Monday, August 31, 2009

Diaper change

We visited the girls this evening. They are still behaving and were having a good night. We had a good night at the NICU as well. We were delighted when Ashlyn's nurse asked us if we wanted to change her diaper. She had a wet and dirty diaper. It was the first time we have gotten to do this and we were so excited! Who knew changing a diaper would be so exciting! I have to admit I was nervous about doing it since she is so small and fragile, but it went well and she tolerated it well. I'm sure we will get lots more opportunities to change their diapers. We will become pros. We were also told that it is our responsibility to wash their little bedding and linens. For each girl their was a bag of their dirty laundry waiting for us. I will be washing them tomorrow. I look forward to washing them. It feels great getting to do something for them. There hasn't been much I could do for them up to this point so this is great.

Here is a picture of the little diapers our girls wear. They are so tiny. They fit in the palm of my hand.

Here is a picture of the girls bedding.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Little update

Just wanted to give everyone a little update as we know everyone looks forward to hearing more. The doctor gave us a call on our way home from church and all she had was positive news. All 3 girls have been weaned down on their vent settings. Of course they were only able to do this after sedating them. They need to sedate them to help their lungs heal as they tend to fight the vent when they are not sedated. Haley's heart rate is doing good. She sure did scare us yesterday when her heart rate got up into the 200's. Ashlyn is now getting 2 ml of breast milk every 3 hours. The other two (Rachel and Haley) will be restarted on feeds soon (within a day or two). Rachel's blood pressure is better and is no longer on blood pressure medication. All the girls are getting blood cultures routinely and so far none of them have come back positive. We do hope the infections are being taken care of with the antibiotics they are currently on. So today so far has been a good day for them. The doctor states they are "happy". I like to say they are behaving and being good for mom and dad. We don't like it when they try to scare us. I'm sure that will never end even when they move out of the house in 18 years or so. I'm thankful for the "happy" days and we hope and pray for more to come.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The wild NICU roller coaster

We sure are experiencing a wild NICU roller coaster ride. We had no idea what it would be like. We are finding it out for sure. Our visit with the girls today was definitely emotionally draining. Today Haley was changed to the oscillator vent due to high carbon dioxide levels. Once they changed her to that vent her blood gases looked much better and she seemed to be tolerating it better. Haley also was having a high heart rate. It has come down according to the last report we got. Haley's feeds are currently on hold as well as her abdomen was a little distended. Ashlyn is up and down on her oxygen saturation's. They are having to adjust her vent settings, but are trying not to chase her ups and downs. The doctor states this is common for premature infants. It's so hard to see her going up and down so much. We wish she would be more stable. Rachel is pretty stable right now. Her vitals are good. She still has not been restarted on the breast milk feeds. These ups and downs are definitely hard to handle, but God is in control and we just have to rely on him. It's in his hands and all we can do is pray and love them.

NICU Drama

Just returned home from the NICU, we practically live up there it seems. The girls seem to be having their ups and downs like so many of you have told us would happen. Little Ashlyn was all over the board tonight with her O2 saturation's. One minute she would be 100% the next she would dip down into the upper 30's to low 40's. The doctor finally had to give her a drug called pavulon, a drug used to sedate her because when she moves too much her O2 sats drop. Once the pavulon was administered she did just fine. Rachel seems to be doing much better today. They figured out what was causing her blood pressure to be low and her heart rate elevated. She has an infection from the first PICC line they put in. It clotted close to the heart and got infected, thus she will be on antibiotics for four to six weeks. Little Haley is definitely our eater. She just continues to move right along. She seems to be doing probably the best of them all at this present hour. As many of you know that seems to change every hour. Another day down and many more to go, but we are so thrilled that they continue to take micro steps forward. They have their moments when they take steps backwards, but all in all they are doing better. We are so grateful for these precious souls that God our Heavenly Father has entrusted to us. We love them and cherish them more than words can express. I can't wait for the day we are able to bring these beautiful little girls home. Thomas always seems to cry when he is with them. He and I have a very hard time leaving the NICU without them. Thomas and I will continue to move forward, and rely on the Lord for the health and protection of His beautiful girls that he has loaned to us while they are on this earth.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Today's News

