Wiersma Family Blog

A glimpse into our lives as a family with micro-preemies. Our twins boys (Lovingly referred to as our Miracle Men) were born almost 16 weeks early.

Our journey continues when our son Max was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 3. This is his story....

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A better day

Despite the struggles of last night, Kate and I were both able to get some sleep.  Kate woke up every three hours to pump, but I slept through at least one of those, which was nice.  We woke up and called for an update on the boys and heard that they had a good night.  The doctors and nurses made a couple of adjustments to their vent settings, but it was a pretty quiet night.  Kate and I ran a few errands this morning.  Kate cannot drive for a few weeks because of the C-section, so I got to chauffeur her to Target to purchase some "nursing mom" specific apparel.  It was a great experience for me and I was able to explore some departments at Target that I didn't even know existed.  We got Kate one of those super cool motorized carts to get around in, and I was really jealous.  I have driven them before, but she had a legitimate medical reason for using it, so she was able to drive around guilt free.  I think the doctors need to change their limitations to specifically preclude women recovering from C-sections from driving motorized carts.  That girl about brought that store down.  I could not stop laughing.  She was looking for some more comfortable clothes to wear around the house and hospital, and she would be cruising along, see something she liked, hit the brakes, throw it in reverse, decide she didn't like it after all, and continue to the next rack of clothes.  So many people were staring at us because I was wiping happy tears out of my eyes while she was yelling at me to stop laughing because it was making her laugh, and that hurts her abdominal muscles which are very tender right now.  With out a doubt the most fun I have had at Target ever.

We came home from running errands and headed out to the hospital.  We got an update from Max's nurse that he was having a good day.  The doctors have decided to back down the frequency of his blood gas draws, so that is a good sign.  They did say that he was having a little more "stuff" leftover in his stomach after they feed him the breast milk.  They said this is very typical but might mean they need to hold off on future feedings for a little bit.  The amount they are giving both boys is so small and they call it "gut priming" and is not proving really any nutrition, but just getting the digestive system off to a running start.  Wes apparently got a little bug up his rear late in the morning and decided he didn't need any help from the ventilator to breathe, so he just dislodged his vent tube.  This is the second time he has done this and he often sleeps holding on to the tube like he is trying to suck his thumb, but this time he pulled it out far enough that they had to re-intubate him with a new tube.  This apparently caused quite a stir and required a large number of nurses and doctors to get the tube placed back correctly.  His nurse Cathy (who is a wonderful lady and a great nurse) said that after all of this stimulation and commotion, he opened his eyes and glared at her.  You might remember that we had been hoping that Wes would have a BM because he had been fed for almost 48 hours with no dirty diaper.  He had one.  Nurse Cathy had never seen anything like it.  She said that a normal BM for a kid his size is 2-4 (can't remember the unit of measurement they use), and Wes' registered on the Richter scale at an Earth shattering 14!! That is 3.5 times the normal amount.  I washed my hands up and gave him a little high-five...he makes his dad so proud!!  Cathy said it was everywhere and just another way he was "getting back" at her for not letting him breathe by himself.  

Kate and I continue to struggle with the physical distance between us and the boys, but we really enjoyed sitting at their bedside for a few hours today.  We want to say thank-you to everyone who has gone out of their way to help us.  We are just so overwhelmed.  We have received so many thoughtful cards and gifts that we don't even know where to start.  So I am going to use this blog to say thanks.  Thank-you to all of our neighbors in Esker Creek (yeah Drenthe!!) for the gas cards...such a thoughtful and generous gift.  Thank-you to our small group from Haven CRC for all the things you have done for us, the gift cards, the nursing supplies (at least I think that is what they are), etc.  To the person or group of persons who edged our landscaping an laid down all new bark.  To the food fairies that anonymously dropped of a fridge and freezer full of food (my parents were kind enough to offer to do some grocery shopping and ended up taking most of it home when they got here because there wasn't any room!!).  To the Commercial lending group at Macatawa Bank for the generous gift and thoughtful card, as well as the card we received from the retail group too...what a blessing to work for such a great organization.  These things all mean so much - thank-you so much.  Kate and I have begun to pray that we will be able to graciously receive these gifts and use them to further glorify the name of God.   As we have been blessed by so many people, people we do not even know, we too hope that we can be a blessing to others.  Last but certainly not least, a HUGE thank-you to everyone who has offered up prayers on behalf of myself, Kate, and especially Max and Wes.  The road ahead is long, but with the support of our family and friends, we are prepared to walk the path to the glory of our Father in Heaven.

As an aside, you may notice that I have elected to add some advertisements to this blog.  My entrepreneurial spirit just couldn't resist.  I will report my findings to those of you that may be interested in how this whole Google AdSense thing works, and for the rest of you, I hope it does not provide too large a distraction.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Some good, some bad

We got the results of the boys' heart and brain ultrasounds.  Both boys have PDA, which means that the valve that is supposed to close at birth in a full-term baby has not closed.  That is not good news, but we were probably expecting to hear that.  The brain scan for Wes was great, no evidence of bleeding at all.  Max's brain scan showed roughly the same thing the last scan showed, which is good also.  That means that the hemorrhage is not actively bleeding.  This is key because the doctors can treat the PDA with medicine to try and get the valve to close, but only if there is no active bleeding because the medicine reduces the amount of platelets in the blood, so clotting becomes more difficult.  We are happy with these results.  The brain bleeding cannot be stopped or treated in kids this size, but the PDA is very common and very treatable.  We certainly pray that the medicine (which they have already started to administer, it is given every 24 hours for three days which equals one "course" of treatment) is able to cause the valve to close.  The doctors said that they can try the medicine for up to 3 "courses", but after that, surgery will be the likely method of closure.  Do to the delicacy of their skin, this would not be done for 10-14 days.  Overall, the boys had a good day.  Wes continues to need only "room air" or 21% oxygen to keep the ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide in his blood where the doctors like it to be.  Max has consistently been in the 25% range, but they did have to bump him up a bit this evening into the 35% range because his oxygen saturation dropped a bit.  They have both been fed breast milk directly into their stomachs now for more than 24-hours.  They have tolerated this well so far, but we are still waiting for Wes to have a BM.  The doctors and nurses do not seem terribly concerned about this yet, but they are keeping an eye on it.

