrasound to see how his shunt was functioning. We then had a follow up appointment at 11:00 to review the results with the neurosurgeon. I left the office at 9:45 and hit every light on the way there, traffic was horrible and the streets were jammed at every turn. When I got to the parking structure I was held up by a car that took the whole family to park. The Mom and Brother got out of the van to to help Dad navigate on what was obviously his first day ever driving in the United States. And, wouldn't it figure that, I had to park on the very highest level of the parking structure. Again, no big deal, but we are just getting warmed up here (literally). I got to the hospital around 10:15 (should have been a 10 minute drive) and realized that I left the piece of paper with the room number on it in my office. After about 10 minutes or so I was able to track down the room that Greta and Niklas were in and the ultrasound was already underway and it wrapped up punctually at about 10:50. We then headed over to the neurosurgery department to discuss the results with the doctor. We didn't actually get seen until 1:45 p.m., 2 hours and 45 minutes late. After about 1 hour I explained to the nurse that Niklas was premature and at high risk for RSV and that sitting in this waiting room is not a good thing for him. I informed her that my triplets all receive Synagis at $1500 a pop to try and prevent it. The nurse was very nice and thought it would be best to put us in a room, and then forget about us for the next hour and 45 minutes. Finally, we met with the doctor who told us that he "thought" everything looked good, but there were a couple areas of concern that he couldn't be 100% sure of. We would need to schedule a CAT scan to get a clearer picture of what is going on. I wanted to ask him if I should request vacation days for it. We were both discouraged by the inconclusive news, but too tired at this point to really get to concerned about it. We checked out of the clinic and headed to Greta's car parked on the roof of the parking structure. When we walked out onto the roof we noticed a little smoke near our car. I didn't know what it was, but I wanted to make sure Niklas didn't breathe any of it in. I told Greta to stay put, and that I would go get the car. As I approached the vehicle, I noticed that the car two spaces over from us was becoming engulfed in flames. I sat there for a second or two deciding whether or not to just make a run for it and get the car, but in that moment of hesitation the flames roared higher and higher. Before I knew it, security was telling me to step away and get back into the building. I could only hope that the flames would take my wonderful GM vehicle with it. Greta and I went to the lobby and had some coffee. When you are having a bad day, there is nothing you can do but laugh. And so for some lighter news...Lukas farts profusely when he eats.

April 4, 2007

Binky Business

We all have our vices. In fact, I am counting the hours until lent is over so that I can have a glass of wine (it ends at sundown on Thursday in case you really wanted to know). The boys, on the other hand, seem to have a tumultuous love affair with their binkies. I think we spend more time "binky-ing" the babies than anything else. With Gabbie, obviously, her addiction is her food. From the pictures you can tell that she obviously can't get enough of it. We took Gabbie and Lukas to the pediatrician today and she weighed in at 9 lbs 7 oz. Lukas is up to 6 lbs 6 oz. Both of them had very healthy weight gain. Last night we also experimented with the feeding schedule a little bit. We decided to feed the babies around 8:00 p.m. and see how long they would go before waking up. They made it to 2:15 a.m., at which point we fed them again and they went until 7:30 this morning. Essentially we eliminated an entire feeding (the 11:00 p.m.) which is really great progress towards our goal of getting them to go through the night. It wasn't a completely event free night, it took some "binky-ing" to pull it off. Tomorrow is our follow-up neurosurgery appointment with Niklas to see if his shunt is functioning properly. Here is a picture of him with his coveted binky.