It seems like a lot of stuff going on with the girls. So here is the update. First of all Ashlyn got an update ultrasound of her head. The ventricles had gotten bigger, but that was before they got out 4 cc's of fluid. That is a lot of fluid for her size. We would assume the ventricles had decreased after that. I'm glad they are able to get the fluid out by doing spinal taps versus us having to get a neurosurgeon involved. That could still be the case, but so far so good. The protein levels in Ashlyn's spinal fluid is very good. Protein levels are usually high with a grade 4, but not Ashlyn's. That is very encouraging. Rachel is doing better with her blood pressure. They suspect there is a little clot where her PICC line was removed that is infected. She will have to be on antibiotics for up to 6 weeks. That is ok as long as it will help her. Haley is doing good. She is basically right now just feeding and growing. Her latest head ultrasound showed an improvement with the grade 4 and the other side continues to have an unchanged grade 2. So all in all things are looking good. We continue to pray for their healthy to improve. We are grateful for the miracles they are.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Continuing on

We got back from Austin late Sunday night. Since we had not seen our little girls in a couple of days we went to the NICU to see them as soon as we could. We are now trying to get back into the swing of things around here. My mom stayed in Austin so now I am home alone until Thomas gets home from work. I am finding lots of stuff to do to pass the time. Good friends from our church come visit me or I go out to lunch with them. I have been hanging in there with all that has happened. Things will get better as time goes on. As they say time heals...

Update on the babies...
Today the babies are 3 weeks old. Time has flown by. They seem to be progressing along slowly. We met with a neurologist yesterday who spoke with us regarding the babies brains. He talked to us about the different procedures they can do to help with the swelling and with the fluid that is going into little Ashlyn's brain ventricles. He also discussed the effects that can come from what they are experiencing with their hemorrhages. He said that a grade 2 or higher will almost always have some type of effect on them, how much damage will only be determined by how severe it is and only time will tell. We pray that the damage will only be minimal, but again it is up to the Lord at this point. There is nothing we can do but love them and be there for them.
Haley is now getting 4 ml every 3 hours of my expressed breast milk through the tube. She is tolerating these feeds really well. Ashlyn is still getting only 1 ml. Rachel has not been tolerating any feeds due to her most recent infection. She has been getting antibiotics for a couple of days now and we hope she will be able to get started back on the feeds again soon. Haley pulled her breathing tube out today, but she is ok. It worked out for the best any way as she needed a bigger tube. She was having a problem with air leaking out of her other tube since she has grown. The doctor is still trying to wean them from the vent. Our little girls have had a hard time going down on the vent when they move around a lot. I feel that they are doing better than they were even a few days ago. I think they are getting stronger each day. We are so grateful for them and that they are still here with us.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grave side service

This morning at 10am we laid our precious Dallin, Kaitlyn and Braden to rest in Austin, Texas. The grave side service went very well. Thomas dedicated the grave, and gave a beautiful dedicatory prayer. My father (the babies grandfather) bore his testimony and talked about how we will not only be able to see them again, but also be able to raise them in the next life. We had a good friend sing a beautiful song. Our wonderful Bishop gave us some comforting advice and council. We are so grateful that friends from our ward were able to come the long distance to be there for the service. Thomas had his best friend Jason come from Dallas as well. It really meant so much to Thomas for him to make the trip from the Big D. We are grateful for all who pitched in to help. Everyone has been so supportive and we are so grateful for all who have prayed on our behalf. We have been strengthened by every ones prayers and support. We feel at peace knowing that our precious little ones are back home to that God who gave them life. We know they just needed their bodies and that was all. They didn't need to be tested in this life, they were too perfect to be here. Knowing that brings us great comfort. God be thanked for his matchless love and support in our trying times.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Baby steps forward