We were sad to hear that Kate is healing so well that they kicked us out today.  We thought that we were going to have another day there because of the length of time Kate has been on bed rest, so we were not mentally prepared to come home.  It turned out to be a very difficult trip.  We hung out with the boys a lot today and went back down to see them after dinner.  We prayed with them and loaded up and came home.  Kate was very emotional about leaving the hospital and being so far away from the little guys.  We realize that their livelihood's are in the hands of their Abba Father, but there was a lot of security for Kate and I in being so close.  When we got off the highway at the 16th street exit, the tears started to flow. In our dreams, we would be coming home from the hospital with Max and Wes sleeping in their car seats.  The reality is that we will be commuting 30+ minutes to spend time with the boys for many many months.  In the same breath we are praising God for the gift He gave us with these two amazing little boys and we just love them so much.  It is such a strange mix of emotions which apparently manifest themselves in the form of tears.  I probably should have pulled over because I could hardly see through the tears, and I am fairly sure I killed a small animal with my car.  We pulled into the garage and just wept.  We almost left to go back to the hospital because the thought of going into the house and seeing the nursery and the empty cribs just seemed like too much.  After we prayed and asked God for the strength we would need to handle the physical separation from Max and Wes we decided to go inside.  We were bracing for a crushing wave of emotions, but what we felt was a surge of love.  Our house had been cleaned up, people had purchased food (thanks Mom and Dad and some other food fairy), my sister dropped of a pump that one of her friends lent to Kate...all things that made "coming home" a lot more bearable.  I know for a fact that this place looked like a pig sty after Kate had not been home for 20-days and I had only stopped by to shower and change my clothes.  Then I went outside to get some stuff and noticed that someone or something anonymously edged the landscape all the way around our house and put down all new bark.  Kate and I really almost feel embarrassed.  What did we ever do to deserve all of this love, kindness and selflessness?  Our feeling is that we did nothing to deserve it.  What an amazing representation of Christ's love for His people.  We hear society say things like, "how can you believe in a god that you cannot see?"  I wish that those people could see the world through my eyes.  I cannot turn my head without seeing God.  I see Him in Max and Wes, in Kate, our families, our friends, in emails, posts on this blog, in fresh food in our fridge, and bark in our yard.  Thank-you all for being Jesus to Kate, myself and our sons.  And thank-you God for being so very different and so much bigger than we can imagine.  We are sinners that deserve nothing but an eternity in Hell, but Christ loved you and I so much that He selflessly gave His life for us.  Now that I am the father of two precious boys, Jesus' sacrifice on the cross has become even more unbelievable to me.  I would give my life for either of my two boys without a seconds notice.  God the father watched his son Jesus die on a cross for me, and He held the power to change the circumstances and did not.  What I once thought was an amazing story of God's love for His people has, over the last 4 days, become and unfathomable story.  Because if it was my son on that cross and I held the ability to save him at the expense of every believer and non-believer on this earth...we would all be going to hell.  I will spend my life wondering how You could do that, because my human mind cannot comprehend a love that deep and that wide.  I pray that I will spend that same life glorifying Your name because of that love.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quick prayer request

I just wanted to get a post on here for all you faithful warriors that have been holding Max and Wes up in prayer. Both boys are having a brain and heart ultrasound tomorrow morning. We are not sure when the results of those ultrasounds will be available, but we covet your prayers. Max already had one brain ultrasound and we are aware that he has some issues in his brain that the doctors are saying are "concerning" and they will keep track of. The ultrasounds tomorrow will look first at their hearts and see if they have Payton Ductus Arteriosis (PDA), which is when a valve near the heart stays open after birth. This valve is open when in utero to facilitate the flow of blood between mother and baby, but shuts when the baby is born to "redirect" more blood flow to the lungs. The doctors said that 1 in 3 "micro preemies" has PDA. It can be treated with medicines, but if that is not successful, surgery is required to close the valve. They will also do an ultrasound of the brain. This is primarily to look for bleeding on the brain. We know that Max has a stage 1 hemorrhage and we pray that is unchanged or improved. We do not know what to expect with Wes, so our prayer is that he does not have a hemorrhage or any other concerns.

Kate is having a much better day. Thank-you for everyone who prayed for her. We prayed last night that Heaven send its angels to combat the forces of Satan who were planting lies in Kate's head that she should have fought harder or done something different to prevent our boy's predicament. She still struggles seeing the boys with all of their tubes and monitors, but her motherly instincts are really starting to kick in. She is starting to gently remind them about behaving and being nice to the nurses. Speaking of the nurses, they have been absolutely phenomenal. They just love our little boys so much, and love to tell us all the funny things they did when we weren't there. It really takes a special person and a HUGE heart to come in to work everyday and do what they do.

Please check out the pictures of Max and Wes below. We are really proud of them and want everyone to see them even though they live in a little clear box. You can click on the pictures to see them in more detail and see how amazing their tiny little bodies really are. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!

Some pictures

Here is a picture of Wes. At this time, both he and his brother were under an ultraviolet light to help diffuse the amount of billirubin in their blood, so they do look very red. And their skin is not really taught yet, so they have the texture and color of the skin on a steamed tomato. The other faithful followers of the Food Network should know exactly what I am talking about.

Here is a picture of Max. He held on to my finger tip for a few seconds and my sister-in-law was able to get a picture of it. As you can see, they are not very big, but physically they are fully formed. We pray that their organs continue to develop as beautifully as their exteriors have.

Their little diapers are really adorable too. They are so small, yet hang down to the boys' shins. we have been handing them out as souvenirs.

They both had a good night with no big negative changes, which is great. They did start feeding them some breast milk today at 2:00 by way of syringe (1.5 ml or 1/5th of a teaspoon) into a tube that goes directly into their stomach. They do not have a gag reflex at all, so this is a painless process for Max and Wes. The nurses will then check back in a number of hours to measure how much of the milk was absorbed and decide if they should continue feeding them or wait a while. They will begin to feed them every 3 hours if they tolerate it well.

