Jun 27, 2016

Home at Last!!!

The twins were discharged from the NICU at Grandview Medical Center today, June 27th - - two weeks after their birthday!

I left work after a few hours this morning to pick Julie up and head to the hospital around 10:30. When we arrived, Harris and Ellen were in their normal positions, just closer together.

We had to wait for the doctor to make her rounds to look the babies over one last time. While we waited, Harris and Ellen both got a bottle for lunch. Ellen had to wait her turn in the background. That's always been the case with Harris and their meals!

Soon, the doctor arrived and reaffirmed what we've been hearing - the babies are doing great, eating more and putting on weight. The twins got a diaper change and a new outfit. Harris wore the same outfit that I wore home from the hospital after I was born. Graham wore the same outfit when he came home too.

A representative from the Grandview marketing department came by to take our picture for their Facebook page and shared some interesting news. Harris and Ellen are the first twins to be discharged from Grandview's NICU.

They didn't make this a public post so I couldn't embed it. Had to take a screenshot.

After some (double) paperwork, it was time to pack up and leave! Harris and Ellen liked their new ride, the BabyBarrow 4000. Ellen is on the left.

The ride home was very quick and Graham was so excited to see his new brother and sister! He RAN out the front door to greet us!

He couldn't take his eyes off them, even when we were trying to get some family pics on the front steps.

Here's a better look at what the twins wore home. I think they enjoyed the scorching temps outside. They were sleeping just fine.

Graham couldn't wait to get the babies inside. He seemed to gravitate to Harris but I bet that will change.

Graham wanted to be a helpful brother and asked to hold the babies as soon as we brought them into the nursery.

Talk about a surreal moment. We just brought Graham home from the hospital the other day. Wow!

The rest of the afternoon has been all about feeding, preventing naps from being disrupted and changing diapers. We're very fortunate to have Julie's mother stay with us to help with these things and so much more.

In between rain showers, I manage to get some bows on the mailbox. I don't think this is what Julie had in mind but it was my best effort. I probably should have gotten some instructions from her before descending down that driveway.

So far, so good tonight. Julie is bringing back her super swaddling skills - Harris and Ellen don't have a choice but to like it!

Keep those prayers coming!! We've got schedules to sync up and double the diapers to change but with your continued support, we can do it! Thank you!!!

Jun 26, 2016

Update on the Twins

Julie, Graham and I really appreciate all of the kind words after the arrival of Harris and Ellen. Since we touched on their first day with us, the route to the NICU has become a very familiar path. I would like to say that Harris and Ellen have receive tremendous care in Grandview Medical Center's NICU and we know that we're very fortunately to be relying on the staff there for very routine care.

We've received calls, texts, emails and messages from all circles of our lives. A big outpouring of support came from our church family at Covenant Presbyterian. This has been a wild year for our Sunday school class - we've collectively welcomed 17 babies since January and 6 more are on the way. Our class has been one big team, assisting each other with baby showers, meals and prayer. Covenant as a whole has been supportive of us with prayers and help with Graham. The morning after the twins were born, Pastor Danny Giffen visited us at the hospital. Danny is a very knowledgeable and sharing person. Julie and Danny have known each other for a long time so having him come pray with us was extra special!

The next few days in the hospital were spent making more trips to and from the NICU to check on the twins. and to help with feeding, when possible. 

Harris spent a little more time under his hood, which helped with his oxygen levels. 

And Ellen stayed warm and comfortable in her incubator. 

And we continued to host special visitors, including Grandma Jane

and big brother Graham!

The twins have shown improvement each day. Soon, Harris no longer needed his hood and both babies were eating enough that their IVs were removed, which made it easier for us to hold them and feed them. We also realized that they really like their pacifiers.

A couple of interesting observations during our stay in the hospital included...

Lots of red plate covers on light switches and outlets. They're everywhere. I was told that the color red indicated that these sources of electricity were supported by the emergency generator. I have no idea if that's true.

Also, Grandview Medical Center has wheelchairs wide enough for two people.

We noticed that Ellen has really long fingers...

and Auntie Elle helped us get a good side-by-side comparison of Graham and Harris. With his hat on, Harris looks a lot like Graham. Harris is on the left here:

But I'm not so sure without his hat. We've said all along that he looks like Julie's Uncle Ray. Here he is after a bath:

Ellen looks a lot like Graham to me.

Eventually, Julie started to feel better and it was time for us to leave the hospital. The night before we left, the hospital treated us to a candlelight dinner in our room!

It was great! Julie had steak and I had salmon. They even gave us some bubbly. 

And if you're wondering how a candle works in a hospital, they're very realistic but not an actual flame.

It wasn't easy but Julie left our babies in the NICU and headed home the next day. Fortunately, we live very close to the hospital and can visit as frequently as needed. We celebrated Father's Day with no children in the house (Graham went to Camden to spend time with my parents). Harris and Ellen gave me this cool shirt:

The following week - the week after the twins were born - saw even more improvement from Harris and Ellen. They were both eating a lot and with fewer lines and tubes connected to them, Julie got to hold the twins together. I think this was the first time they've been side-by-side since their birthday. Harris is on the left here:

Towards the end of the 2nd week, both babies were meeting benchmarks and we were told that they would likely come home together with just a little more time in the NICU. Knowing that, Julie and I were asked to complete some infant CPR training and spend some extended time with both babies in a "halfway room". That's my term. From what I determined, it's like a hotel room in which families can adjust to life with their new babies before transitioning home. The room has a big bed, a TV and a shower in the bathroom.