Today was an encouraging day in regards to our sweet little girls. We got news today of the weekly ultrasounds of the children's brains. While Ashlyn's seemed to be a little worse than it had been, they were able to do a spinal tap and drain 3 ml of spinal fluid from her which would help with the swelling in the brain. The real risk for Ashlyn is hydrocephalus which is known as "water on the brain". People with hydrocephalus have abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles, or cavities, of the brain. This may cause increased intracranial pressure inside the skull and progressive enlargement of the head, convulsion, and mental disability. Hydrocephalus can also cause death. The MD didn't know if it would work for several reasons. First it is risky for the baby because of infection. Each time you prick a baby of this size it takes a while for the hole to heal risking infections. Second to me I don't think the MD thought he would get any fluid out from a spinal tap, but he did. He told me he was amazed with how much he got. And thirdly you never know if a baby that is Ashlyn's size can handle the stress that a spinal tap causes. It can cause her O2 to desaturate, and her heart rate to plummet. She tolerated it extremely well the MD said. So while her ventricles were beginning to fill with spinal fluid he was able to take quite a bit out for a little girl her size. Hopefully that took pressure off the brain. Ashlyn is tolerating her breast milk extremely well. She even had a bowel movement today for the first time. Rachel and Haley seem to be doing really well. They had to sedate Ms. Rachel because she is extremely active which drops her O2 saturations. Her oxygen saturation's are so much better when she is calm, and she doesn't have to rely on the vent as much, which is a good thing. Rachel is tolerating the breast milk pretty well too, which is a great thing. The Last thing I want the girls to have is NEC and/or short gut syndrome. Last but not least little Haley seems to be doing great. They haven't started her on breast milk yet, but they did start her on the saline water feeds, she seems to be tolerating that great. They will try her hopefully tomorrow on the breast milk and see how she does. So over all I feel strongly that these beautiful little girls are doing ok. Each day seems to bring different challenges, but they are fighting hard. I hope they continue to develop and one day I will be able to bring them home. Mommy needs these little princesses. This evening we traveled here to Austin in preparation for our graveside service of Kaitlyn, Dallin and Braden. It will be a very difficult weekend to bury our children.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Life Continues On

After the long and painful time spent in the NICU very early this morning, we went back this evening to visit with our precious little girls. They are still doing ok. Rachel and Ashlyn have been started on very small feeds of my expressed breast milk. They seem to be tolerating it so far. This is a step in the right direction. Haley has not yet been started on the breast milk feeds. Her GI tract is still not ready for it. They are still critical and will be for a while. They are strong though. We can tell that every time we go see them. They will be okay. It was sad to not get to see our little Braden tonight. It is so hard seeing how we started out with going to the NICU to see all six of our children now it is down to three. We know where Kaitlyn, Dallin and Braden are, they are safe. They did not have to be tested in this life, they received their bodies and returned home to a loving Heavenly Father. We will now focus on Rachel, Haley and Ashlyn, they will come home. I have a strong feeling about that. I know the Lord will continue to watch over and bless our Little family. While the trial is extremely difficult to go through, it is what is needed for us to develop and become what God wants us to become. I know that every difficulty we face in life is for a reason. I am grateful for a Savior who has shown us the way, in handling difficulties in our lives. Trials can either make you or break you, it is up to you. "Life is beautiful when you learn to find the beauty in it"(Elder Richard G. Scott)

Braden Thomas Stansel

Wanted to update everyone on Braden. Braden returned to our loving heavenly father at about 2:45 this morning. We were able to hold him during his last moments. How special that was for us. He is a perfect angel. We are so grateful for the 2 weeks we did get to spend with him. We are so emotionally drained and exhausted. This has been so hard for us to lose 3 of our children within two weeks. I am confident that we will see Braden, Kaitlyn, and Dallin again one day. We will be reunited as a family and what a reunion it will be! God lives I know with out a doubt He does. We do not understand a lot of times why He does some of the things He does, but He loves each one of us. When one door closes another one always opens. I am eternally grateful for the knowledge I have that death isn't the end. Life goes beyond the grave. All these three little ones needed was a body. I would not know how to handle all that has happened to Thomas and I if we didn't know that we would see and raise our children that we lost again one day.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Up Hill Battle

What a day it has been! It all started at 1:45 this morning and continues on. Our little Braden is struggling. He is having issues with his lungs. He has an infection that is causing inflammation in his lungs and is therefore making his lungs not work well. We are hoping and praying he fights and makes it through this. We know that God is in control here and we know he will do what is best for Braden and the 3 girls. This has been so hard on us emotionally and we are so exhausted from going up then down. We are happy that the babies are 2 weeks old today. I know that every day they are here is a miracle and a blessing. We know we will be facing up hill battles and the road will be very long, but we are holding on to our faith that our children will be OK.