Just wanted to get some pictures of our boys out their to show off to the world.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Emotions are setting in

Well day 2 is almost in the books. By in large the boys are doing well. They made some improvements and the doctors turned down their "vents" a bit, but then their oxygen level dropped a little bit, so they had to turn them back up. To be more clear (as I am learning these things as we go), the ventilator (vent) is an apparatus that actually breathes for them. They can either add oxygen or take it away based on the ratios of oxygen and carbon dioxide in their blood. They draw what they call a "blood gas" every few hours to examine these levels and adjust their settings as needed. We talked to a doctor this morning and he kind of laid out that we need to expect a roller coaster ride (we know a bit about those) and that we really need to focus on our own personal health and mental strength in an effort to prepare for the not so good days. He also told us that Max does have some bleeding in his brain which they will continue to monitor and is very much "par for the course". He also said that there is some evidence that Max had a stroke at some point based on a blood clot that they found. What this means, they do not know, and may not know for a long time. The third thing they found was that Max does not have a septum pellucidum, which is a thin membrane of nervous tissue in the brain. This could be a significant issue, or it may not be an issue at all. There are just a lot of unknowns right now.

Kate and I had kind of a rough day as the adrenaline of yesterday wore off and the weight of the journey ahead set in. Kate is really struggling with missing the boys and feeling them move around in her belly. She has a difficult time seeing the boys in their little incubators because she feels like she is somehow responsible for them having to be put through all of this and face such a big fight. Please pray that God will give Kate the peace of knowing that she did EVERYTHING she could to give our boys such a good chance at life. Without going into too much gory detail, the breast pumping exercise has not been real rewarding yet either. The neonatal doctors and nurses have stressed how important it is for the Max and Wes, but emotionally it is tough for Kate knowing that our sons cannot yet digest her milk. We are both overwhelmed with all the information that has been thrown at us, and we are scared for Max and Wes. We are also struggling because we have not been able to hold our boys yet. We almost don't feel like parents yet in a lot of ways...this just isn't how we "imagined" this whole process would go. Our little boys are just beautiful, and I really want to get some pictures on here to show them off (but I haven't made it home yet). They look so small next to my hand...and I cannot help but wonder how small they must look in the hands of our Almighty Father. While Kate and I cannot yet hold our precious little baby boys, we find strength in knowing that their Creator has never let them go.

Friday, March 27, 2009

So far, so good

Wow. What day is it? Where am I? What planet are we on? This has certainly been the craziest 24-hour period in our lives!! I would love to recount all of the events of last night because there were so many God moments through the whole process from Kate feeling like the contractions were building in intensity and duration to when the boys were delivered. I will just stick with the highlights. When we were moved downstairs to the labor and delivery floor at about 12:30 A.M. this morning, one of the first nurses in the room was a friend of my Aunt Nancy named Connie. She told me that she knew my aunt and uncle and that she had been praying for us for a little over a week now. She was kind of in charge of taking care of me while about 75 people took care of Kate and the boys...more on that in a minute. When they checked Kate at about 1:00, she was dilated to 5-6cm and the decision was made to deliver the twins. As soon as that decision was made, everyone in that room knew what needed to happen. Two nurses were talking with Kate and helping her "breathe through" the contractions while another head nurse was explaining to Kate what was going to happen in the following minutes. This head nurse was talking with Kate and I while using two phones to coordinate and get all of the appropriate people to the appropriate places. I felt like I was watching a Navy SEAL team perform a "breach and clear" maneuver with surgical precision (pun intended). About 5 minutes later they wheeled Kate away to prep her for the impending C-section and told me to "gown-up" and they would come and get me when she was ready. Nurse Connie then assisted me in this "gowning-up" routine. This is where God decided to inject a little humor into the night. Connie sized me up and came back with kind of a coverall type deal. I thought it looked a little small for my frame, but decided to give it a go any way. I was able to get my legs in, but when I pulled it up to put my arms through, the garment turned out to be about 2 feet shorter than I am. I looked like I was getting ready for a flash flood or wearing scrub capris. I thought Connie was going to hurt herself she was laughing so hard. I told her I was flattered she thought I was a skinny, 5-foot tall girl, but we might need to try a different size. She went to find a larger coverall and we were able to get my arms in and the collar up around my shoulders, but that is where it ended. I felt like I was in a straight jacket and my range of motion was zero. I started singing "fat guy in a little hospital coverall" in my head because I could have split that thing down the back from head to toe with little effort. Again, Connie was wiping tears from her eyes and we almost had to get another nurse to help get the thing off. I ended up using some scrub pants that I could have fit into twice, and a top that was at least tolerable.

They came and got me and I went in to the operating room. There were four doctors tending to Kate, two nurses on "stand-by" and two teams of six people each from the neonatal unit ready to tend to the boys when they were delivered. They had kind of forgot about me so by the time I got into the OR things were well underway. I took a seat up by Kate's head and held her hand. She was crying and really scared for the boys. She kept saying, "I am so sorry, Mark...it is just too early, they need more time". We prayed together and cried together. Maxwell James (his middle name is in honor of my dad, James Wiersma) was born at 1:51 A.M. and Wesley Mychael (his middle name is in honor of Kate's Mom who's name is Myra, but many of her friends and family call her "Myke" for short, hence the spelling) was born at 1:52 A.M. Kate was slipping in and out of consciousness, and now says she remembers very little about the whole event. She leaned over and said ,"don't let go of my hand, okay?" I responded, "I won't, but I have to leave for a minute because I think I am going to pass out". The emotion, the temperature in the room, the fact that I was breathing into a surgical mask...all these things kind of built up at the same time and I was starting to feel a little woozy. The anesthesiologist took one look at me and asked if I wanted to sit down. I told him I could walk out to the hall just fine. He was not a big guy, and he offered to give me a hand. When I stood up, he came up to about my shoulder. I could see in his eyes that he didn't want me holding on to him too tight if I was feeling a little uneasy...because if I started to go down, he was certainly coming down with me. I made it to the hallway and Connie got me some orange juice and I got to see out little boys as the swept them away to the neonatal unit. I was feeling better so I went back in to be with Kate. She was VERY relaxed at this point and I just held her hand and told her how beautiful out two sons were. As they finished up and were preparing to move Kate to a new bed, she started singing. The anesthesiologist told me she was singing when she came in as well. He asked if I new what song she was singing, and I told him she is singing "Be still and know that I am God". He kind of looked at me for a minute, and then he put his head closer to Kate so he could hear her singing it. It was so beautiful. Kate has no memory of this event but I will never forget it. They moved Kate to the recovery room and it was about 2:30 at this point. I think Connie's shift was done, but she told one of the nurses in the recovery room that she could leave and Connie stayed with us. She got Kate comfortable and then she prayed with us. Kate doesn't remember this either, but it was so special. We waited there for about two hours and then they wheeled Kate in her bed all the way to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), which is about 14 miles from the recovery room. We got to see out little boys, name them, and take a few pictures. I will try to post some on here when I run home sometime tomorrow. Their hands are just a little wider than the finger nail on my index finger. And they are just beautiful.

