Author: Lala
•Sunday, December 05, 2010
Our babies were born 10 weeks early and because of prematurity they had to stay in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for sometime. Rianne stayed in the NICU for 62 days while Mikelle for 67 days. Their NICU stay was sure to be a very emotional one, at least for me. NICU parents always describe it as a "Roller coaster ride with its non-stop ups and downs" - a perfect description since I hate roller coasters. I know though that their NICU stay saved my babies' lives and I am VERY VERY grateful for the technology that is available for them and us.

Because of my high blood pressure due to preecclampsia, the doctors had me waited  to see my babies from birth until they figured out what was causing my HBP and what medications to give me. I waited until the fourth day just to see my babies who were just one level below my room. Those days were very hard for me. I always got emotional when I thought about them, how close they were yet seemed too far away. I was very jealous when the NICU nurse came into my room and told me what she had been doing for Mikelle and Rianne and to give some reports. Not being able to see them hurt, much more for not being able to touch them, feed them, change their diapers or even watch them as they moved their little hands and feet. It hurt to know that I was helpless at that moment to do anything for my babies, anything that that kind nurse could or even anything that "mother" normally would. I held back my tears and emotions many many times because I was advised to not be emotional and to relax since any level of stress would be bad for my blood pressure reading and I did not want my mom and Carl to worry about me. Those memories still brings back tears to me when I think about them.

Here are some of the videos we took while our babies were in the NICU.

Mikelle: One day old.  Here you can get an idea of what the NICU sounds like.

Rianne: Ten days old

Rianne's cute little feet and arm: 10 days old

It was bittersweet taking Rianne home while leaving Mikelle behind. It did really made me feel sad saying goodbye to Mikelle that night.

Author: Lala
•Thursday, November 18, 2010
Mikelle and Rianne were blessed on November 7th, 2010. We were glad that Grandma Ellen and Grandpa Frank came to visit from Chicago to be with us for that special occasion. Carl pronounced a beautiful blessing for both of them. Our girls were good and behaved on their first church visit. I made them matching dresses for the occasion and I thought they looked cute in their dresses.

Mikelle and Rianne had a good time with Grandma and Grandpa. I am sure they enjoyed listening to their songs and playing with them. The girls made sure to give Grandma and Grandma a full experience of feeding and changing diapers.

Here are some of our pictures:

 Rianne with Grandma and Mikelle with Grandpa

Author: Lala
•Thursday, November 18, 2010
Our babies had their four-month checkup with their pediatrician yesterday. She was very pleased with their development and health. Mikelle is now 10 lbs and Rianne is a little behind at 9.4 lbs. They are now four month old from birth and two month old from due date. They now reward us with their beautiful smiles and coos. I love it when they respond to us when we talk, play and read books with them.

Yesterday. they had their first bus ride with me and Lola Rose on our way to the pediatrician. We had them in baby carriers. We took them to their first mall visit for lunch. Mikelle was tired and sleepy while Rianne was wide awake looking around. Rianne looked a little scared with all that she saw at the food court. She settled down a little bit when I had her face the wall while I fed her.

Our babies got a fair bit of attention from people, most thought that they were my Mom's and looked a little surprised when they learned that they were mine.

Here are some of Mikelle and Rianne's latest pictures:



Mikelle (right) and Rianne (left)

 Mikelle with Lola Rose and Rianne with Mom on their first bus ride.

Author: Lala
•Friday, October 15, 2010
It has been over a month since Mikelle and Rianne came home from the hospital. Because of some problems with heart rates and breathing, both our girls came home with apnea monitors. Last Tuesday, we went to see their pulmonologist and after analyzing records from their monitors, he advised us to discontinue the use of their apnea monitors. It was a really good news because that means our girls have finally outgrown their heart rate and breathing issues. They had the monitors for a little over a month. Here are some pictures of our girls before saying goodbye to their monitors.

Mikelle and Rianne with their monitors attached to their sides.
(Note from Carl: You can tell I'm a techie because even my children came with wires!)

Mikelle's close up picture

Rianne's close up picture

 The first time we cut their fingernails
Mikelle stopped crying when Dad held her hand while working on his computer

Mikelle (closer to the camera) and Rianne after feeding

Family picture before our pulmonology appointment

Lola Rose with Mikelle and Rianne in their green dresses

Lola Rose getting prettier taking care of her granddaughters.

In their matching clothes
Author: Lala
•Saturday, October 02, 2010
Our girls are 2 weeks 3 days old (corrected age) today. Mikelle was 6lbs 14oz and Rianne was 6lbs 6oz at our last visit with the pediatrician last Tuesday. They both are doing great and growing well. We visited the pulmonologist on Thursday last week to have their apnea monitors checked. Mikelle seemed to do really well and Rianne did ok. Their doctor said that we can turn the monitor off when we are with them during feeding and tummy time. We were advised to put them on monitors when sleeping. We are to go back for another check up with the pulmonologist in two weeks. The doctor might decide to take them off of the monitors if we find that they've done well since the last visit. Their pediatrician increased their Prevacid dosing to 3ml/day for their acid reflux. They are as well taking thickened milk still.

We have been pretty busy since they came home. Though we try to take turns for night feedings so one of us can have a longer stretch of sleep, finding enough rest is still very challenging. I am so glad that my mom is back to help us out. With many sleepless nights, I don't think it would be possible to be productive during the day without my mom's help.

