Gabriel and Zeke are doing great, especially considering all that they’ve been through. They are well taken care of in the NICU, where the RNs, nurse practitioners and neonatologists are extremely judicious when choosing a course of action for preemies. When a baby shows any sign that he or she might be in distress, the err on the side of caution.
As of my last visit to see the boys a few hours ago, Gabriel was still breathing freely on his own, but Zeke had been put back on his CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) in order to help him achieve more fluid breathing. They still have IVs and are being fed what the nurses call “meat and potatoes” — liquid form proteins, carbs and fatty acids. The doc says that Gabriel can probably start having real food via IV later today. I think that means the colostrum (also known as “natures first food” and “immune milk,” and referred to as “liquid gold” by the lactation consultants around here) I’ve pumped thus far, supplemented with preemie formula.
It takes about two weeks for moms to really start producing large amounts of regular breast milk, so I have to pump every three hours to help my milk come in. Once I can hold the babies, I’ll start practicing breastfeeding with them, really just mimicking the process, since they will still be too small and weak to latch on. That way, they’ll be ready for the real thing once their big and strong enough to get the milk on their own.
Yeah, not being able to hold my beautiful boys is torture, especially since the human touch is known to be a relaxing and stabilizing thing for newborns. Once I get the okay from the NICU folk, I’ll be allowed to do “kangaroo care” — just having Gabriel and Zeke lay on my chest and feel the warmth and security of their mama through skin-to-skin contact. I’ve been told that I might be allowed to hold Gabriel tonight, but not Zeke, since all that moving around could compromise his CPAP and monitors.
The boys look like skinny little dolls, with long bodies and big feet and hands. (Note: Even though Zeke weighed 5 ounces more at birth, he is an inch shorter than Gabriel; they are 16″ and 17″ respectively.) They have especially large big toes, just like Houston, and look like miniature versions of their big brother. Although, they’re identical, I can already tell them apart by the shapes of their heads and their cute noses and lips. You’ll get to judge for yourself, though, ’cause Stephen plans on downloading all the pics from my camera and putting them up on the site tomorrow (hopefully), so keep an eye out for those.
Another interesting tidbit is that Zeke was “born in the caul,” which means when Dr. Stringer took him out of me, Zeke was still wrapped in the amniotic sac. It’s harmless since the sac is still intact. Therefore, Zeke didn’t gasp for his first breath of air till the caul had been ruptured and removed. It’s a rare thing, occurring in only 1 in 1,000 births. Moreover, being a “caulbearer” was considered a sign of good luck in medieval times; as the legend goes, it was thought to be an omen that the child was destined for greatness.
It’s as if Gabriel and Zeke are always defying the odds, from being identical twins, to sharing a placenta, to getting TTTS, to pulling through fetoscopic laser surgery, to making it well beyond what anybody thought they would gestationally, and now a darn caul. I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of my boys causing trouble, especially when led by big-brother Houston … here’s to the Three Amigos!
Another factoid is that Dr. Stringer and his c-section team “oohed” and “aahed” over what my placenta looked like post-laser surgery. Apparently, the ablated vascular connections were pretty darn freaky looking, evoking childlike wonder in the OR personnel. It’s a weird feeling to have all these medical professionals so excited by something that had previously been inside of me. I told Dr. Stringer he could have the placenta, if he wanted it obstetric study or posterity. Not sure if he took me up on that or not.
P.S. For those of you who were wondering, the quote that began Stephen’s 10/15 blog can be attributed to Sgt. Apone from the 1986 blockbuster “Aliens.” My sci-fi-loving hubby says that it’s the best line from film.