Mom and Dad Blauwkamp and Becky and Henry (Kate's older sister and brother-in-law) and I went down to see them around noon and it was just really special. Mom B's grandmotherly instincts kicked in immediately. She kept saying how they were such sweet, precious little boys and that she couldn't wait to hold them and take them home. At about 2:00 Kate, myself, and my parents went and visited again. This was Kate's first time seeing them with a few less drugs in their system, and it was really beautiful. My Dad started in with the nurses about the technical things that were going one while we just admired their tiny little frames. I went back down to hang out with them alone tonight. It was great. I got to put my hands on them and pray for them and tell them how much their mom and dad love them, and how we can't wait to tell them about the love of their Heavenly Father, which surpasses even our own.

Max and Wes are both doing good so far. Wes needed a little less attention and has actually been weened down almost completely off the ventilator. He is not ready to breathe on his own (he needs the ventilator to create enough pressure to open his lungs), but he is breathing 21% oxygen, which is what you and I breathe. He also had a chemical in his blood that was a little high (they say it is very common in extreme preemie babies), so they had him under a UV lamp to neutralize this chemical. He looked like he was working on his tan. He even had these sweet little foam sunglasses on. His hat was off too, and he has some hair, but it has not started to curl yet. Max has made a lot of good changes too. He was on a high-frequency ventilator this morning to get the oxygen level in his blood up. He responded well and they were able to back him down off of this ventilator all together and are currently using a different type of ventilator just like his brother, and he is also breathing 21% oxygen. They did take a scan of his brain earlier today to check for any bleeding. We have not yet received the results from this test, but please pray that any bleeding be minimal and not a major issue. The nurses also told us that the boys are in what they call the "honeymoon" phase, meaning that they are still operating like they are in their mother's womb. This is likely why they have responded so well to the ventilators so far. They said this phase can last a few hours for a few days, and the longer the better. I don't fully understand everything they were saying, so Dad, if you are reading this, maybe you can shed more light from what you remember, I know you were grilling the nurses for all the info you could get.

All in all, it has been a great day. Throughout this journey we have learned so much about what it means to take things one day at a time, and we have learned even more about God's providence in carrying us through each day. It seems that the last 17-days in the hospital and in and out of labor have been a tool that God used to prepare us for a long journey of visiting our sons in the hospital for likely many many months. We do not know what the future holds for our little boys, and the developmental statistics for children born at 24-25 weeks is not the most encouraging stuff to read. If God's plan is to work a miracle, and these two boys grow to be "fully functioning' men of God, then Praise the Lord!! If God's plan is to work a miracle, and these two boys do not fully develop physically and/or mentally, then Praise the Lord!! If God's plan is to work a miracle and then call these boys home to be with Him, then Praise the Lord!! Our prayer is that Kate and I do not try to fathom the plans of our Abba Father, because we are not like Him. He promises to give us our "daily bread", and Kate and I will need to lean on that promise over the next number of days, weeks, and months. God has already worked a miracle in our lives. Pray that He continues to do the same in the lives of Max and Wes...the two most beautiful things I have ever seen.

I also want to take this opportunity to tell you all how amazing my wife is. Kate has been through what I can only describe as hell over the lat 17 days. She went into labor 4 times and fought tooth and nail for our little boys. She, by God's grace and strength, managed to hold onto our sons for 2 and a half weeks. When we went into Holland Hospital, Kate was 22 weeks 3 days pregnant. They estimated that the boys weighed around 435 (Max) and 415 (Wes) grams at that time. Over the next 17-days Kate was poked, prodded, drugged, checked and re-checked. Whenever any doctor would suggest a new medication, her response was always, "as long as it will not hurt the boys and you think it will keep me pregnant, I will do it." Her selfless devotion to our sons astounds me. When she was in the recovery room after her C-section she kept crying and telling me she was so sorry she couldn't hold onto them any longer and that they needed more time. It just broke my heart. When she delivered Max and Wes, they weighed approx. 750 and 735 grams. The 17-days she fought for our boys has made all of the difference in their chance of survival. I am so proud of her for fighting so hard, for leaning on God when she was scared, for singing "Be still and know that I am God" in the operating room after delivering her babies at 24 weeks 6 days. She has left an indelible mark on me, and although I may be twice her size and the likely favorite in an Indian Leg Wrestling match, Kate is without a doubt the "strong one" in our marriage. Please pray that God will comfort Katie as she is missing the boys being in her belly. She feels lonely without them, and I think part of her still feels like she let me and the boys down by delivering them too early. The reality is that she fought harder than anyone would have fought for those boys. Her love and devotion for our sons is undeniable and is a direct reflection of the love she has for her savior Jesus Christ. She has taught me what unconditional love "looks" like, and I am so incredibly blessed to call her my wife and the mother of my two baby boys.