This week

Our visit with our precious children went well today. The nurses for each of the 4 are so informative and take the time to answer our questions. Sometimes the babies have the same night and or day nurse and other times they are different. We were told we can ask for primary care nurses. Its good to have primary care nurses as they get acquainted and bond with the babies. Its nice to have consistency with the care the nurses give them. We have requested some of the nurses to be primary care nurses. I'm sure as we get to know more of the nurses we will request more.
Each week the neonatologists rotate and this week its Dr. Jarriel. He's nice and explains things to us in a way we can understand. So far the neonatologist in the group have been nice.
The babies are still continuing on and making small progress. The doctor is trying to wean the vent settings down a bit and are watching out for when they can start feeds with breast milk. We are still waiting to see Haley's, Braden's and Rachel's eyes open. I was given a lock of Rachel's hair tonight. They had to shave a little off her head for a peripheral line. Her hair is dark like Thomas's. Thursday the the doctor will do a follow up ultrasound of their brains/head to see if the bleeding has improved or gotten worse. We hope and pray to hear that they have gotten better not worse.
We were told we could put a stuffed animal in each of their isolates. So we went and bought some cute teddy bears for them. Hopefully they will enjoy them.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Eye Opening!

Today's visit with the babies was good. We were so surprised and pleased with Ashlyn. As we were with her, she opened her eyes! It was such a special moment for us. It brought us much joy. We also found out that Haley opened her eyes last night, but when we saw her this evening she didn't have them open. I know that we will see them open soon. Rachel and Braden have not opened their eyes yet, but I'm sure that will come soon. They continue to hold their own and show some small improvements. It rotates daily on who is improving and who is having a small set back. We are always pleased with the improvements. We know there will be set backs, but we are confident they will continue to fight and pull through.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Progress and goals

Today we met face to face with one of the Neonatologist working with our babies. She wanted to give us a more in depth report. She discussed the progressions the babies have made. They are tolerating IV nutrition (TPN and lipids). Ashlyn has not needed platelets the past 48 hrs. Rachel is still doing well. She loves that pacifier! Haley and Braden are still doing OK. The doctor also discussed the goals she would like to see soon. She talked about starting very slow feeds of breast milk. I have been breast pumping and will be so excited when they can start taking it. The babies will get weekly head ultrasounds to monitor the bleeds. We hope and pray that they will get better and not worse. So all in all there are small steps forward and still some struggles.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thanks to all for the Comments!

I have been reading all the many wonderful comments you all have been sending us. I just want to say thank you so very much! They bring me much hope and peace. I love hearing about all the many miracle babies (preemies) that are now grown up and doing so well. We have had a tough time lately with the challenges our little ones are going through and wasn't sure what prognosis they have just yet, but with all the comments I feel more at peace that our little ones have a chance as well. They are fighters. We feel and see that every time we visit them. We are so grateful for all your many prayers. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! We love you all!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Challenging Day!

Today I received a call from one of the Neonatologists informing us that Ashlyn has a grade 4 hemorrhage on one side of her brain, and a grade 3 hemorrhage on the other side. Haley has a grade 4 hemorrhage on one side only. Rachel has a grade 1 on one side only. Braden will have his ultrasound tonight. So it has been a difficult day to swallow everything that has come to us. I am still confident that everything will work out for our family. I know that there is a loving God who has and always will take care of us, if we do what is right. I know that these beautiful children that the Lord has entrusted to us will be ok. We may have challenges(bumps in the road) but that is ok, we will do what ever is asked of us to do. I am grateful for all the Prayers and support we are getting from not only our local community but around the world. We will continue to move forward and rely on Him who does work miracles in our lives as we allow him to. As we visited with them tonight, each one received a blessing from Thomas and our bishop from our church. We always feel better when we actually are able to be with them each night. I would never be able to sleep if I couldn't see them and talk to them everyday. God be thanked for these beautiful little miracles that we feel so blessed to have.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Update on babies