The weather outside was beautiful this afternoon and so we decided to go to a nearby park for some sun and fresh air. I enjoyed throwing an Aerobie with Carl and it was very refreshing to be able to go out and do some stretches and running.

Here are some of our pictures:

Dad pushing babies' stroller on our way to the park.

 Mikelle's chubby cheeks

Carl and me playing frisbee

Rianne enjoying the park with Mom and Dad

 Mikelle with Lola Rose

 Mikelle hanging out with Dad under the sun

 Rianne with Lola Rose

 Mikelle feeling cool with her sunglasses

 Mikelle with Mom and Rianne with Lola Rose

Rianne in her car seat

Our most recent family picture. Mom holding Rianne and Dad with Mikelle
Mikelle and Rianne got tired from our outing.
Author: Lala
•Saturday, September 25, 2010
Yes, it is sometimes pretty tiring having two babies at home to take care of but they can be pretty entertaining too. Having to wake up a number of times during the night for feeding, changing diapers, or to calm crying babies is not very fun but seeing their smiles and eyes staring at me is all worth it. I love having our babies at home. It is so much fun and rewarding to be close to them at any time. I pretty much enjoy not wearing a yellow gown anymore (we did during Rianne's stay in the NICU because she had an infection). I especially love having them by each other and watch them interact. I am glad I caught this on cam to share with you.

Mikelle loves her pacifier..and I am sure she loves (or will love) her sister too. Sometimes, she just is having a hard time telling them apart.

She eventually started sucking on Rianne's little finger. Below, Mikelle is trying to get the pacifier back into her mouth. Please don't hate us for laughing while taking this video - she was immediately fed afterward.

Author: Lala
•Thursday, September 23, 2010
We've had the girls home for 11 days and 16 days, and they've each had at least one pediatrician appointment and a visit to the pulmonologist.

These girls are doing quite well and growing and changing.  Remember how we said that Mikelle just looked around the room when she got hungry?  Well, she turned into a little rooting piglet.  By the end of her hospital stay she apparently was waking up a half hour before feeding time, screaming.  The discharge instructions were to give her 60 mL of food every three hours, but we quickly raised it to 110 to 140.  It wasn't too complicated: baby cries, we give food, she stops crying.  She was obsessed with food - when I give her the first 60 of a feeding and put her down to get more, she screamed bloody murder because she was still hungry.  She's calmed down a bit, but she was pretty funny making noises and rooting around for the bottle. 

Rianne hasn't been so vocal, but her feeds were quickly increased from 50 (discharge instructions) to 70-110.  Rianne has had more trouble eating (choking and spitting up), which I long suspected was due to the fact that she wasn't getting thickened milk like Mikelle.  The pulmonologist today said he thought the same and we should go ahead and try the thickener.  Lala reports that she isn't dribbling so much during feeds already.

Apparently a lot of the bradycardia spells that the monitor picked up where essentially spurious.  Mikelle's record was just fine, and Rianne's was pretty much ok.  So we can take the monitor off when they're up and we're with them (for feedings, for example), since the monitor won't tell us anything that our eyes can't.  That will be kind of nice.

The doctor also said that there is zero concern about them eating too much.  The more calories, the better.  They are supposed to gain about 30 grams per day (that's about an ounce).  They've been gaining a little more than that: 400-500 grams since they came home.  Mikelle is nearly 3 kg (6lbs 5oz) at this point, and Rianne as always is a few hundred grams less at 2.6 kg (5lbs 13oz).

Here is some of Mikelle and Rianne's bonding moments.

Author: Lala
•Tuesday, September 14, 2010
As you can imagine, it's been busy here.  We've finally managed to get this video out.  Here it is in three parts. (I do call her Rianne in the first few seconds - it just sounds like Riannah on the recording for some reason.)

Author: Lala
•Sunday, September 12, 2010
Rianne kept us both up until about 3 AM last night, but we eventually figured out she was just very hungry. The amounts she'd been getting (60-70 mL every three hours) were not enough anymore.

After getting some sleep this morning, I (Carl) went to the hospital and got Mikelle. She got home about 3 PM, and was finally reunited with her sister after more than two months. We aren't sure if they really remember each other, but they did seem to find another baby interesting.

The beautiful and talented Lala made the following montage of our journey to this point. Tomorrow we'll post the full video of the sisters' reunion.

(I suggested that we use "Over My Head" by Lit as the song for this, but Lala said no for some reason.)
Author: Lala
•Saturday, September 11, 2010
After two long months in the hospital, Rianne is finally home! She was discharged on the 7th of September, Tuesday at 3:30 in the afternoon. She was sent home on an apnea monitor because of some brief, recurring problems with her heart rate (which should clear up with more time). She weighs 4lbs 10oz (2105 grams). She is on acid reflux medication as well.

Before they send her home, Rianne had to pass the car seat challenge. She was put on the car seat, and watched to see if she could maintain her heart rate and breathing at normal levels for 90 minutes. Babies that fail the test are sent home in a car bed. Here is a part of the video of her car seat challenge and some pictures:

The car seat challenge. Vitals are being monitored closely.

Rianne cuddling with Dad after her last feeding at the hospital

Rianne with her apnea monitor

Rianne is finally home

 Rianne and Mom after her first pediatrician appointment