Last night was one we will never forget. Kate's contractions started picking up again last night, and this time, they became increasingly painful and longer in duration. There was no stopping it this time. After a whirlwind couple of hours, Maxwell James was born at 1:51 a.m. and Wesley Michael was born at 1:52 a.m. on 3/27/09. They have survived their first 7+ hours of life. Max was born weighing 1 pound 10 ounces and was 12 inches long. Wes was born weighing 1 pound 9 ounces and was 11 3/4 inches long. Wes is currently breathing with a limited ventilator system and he is breathing regular "atmosphere." Max required more attention for his breathing and is currently on a full high-frequency ventilator system. We don't know too much right now...just that these boys have a very long road ahead of them. We covet your prayers for lung development, for brain development, for wisdom for the doctors and nurses, but most of all that God will show up. I will keep adding posts as I get more information, but if you would take it upon yourself to pray for Max and Wes, we would be forever grateful. Pray that God hold these little boys tightly in His grasp. He has numbered their days as He has numbered yours and mine. Our prayer as new parents is that those days will outlast ours, but God is in control and we will follow His path in faith knowing that His plan is perfect.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Today has been a frustrating day for Kate and I. She had some regular contractions yesterday, and again today. The doctor (not Kate's favorite) came in and "checked" her again. Part of me knows why the doctors persist on checking her ALL THE TIME, but the other part of me, the rational part, wonders why they continue to do it when they know it causes her so much discomfort and typically spurs on a series of contractions...so then they have to check her again to make sure those contractions didn't change anything. It feels at times like they want her to go into labor again. If their intention is to prolong her pregnancy, it seems odd that they would "stir the hornets nest" every chance they get. The good news portion of this situation is that they still think she is dilated to 2 cm, maybe a little more, so basically no change there!! The doctor also said that he thinks Kate has a rupture. That is all. A rupture. A rupture of one of the placentas? A rupture of her appendix? Her Achilles tendon? Only he knows. But he felt it necessary to tell my pregnant wife who is fighting with all of her mental, spiritual and physical strength for the health and well being of her unborn children that she has a rupture, and just leave it at that. I cannot think of a circumstance where a "rupture" is a good thing. I don't think anyone has ever said, "you just ruptured season tickets to the Denver Broncos."

So all of these things have led to an "off" day. I will reserve the phrase "bad day" for when we are on the Labor and Delivery floor. We are just frustrated. It doesn't seem like the doctors have a real good plan on how to deal with these contractions, and that gives us some uneasy feelings at times. The same doctor that gave Kate a laundry list of unnecessary information this morning also mentioned to her a day or two ago that they are "throwing everything including the kitchen sink at her". Again, what doctor would say that? Maybe I am just too closely tied to Kate's emotional state to know that she doesn't want to hear that kind of stuff. But I also cannot imagine that anyone in a similar circumstance would want to be told that the doctors are not sure what to do either. Kate and I are hoping that God's plan is to let the doctors try all of these different treatments, and when they have all come to their wit's end, He will step in and stop the contractions. We pray that if this is the case, that it be evident to every doctor and nurse that we come into contact with (I would say that is about 50 per day) that any improvement in Kate's condition was not the result of drugs but the healing hand of our Heavenly Father. At the end of this journey, regardless of the outcome, we pray that God be given the glory. Not doctors, not the nurses, not various combinations of drugs, but that God's control over this situation be undeniable. We believe that He has and does use these people and medications to carry out His will, we just want His hand in this situation to be at the forefront.

At the end of the day, the contractions are not gone, but the boys are still in Kate's womb. That is a reason to give praise to our Abba Father. The day has not been uneventful, but our babies have had another day to live and grow in the conditions in which God designed them to.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

One more day

Today was kind of a mixed bag. Kate had some more regular contractions this morning, so the doctors have adjusted her medication from 10 mg of Procardia every 3 hours to 20 mg every 4 hours. Kate was very anxious about her "strip" this morning, and after she called and told me that the nurse called the doctors after seeing it, I immediately thought I was going to get a call that I needed to head to the hospital because they were moving Kate downstairs. The doctor "checked" Kate again and said she was still dilated to 2cm, so that was good news because that means no change for quite a few days now. The doctor also said it was not conclusive if what she saw on the strip was contractions or irritability, but did not feel there was anything too alarming. So that is good news overall, but still some unknowns and the doctors continue to seem "perplexed" by Kate. This is no surprise to me...she has perplexed me for more than 10-years now. Even though there are some unanswered questions, and Kate feels like this course of treatment may not be working too well, we are ecstatic that Kate is 24 weeks and 4 days pregnant. Every day is such an amazing blessing from God, and we can really tell that Kate's belly keeps getting bigger...and we know it is not from eating Cafe 58 cookies (although she did sneak one tonight, but don't tell her nurse). She said it was well worth an insulin shot if that is what it comes down to.

Speaking of Cafe 58 cookies, we did send out an open invitation to the nurses to stop by and grab a cookie...and they ALL did. One of the nurses' assistants came in and was wondering where this Cafe 58 place was and I explained that it is in the old Zeeland Hospital building. Her jaw dropped and she looked at me and said, "you work at the Zeeland Hospital? So does my sister!! That is soooooo cool!! I can't wait to tell her!! Thanks for the cookie!!" Needless to say, I don't think she is going to be stopping by for lunch at the Cafe anytime soon...sorry Leah and Sue. The best byproduct of the impromptu cookie sale was that one of the nurses brought us a remote for the DVD player in our room!! I have been trying to get one since day one, and the nurse told me there are only about 5 of them left on the entire floor and 25 rooms with DVD players. So we are ruling the roost over here now!! That is the power of the cookies. I am almost scared to break out all the other delicious home-made goodies we have around here...the nurses might surprise Kate by taking down the atrocious floral wallpaper border surrounding her room.

One thing that Kate and I have observed about our prayers over the last couple of nights is that when the days are calm and uneventful, it is so terribly easy to start looking further down the road then that day. When we were "in the storm" over the weekend, we were praying for the next minute, but after a little bit of calm, we are already letting ourselves start praying for weeks instead of days. I feel like an Israelite trying to collect manna for the next week instead of just what I need today. This is something we need to constantly remind ourselves of because God has been so faithful in providing Kate and I with our "daily bread", and we know that if our boys are born tonight that God is equally capable of working a miracle outside of Kate's womb as He is inside. What a mighty God we serve!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A day of changes