Today I went to a NICU parent support group. There was not many parents at this particular meeting, but it will be a great group to continue to visit. There is a meeting every week and different topics are discussed.
Our visit with the babies the past couple of days has been good. We are always amazed with them. For being so tiny they seem so strong. It brought us great joy as we watched little Rachel suck on a little pacifier. It was so cute! She was so active and moving around a lot. She is feisty. The nurse gave me a pacifier just like the one Rachel was sucking on. The nurse also gave me a little diaper that they use for them. You can see how small they are! Ashlyn, Braden and Haley are doing good too. Each day we think they are getting stronger. We are also getting to know each of their little personalities as we watch them. We don't know how much weight they have gained since birth since they are not moved around too much. It will be a little while longer before we post pictures. Thanks again for your prayers! It really means a lot to us.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Media Blitz!

The past few days that we have been home, we have had a couple different media outlets come and pay us a visit here at home. Yesterday it was KPRC Channel 2 news at our home, and this afternoon we had Fox 26 News come to visit us as well. We continue to have strangers come up to us and say "we have been in their thoughts and prayers ever since we have seen you on the news". We are so grateful for good people who take the time to pray in our behalf. We have relied on those prayers many nights. Thanks again to all. Here are the interviews from the past few days.

Home away from home

We just got back home from our home away from home (the NICU). It is hard to have to go there every day and come home without our babies, but they are being taken care of very well. The nurses at Woman's are very nice and keep us informed. The babies are doing as well as expected and remain stable. Although we have a long road ahead of us, we will move forward in faith that God will continue to protect these little ones.

We are in the process of planning the burial of Dallin and Kaitlyn. We don't have a set date yet, but we are planning to bury them in Austin where I am from.

Again thank you to all for your prayers, thoughts and well wishes. We really appreciate it and do feel of your love.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Home Sweet Home!

Last night I was able to finally leave the Women's Hospital of Texas. It was a bitter sweet feeling for Thomas and I. Yes we are excited to be back in our Home and sleeping in our own bed, but it is extremely difficult to be home with out our precious daughters and son. In a way it will feel like we are still residences of the hospital because of how often we will be up there. As of this morning all the children are still stable and going strong. We have been truly blessed through all that has gone on. I know that there is a loving Heavenly Father and Saviour Jesus Christ who through our darkest hours when we felt we couldn't go on has carried us through. We are extremely blessed to be a part of a great ward. The Summerwood Ward has been there for us the whole way. They have shown their love and concern for us in many ways. They have served us so much, and we will be indebted to them for all that they have and continue to do. We love each of you so very much. We love our Bishop as well, Bishop Hales has been there every step of the way. We are grateful for his leadership and his love for us. We are grateful for all our friends and family who love us and want to always help us. We are overwhelmed with emotions because of all the kindness shown to us even from strangers we do not know.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Moving forward

Today was a better day for me as I am up and walking around more. Still in some pain, but that will get better each day. After being on bed rest for so long, my leg muscles are weak and it may take some time to get back to walking as fast as I used to. I had 17 staples removed from my c-section incision. Was surprised that didn't hurt to bad. I'm healing well according to my doctor and the nurses. So I am doing well.

Update on the babies...
Rachel, Haley and Ashlyn are doing well and hanging strong. Braden is OK, but has had some struggles. He seems to keep fighting though. Kaitlyn is the one we are worried about the most. She has had her fair share of struggles, but is still fighting. We are not sure what the next day or hour will bring. We miss our little Dallin so much, but we know he is in good hands with the Lord. We hope and pray for all of them all the time.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hard Day!