Julie fed Harris and he showed that he is a good burper.

The infant CPR training consisted of practicing chest compressions on a doll while following along with video instructions.

The training couldn't have some at a better time as Julie showed that she had no clue which end of a baby to even administer CPR.


So here we are...Sunday, June 26th...the night before the twins are scheduled to come home. We've made sure to spend lots of special time with Graham this weekend and explained that Harris and Ellen are coming home soon. He seems ready and so are we!

Julie and I will be sure to keep everyone posted - thanks again for your prayers and support!

Jun 14, 2016

Ellen and Harris Arrive

June 13, 2016 - that's the day Ellen and Harris arrived. That's a good thing for many reasons but especially since Julie's discomfort was at its peak over the last week or so. What an amazing woman I am married to and what an amazing big brother Graham will be!

The day started with a much-needed reminder in the form of a very timely Bible version. Each morning, I receive an emailed verse of the day. My Bible verse for the day our twins were to be born was Isaiah 61:7. I cannot make this stuff up!!

A photo posted by The Bible App (@youversion) on

My wonderful mother-in-law came to stay with us the night before, which was great since we had to leave the house very early on the 13th. Having Grandma Jane stay behind with a snoozing Graham was a big help - just as she's been throughout Julie's pregnancy. We are also fortunate to have the Schaffelds, our very kind church friends, offer to take Graham to Vacation Bible School, which started on the 13th and will keep Graham's mind occupied while we're at the hospital.

After arriving at the hospital, Julie was examined and tagged. A lot.

It was determined that both babies were head down, which was very surprising to Julie given all of their movement over the last few days. But that was a good sign and meant Julie would try to deliver the babies. A pitocin drip was started to ramp up her contractions.

Around 8:00 am, Julie's doctor paid a visit and immediately broke Baby A's (Harris) water. About 40 minutes later, I excused myself (!!!) from the room while Julie received her epidural. At that point, we were told it would only be a matter of time before things started happening.

That matter of time turned into a couple of hours. Julie actually caught a few Zs all while her wonderful nurses paid frequent visits to check on her and the babies. Just when it seemed the lull would never end, the doctor came back in and, after another quick check, ordered the delivery team to assemble. Within minutes, the room was filled with no less than 10 nurses and technicians. Julie was put into position and THREE minutes later, Harris and Ellen were born. That was VERY different than what we experienced with their older brother!

Harris arrived first and starting crying immediately. Ellen was right behind and she was just as loud! The sight and sound of her almost knocked me to my knees but I (somewhat) composed myself when I noticed how causally Julie was chatting with the doctor as chaos whirled around us. Her condition after delivering these babies was great...also VERY different than what she experienced on the day Graham was born. I told you she was amazing.

As the team examined and cleaned the babies, we had plenty of opportunities for pictures and attempting to hold them at the same time. Special thanks to Dr. Heaton for keeping me focused on the task at hand!!

The babies were then given an opportunity to eat. Ellen displayed uncanny instincts and fed very well. Harris, eh...not so much. Eventually, they were both taken to the NICU. Ellen needs to gain some weight (fat) in order to regulate her body temperature on her own. Harris began to grunt a little - a sign to the nurses that his lungs weren't quite fully developed. Julie wasn't allowed to eat since the night before so a cheeseburger from the cafeteria was a sight for sore eyes!

Julie was moved to another room to spend the remainder of our hospital stay. Fortunately, visiting hours aren't restricted at our room or the NICU. We spent the rest of the afternoon welcoming visitors and making trips to see Harris and Ellen.

My parents were the first on the scene and sat patiently in a nearby waiting room. When I went to greet them and escort them back to see Julie, I had to laugh at the sight of them posted up next to a very prominent artifact from Wilcox County.

An encased Gees Bend Quilt and accompanying placard. Wonders will never cease!

Mom, Dad and I paid a visit to Ellen and Harris after checking on Julie.

Shortly after returning to Julie's room, Julie's parents came by with the man himself - Grahambo!! I'm not sure what he thought of his mommy in the bed and I think it always blows his mind a little to see all of his grandparents in the same room.

Julie, her parents, Graham and I visited the twins next. Graham was required to wear a mask, which he wasn't digging. For the most part, he seemed interested in the babies but also unsure what to make of them. He spent the most time in Ellen's room and stated that she was "teeny tiny".

We returned to Julie's room, where Graham had a chance to open his big brother gift from Ellen and Harris. More new trains - they know the way to his heart!

Soon, Aunt Sarah Harper arrived bearing the same gift she brought us when Graham was born: delicious cupcakes from Edgar's Bakery!!

She was eager to see her new niece and nephew!

Next up, Aunt Jessica and Uncle Clay stopped by with much-needed sandwiches from Newk's. In addition to this kindness, they brought some very nice gifts for our family. They'll be welcoming a new cousin for Graham, Ellen and Harris later this year - can't wait to get them all together!

We wrapped up our day by enjoying some alone time with our new babies. What a sight to see Julie holding them! It was an awesome way to conclude such a amazing day.

There are a lot more pictures where these came from. We'll be sharing more soon! Thanks to everyone for your prayers and thoughts - keep them coming!