I am elated to report that Kate and the boys had a good day today. After two rounds with the contraction monitor, I am happy to report that Kate won both of them. The nurses didn't think there was a contraction on either of the "strips" as they are called (the contraction monitoring machine prints the results on a type of graph paper...very old school). What an amazing answer to prayers. This past weekend sees like a distant memory, and I think Kate could handle bed rest for months without TV or any other form of entertainment if you told her every day would be like the last two. We are a bit anxious because the doctors have taken Kate of the Mag, and that goofy bag of clear liquid has us both convinced that there is no other way to stop Kate's contractions and keep them away. We were both surprised that they chose to take this course of action, but after a few questions we found out that they do not want to keep her on the mag because if it is already built up in her blood stream and the contractions return, there will be very little they can do. After 24 hours, the drug will have worked out of her system and it could again be used as a treatment option. The upside is that Kate is "IV free' right now, which gives her more freedom to get up to use the bathroom, take a shower without being wrapped in saran wrap, and gives me more sleep...win/win in my mind. The doctors are again using a drug called Procardia, but Kate has had mixed results on this drug and we are a little uneasy about its ability to keep the contractions away. The one thing we are sure of is God's ability to keep the contractions away, via medication or by way of his Might Hand. One other change is that Kate is again being given blood thinning medicine via an injection twice a day to keep from getting blood clots in her legs due to inactivity. They started this treatment on Friday of last week, but they stopped giving her the shots because she was in labor and the doctors think C-section is the likely from of delivery, and apparently blood thinners and surgery do not mix well. So she had these really neat inflatable leg warmer things complete with an air compressor on the end of her bed. As cool as they were, they made getting in and out of bed even more cumbersome, so my mourning there loss will be short lived. All of these changes led up to Kate being "disconnected" from all devices, so sleep should come easier for both of us now. I will miss the intermittent hum of the air compressor, however.

I was able to get a full day of work in today, which was great. We are so thankful for two relatively uneventful days in a row. We are almost wondering what we did to deserve such a luxury, but we will bless God for these days every chance we get.

For those of you who were wondering, the Aerobed slept like a dream. My only struggle with it is the lack of space along side the bed (about 3 inches total between Kate's bed and the wall), so I have to perform this awkward "caterpillar" type move down to the bottom of the bed to get in and out...but it is well worth it. I am pretty sure the nurses that saw me performing the move last night got a good laugh out of it.

We found out this morning that Kate has gestational diabetes. When they told Kate that she had tested positive, her response was, "of course I did...why wouldn't I". She is used to getting her blood drawn every 6 hours, so a little finger prick doesn't offer too much inconvenience. The real inconvenience comes in looking at all the delicious candy and home-made delicacies laying around the hospital room. A few minutes after they told Kate that she had tested positive and discussed with her the changes she will need to make to her diet...the worst possible thing happened - our friends Leah Geenen and her mom Sue Timmer came in with 2-dozen fresh baked cookies. These are not just any cookies...they are Cafe 58 cookies. For those of you who don't know, Cafe 58 is an amazing restaurant (operated by Leah and her mom) in the old Zeeland Hospital, and their cookies are out of sight. Seriously, if you have not had one, make a special trip. You will be a better person for it. Then, about 2 hours later Kathy and Brian Busscher stopped by with fresh made scotch-a-roos, another one of Kate's favorites. It was almost enough to put today in the "bad day" category...for her, anyway. I was able to sample both and this has been one of the best days of my life!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

A good day

God has answered our prayers for a quiet day...not quite a boring day yet, but a quiet day. The doctors moved Kate back up to the OB Special Care floor this morning around 11:00, which is always a great feeling. Mentally, Kate and I love being up here. The food is not as good and our room is less than 1/4 the size of the delivery room we get on the 2nd floor (they have it reserved for us unless they absolutely have to use it), but we love it. It means that Kate and the boys only require monitoring twice a day instead of 24 hours a day, and the doctors do not feel that delivery is imminent. I was able to get back to work for a half day today, and that was awesome. I have to say, Macatawa Bank has been phenomenal to Kate and I through this process. I have not worked a full day since two weeks ago tomorrow, and they have been nothing but supportive of our situation. My co-workers have picked up the slack to allow me to take time off to be with Kate through these trying times. My boss has even talked with a few of our offices/branches in Grand Rapids to see if they had an open desk that I could work at if I felt I needed to be closer to Kate than Zeeland (where I normally work). What a blessing to work for an organization that cares that much about their employees, particularly in the current economic climate in West Michigan.

Kate had a really good day. She feels like her contractions are spaced out to 2-3 per hour, and the contraction monitor confirmed this tonight. What an absolute answer to prayers. God has been so faithful through this whole experience. In the times when it felt like He was distant, I now realize that our fears were blinding us from seeing His loving arms carrying us through. God has used the doctors and nurses of Holland Hospital and Spectrum Health to stop Kate's labor symptoms 4 times in 12 days. Our boys have gone from having essentially no chance if they had been born at 22 weeks and 3 days when this whole journey began, to now being "viable". Everyday they grow and develop in Kate's womb is a blessing from God, and one we hope to never take for granted.

Also, I get to sleep on my new Aerobed tonight...and I am really excited about that. It appears to be longer than 5 ft, and it is high enough off the ground that I don't think I will have to wear socks to keep my feet from freezing. Kate is concerned that she will not be able to wake me up to help her to the bathroom because I will be too comfortable. I told her that is why she has a "call" button on her bed...the nurses would love to help her out.

We cannot say thank-you enough for the prayers. We have felt the presence of God surrounding us and prayers have been answered. The cards, emails, posts, visits, volunteering to bring food, offers to help around the house...it all means so much. We are so overwhelmed by how many people have taken it upon themselves to pray for us and share their personal experiences with us. Thank-you all.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

She's still pregnant

Today has been another day filled with ups and downs. They reduced the amount of magnesium they were giving Kate from 2.5 grams/hour to 2 grams/hour, and she continued to respond well to the medication. She had a good afternoon with some visitors and a little nap. The early evening started heading in the wrong direction and her contractions have started to come closer together. They are not painful at all, which is a good change from last night, but they are starting to come every 7-10 minutes. We were (and still are) scared that labor had reared its ugly head once again. The doctors decided to check Kate's cervix again, and this doctor (different doctor from last night) felt that Kate was dilated at 1 to maybe 2 cm...which sounds a lot better to us that 2-3!! The doctor said, "good...your contractions are not changing your cervix". Where was this lady last night? The doctor last night was about 6 foot, 225 lbs and wearing an MSU Hockey sweatshirt (so you know he has made plenty of bad decisions in his life), and he thought 2-3 cm, and now a dainty little lady says 1-2 cm...and both her and the nurse that was present at tonight's exam said that the doctor we had last night is always a little "too generous". I think God used him to remind Kate and I how much we dislike anything related to MSU. Back to the point, Kate and I are ecstatic about what the doctor said. It is not a free pass for us to just hang out until the boys are ready to be born in a few months, but it was enough to give us a little shot of joy, some happy tears, and a great big "THANK-YOU LORD". They did increase Kate's mag back to 2.5 grams/hour so they can dial in the right amount that she needs to keep the contractions spaced out and the amount of mag in her blood at a safe level.

