Today is day 16 in the NICU. Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement, whether by voice mail, facebook, or email. Each note means so much, and we are beyond thankful to have so many people praying for Barnes and Frances. Please know that even though we aren't really returning phone calls right now (we can't use cell phones in the NICU), we are thankful for each of you.
Our babies are now considered "feeder/growers," which means they are working primarily on learning to bottle feed and gaining weight. They still have some issues with breathing too quickly, but their tiny bodies are slowly learning what to do. Barnes is a bit ahead of Frances on the eating issue, but Frances has made incredible progress considering the extra hurdles she had to overcome. We are working on getting Frances to gain weight, as this seems to be one of her struggles.
They are both such sweet babies. Barnes will happily play awake in his crib, and he loves his pacifier. He likes to wrinkle his forehead and is already learning to pee on his cute outfits. Frances is still so tiny, but very expressive. She is not afraid to show her grumpy face when she disapproves of whatever you are doing. She is such a fighter, but so cuddly at the same time. We are so proud of our two angels...they are literally the strongest two people I have ever known.
Many people have said that this is really better, that this is a time for us to rest while we prepare for the babies to come home. While I know they mean well, let me assure you that this is not better than having our little ones at home. We have been preparing for these children for 34 weeks--really for the last year and a half--and we want nothing more than to have our entire family home. Having babies in the NICU is not a break...it's exhausting. While we may be more sleep deprived once the twins are home, we are by no means well rested now. Here's a sample of our current routine:
6:30-7:00: Wake up. Andrew gets ready for work and packs anything he needs for the day. Jessica pumps, cleans all pump supplies, dries all pump supplies, gets ready, packs a bag for the hospital.
8:00: Andrew comes to the hospital for the first feeding of the day, then goes to work.
9:00: Jessica heads to hospital. Jessica pumps sometime before the next feeding.
11:00: Babies have another feeding (some are by tube and some are by bottle). Andrew arrives back at hospital. One of us holds Frances up to reduce her reflux after her feeding.
12:15: Andrew and Jessica eat a yummy lunch in the hospital cafeteria.
12:45: Jessica pumps.
1:00: Andrew returns to work (though I'm not sure how great his concentration is right now).
2:00: Babies have another feeding.
3:00: Jessica pumps again and then leaves hospital sometime between 3 and 4.
4:00: Jessica lets dogs out, cleans all pump supplies, tries to do any house things that have to be done.
5:00: Andrew comes home from work, works on house work and errands.
6:00: Dinner, walk dogs, pump again.
7:30: We both head back to the hospital to make it in time for the babies' 8:00 feeding. Pump again at hospital.
10:00: Leave hospital. Prepare pump supplies for the night. Eat a snack because we are usually both starving.
11:30- 12:00: Go to bed.
3:30 a.m.: Jessica gets up to pump.
7:00: Start again.
While this is exhausting, we are so thankful that, for our family, this will eventually end. Many families here have no end in sight, and seeing kids who are so sick is truly heartbreaking. Through this process, we have learned how lucky our friends and family are to have so many healthy children. A pregnancy is not ensured to end in a healthy birth, and for each that does we should all praise God.