Today my Husband and I are morning the loss of our little boy Dallin Cory Stansel. Our precious son battled, fought and finally the good Lord took him home around 9:30 AM this morning. We know were little Dallin is, He is safe and waiting now for his family to join him one day. I know we will see Dallin again one day. All the other children are still fighting hard. They are not going to quit. We have named them all finally. the names are: Baby A - Haley Karin Stansel; Baby B - Braden Thomas Stansel; Baby C - Dallin Cory Stansel; Baby D - Ashlyn Louise Stansel; Baby E - Rachel Diane Stansel; Baby F - Kaitlyn Amanda Stansel. further info to come.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

They have arrived!

The babies made their unexpected arrival last night at 7:30pm (August 4, 2009). Amanda started bleeding around 6pm and her contractions increased. The contractions just got more frequent and stronger. Amanda was in a lot of pain. Dr. Kirshon tried to stop the contractions, but they just wouldn't stop even after giving her more turbutalline and magnesium sulfate. Amanda was dilated to 5 cm. That was not good as she had a cerclage and it was ripping her cervix. Dr. Kirshon had no choice but to do a c-section. He tried all he could. He did give Amanda the steroid shot, but the babies were delivered an hour after it was given so we don't think the shot had a chance to do it's work. Although the babies came much earlier than hoped they are all doing remarkably well for their size. We continue to be amazed by their fighting spirits. We will update as things calm down a bit. Amanda was running a temperature and had an elevated white blood count. She is a trooper we are all impressed by her stamina and strength. We appreciate your prayers in our behalf. We feel them and are blessed to know all of these matters are in God's hands.

Here is the order of each babies birth, their weights and lengths:

Baby A (female): Born at 7:30 pm; 1 lb 1.03 oz; 10 3/4 inches
Baby B (male): Born at 7:30 pm; 1 lb 1.01 oz; 11 inches
Baby C (male): Born at 7:31 pm; 13 oz; 10 1/4 inches
Baby D (female): Born at 7:31 pm; 12.3 oz; 10 inches
Baby E (female): Born at 7:31 pm; 1 lb 1.2 oz; 11 inches
Baby F (female): Born at 7:32 pm; 14 oz; 10 3/4 inches

Monday, August 3, 2009

Moved to A Suite

Today has been one of my better days as far as contractions go (knock on wood). While I have had some contractions, far less than the past few days. I really feel that the Lord has had a hand in helping me with these contractions. I will continue to put my faith in a loving God who I know will do what is not only right but best for Thomas and I. The CEO of the Hospital offered one of their suites to us today. It is a night and day difference than our last room. I liked the last room, it was just a bit small for us and our visitors. The suite has wood floors, more chairs for our visitors, the bathroom is much bigger, and much more space. It will help because my Mom is coming to stay with us, I would like her with me during the day when Thomas is at work. I am so happy I have made it through one more day with these little ones still inside cooking. I know everything will work out for the best.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Another Day Down!

Today has been a much better day in regards to contractions. While I have had a few contractions, I have had far less than yesterday. Dr. Kirshon told us that some contractions will be normal since there are so many babies in there. He just doesn't want to see more than four an hour. Dr. Kirshon was not on call this weekend so I look forward to speaking with him in the morning. He comes to visit me every morning. I have several questions for him. I am just taking this one day at a time. I thank Heavenly Father every day these litttles are still in there, because every day matters to there health and safety. I feel confident that my little ones will eneter this world in the Lord's time table. I will except what ever He wants for these babies. I know that as I continue to do everything Dr. Kirshon tells me to do, I will be ok.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bump In The Road

Today was a little scary for us. I was contracting again except this time with a little more cramping along with it, and some spotting. Dr. Adams who is the Physician on call this weekend, came in and checked my cervix and found that I am dilated to 2cm. They have done a great job controlling the contractions with a higher dose of Magnesium Sulfate. It is crucial to stop the contractions from coming so often because of the cerclage, can't afford to have my cervix ripped due to all the contractions. They would have to take the cerclage out and it would not be good if they did that. Therefore I am now officially on complete bed rest for the rest of the way, how ever long that may be. I can not get out of bed at all for anything. I still feel optimistic about everything, I feel that I am doing all that I can, I know that there is a greater power in control.