At the end of the day, we are shouting our praise to God. Glory be to God. We are exhausted and looking forward to a night without so many unknowns as we feel comforted in the arms of our Father. I am going to attempt to get back to work tomorrow...so pray that God will keep Kate on the 4th floor for observation and not the 2nd floor in a delivery room. Also, the contractions have picked up some steam while I was writing this post, so please pray that it will only be a short lived episode before the larger dose of mag kicks in...or better yet, God just intercedes and tells her uterus to be quiet.

Once again, the prayer support from God's people has been humbling for Kate and I. We cannot thank-you enough for interceding on our behalf when we could no longer pray. The support we have felt has changed our views of what it truly means to be a Christian, and has revealed to us the blessings that flow from being a member of the body of Christ.

Blessed Be YOUR Name

God showed up in a big way last night. We prayed and cried out for Him, so many of you have prayed and cried out for Him on our behalf. He came. He is here. He has lifted Kate, our little boys, and myself out of the raging waters and has set our feet on solid ground. God used the magnesium as a tool in His great plan, and the contractions have once again spread out considerably. Kate responded very well to the medication, she had a couple of "hot" and dizzy spells, but no vomiting or blood pressure crashes...another answered prayer. Kate and I were talking about how scared we were last night, and Kate said,"I really want to give this all to God, and I am really trying to do that...but I don't want to do that if it means that He is going to take away our boys". We talked about that and prayed about that. About 30 minute later Kate started to hum the tune to "Be still and know that I am God", and we sang that a number of times together. She said she just couldn't get that song out of her head. God used that song/phrase to reassure us both. We were both feeling like the situation was out of control, we were so scared that the babies were going to be delivered last night...and in one phrase that God put on Kate's heart, everything came into focus. God said just that...just settle down you two, I got this. The air in the room changed, our fears subsided, and God worked yet another miracle and stopped Kate's labor for the 4th time in 12 days. I hope that everyone that reads this has had or gets to experience the closeness of our God. It cannot be described in words. I have never felt as desperate or as scared as I did last night, and on this beautiful Sunday morning it feels almost like a distant memory. God carried Kate, He carried me, and He carried our precious little boys (who have grown quite fond of playing hide and seek with the heart rate monitors).

Another heartfelt THANK-YOU to everyone who has and who did pray for us. Heaven sent its army to this delivery room last night at the request of God's people. You all have such a special place in our hearts and we hope to one day thank everyone of you for praying for us when we could no longer pray.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Here we go again

After an okay night of sleep and a fairly uneventful morning (a huge answer to prayers) with some visits from family and friends and a new bed for me (thanks Tony, Cara, and Donna!!)...the wheels have fallen off. Kate was feeling what she described as cramps, and after being monitored for about 30 minutes, the nurses called in one of the doctors because of more regular contractions. The doctor checked Kate's cervix and she has dilated to 2-3 cm. So we are back down on the labor and delivery floor, and Kate is back on magnesium. Sadly, we are fast becoming pros at this. We know she is going to get warm, throw-up, lose the ability to walk by herself and keep her eyes open...at least on the higher dose. The same doctor (a new face to us) said that they will be checking Kate again in about 1-2 hours to see if she has dilated any further. He said that if she gets to 5-6 cm, it is time to throw in the towel and deliver these babies. He said they would not deliver the babies until the entire neonatal unit is assembled. Kate and I are terrified. We just wanted to recharge our batteries after a long week, and now we are talking about delivering the twins again. When is this going to stop? We know that God is here, we know that He is in control, we know He loves us and our sons...but we can't feel it right now. The next step on this path is unknown.

Lord, we want to feel in our hearts the things You promised...that You would never leave or forsake us. We know these things with our heads...we need to feel it in our hearts. Make Your presence known so that we can feel that You are in control. It feels like things are heading the wrong direction and we desperately need to feel Your arms around us, and especially around our little boys. Send Your angels to protect them Lord. Hold Katie firmly in Your arms. She needs Your strength to fight these contractions again and weather the side effects of the mag. I am continually praying the words from a Mercy Me song that has meant so much over the last number of days:
Hold Fast
Help is on the way
Hold Fast
He has come to save the day
What I've learned in my life,
the one thing greater than my strife
Is YOUR grasp
So hold fast

Lord we need to feel Your grasp. We are holding fast...so come to save the day. You have taken us to a place where the doctors are perplexed, they are on plan E and cannot figure Kate out. Step in God. Work a miracle that cannot be described as anything less than a "God thing". We are scared Lord. I know we will look back on this time and realize that there was only one set of footprints in the sand because You were carrying us through these trials...but we want to feel that now. Not later. Take Your eyes and Your guardian angels from me...I will walk this alone...but carry Kate and our boys. Let me go and hold them tight. You have calmed greater waters, and higher mountains have fallen at Your hand. So calm these waters and carry Kate and our sons safely to the other side of the mountain. The contractions have become painful for Kate and she is so scared. Carry her to a safe place where she does not have to be scared. Tell her You are near and hold our boys in Your mighty hand.

Friday, March 20, 2009

This is a roller coaster

Well, the day has not been real great. The doctors decided to take Kate off the magnesium as they did not want to continue with this treatment if they did not absolutely have to. Kate had another ultrasound to check her cervical length and the level of fluid around the babies. The level of fluid was good, but her cervix has shortened significantly. On Monday it was in the 2.7-2.9 cm range, today it was closer to the 1.5 cm range...not good. This means that the contractions are weakening her cervix and moving things closer to delivery. She has not dilated any further, which is good, but these contractions need to stop. The doctors decided to give her a large dose of Procardia which she has been on before with mixed results. She feels okay on this drug (compared to the magnesium), but it is taken in pill form every 4 hours, and about 3 1/2 hours after she takes the pill the contractions are back and are very regular. We were hoping that Kate was "someone who contracts their whole pregnancy but never changes their cervix" as the doctors have said so many times, but that hope is now gone. Kate and I are just tired. We just want to be bored. We want a day with no activity, no changes, no bad news. We are scared, Kate thinks she is a medical mystery, and we don't feel like we can pray anymore than we have. We praise God for another day that the boys are in their mothers womb, and tomorrow is a big day because we are at the 24 week mark. But things are just not trending in the right direction. God is quickly bringing us to a place where there are no more medicines and the only thing left is a miracle, and maybe that is His plan in this whole ordeal. The doctors are on plan D, but God is still on plan A. We desperately want to see where that plan is taking us, but the steps are being revealed one at at time right now. We will follow in faith knowing that God holds us in His arms and He holds our tiny little baby boys in His arms.

Thank-you to everyone who has left posts, sent emails, sent cards, called, or visited. Your words of encouragement have sustained us. We have felt the support of the body of Christ. Please pray that God will touch Kate and stop the contractions.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Another day, still pregnant

Today has been a good day overall. The doctors have reviewed all the information from the contraction and heart rate monitors from last night. They have determined that she is once again stable and they moved us back up to the 4th floor to OB Special Care. That was an enormous relief because if they thought delivery was eminent, they would not have done that. Kate's contractions have not gone away, but they are spaced out. We cannot seem to get a real good read on what the doctors are looking for to determine "stable" condition. They have told us that some women have contractions their whole pregnancy, but as long as their cervix does not change (thin or dilate), it is not a big issue. Kate has had some thinning of her cervix, but no change in dilation since last week Tuesday, so we are holding on to that as a source of encouragement that the contractions are not heading towards delivering the babies just yet. Kate is still trying to determine what a contraction is and what is not. We had some times where it looks like she is having contractions and the nurse says it is just an "irritable uterus", and others where we thought the graph looked good and the first question the nurse asks is "can you feel those?". By in large, Kate cannot feel most of the contractions, apart from feeling her belly to see if it hardens or tightens. This is a huge source of frustration for Kate, as you can imagine.

Please pray that the doctors can find the right mix of treatments to keep Kate's contractions at bay. We praise God for another day that our boys have had to grow and develop in the place that their Creator has designed them to. We trust that His plan is good and perfect. We pray not for an easy path, but that God will give us the feet to walk the path, where ever it may lead.

A beautiful sunrise

Praise God. It is about 10:00 on Thursday morning and although we are still on the labor and delivery floor, Kate is doing well and she is still pregnangt with twin boys - 23 weeks and 5 days pregnant to be exact. God has answered the prayers of His people, and her contractions have spread out considerably...up to 25-30 minutes at times! This is really great news because she is on a lower dosage of Mag (2 grams per hour instead of 3 grams per hour that she was on until about midnight), and she is feeling much better. The doctor wanted the babies heart rates tracked constantly, which has been a bit of a pain. The little mechanism they use to track their heart rate is designed for later term babies...not two squirrely little 1+ lbs babies. Our poor nurses throughout the night and morning really drew the short straw. The nurse last night was in our room for the better part of three hours trying to get the monitors so that they would track the babies effectively. Kate's belly just does not offer very much real estate to work with just yet, so our boys have really tested the resolve of the nurses here (way to go boys!!). Every time Kate would shift, the nurses would have to come and readjust the monitors, so she did not get a lot of sleep. Myself on the other hand...slept like a baby (no pun intended of course). There is a really comfortable couch in the delivery room that has been my silver lining through this storm. I can actually stretch all the way out on it, which is a huge bonus compared to the 2 foot by 5 foot sorry excuse for a cot thing they have on the 4th floor. My feet actually touch the ground when I lay on my back...it is awesome. When the doctors told us that they wanted to monitor Kate down here over night, I tried to give Kate a high-five because that meant I was going to get to stretch out. She left me hangin'. She does not always respond well to my attempts to "ease the tension".

Right now Kate is really just tired from all the activity and emotions of yesterday and last night. She does have periodic spells of dizziness and nausea, and she often feels very warm. These are all side effects of Mag, who has what I will describe as a prickly demeanor. She is resting now as we listen to the heart beats of our twins...it really is a very soothing, intoxicating sound, almost like a lullaby. Maybe I will make a recording of it and have Billy Mays sell it on TV.

When I got up this morning, the sun was rising over the city. We now have a view looking south over the city, and instead of the high rises we are accustomed to with our "normal" westerly view, the tallest structures to our south consist of 5 different church steeples. As the sun came up, it just illuminated these structures, and I could not help but think of God's faithfulness and His very close presence throughout this last night and throughout the last 8 days.

We want to send a very heartfelt "THANK-YOU" to all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who have held Kate and the boys up in prayer. We have received so many phone calls, cards, emails, and visits that we could never begin to say thank-you enough. You have all been "Jesus with skin on" to myself, Kate, and our little baby boys.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another dose of Mag (23 weeks 4 days)

Kate has now been on the Magnesium Sulfate drip for about 9+ hours. The contractions have been DRAMATICALLY reduced, but the drug is certainly taking its toll on Kate. The doctors have not let her eat or drink anything since breakfast, which turned out to be a good thing because she had another vomiting spell...but I did not have to clean up any fruit loops this time!! She has had her ups and downs on the magnesium, sometimes she feels okay, other times her legs ache, she gets real dizzy, her face gets very warm, and often times she needs to be on oxygen. This treatment seems like it is from the stone ages with its long list of negative side effects, but the one thing that it does do is slow down contractions...and it has done that. Praise God!! Everyone around here talks about this medication like it is a crotchety old lady name "Mag". I have adopted this idea to add a little humor to my otherwise serious day.

Thank-you to all of the people that have faithfully prayed for Kate and the boys. It has been a really scary day, and we have felt a comfort that only comes from God. The doctors were talking to us about how the babies were going to be delivered (they think a C-section is more than likely), which is about the worst thing on earth to think about knowing the odds these boys face if they are born in the near future. The doctors also said that the twins are certainly going to come early. I don't know what possessed them to say that, but they said it might be today, maybe next week, maybe next month, but they are going to come early. What Kate and I have promised to do is only think about today. God has given us enough grace and strength to face the challenges of today. Tomorrow He will do the same, because His mercies are new every morning. Our prayer is that whatever the outcome for our twin boys, that God be given the glory. He gave us the opportunity to be parents to these little treasures from Heaven for 23 weeks and 4 days so far...and it has been so amazing. He is our Creator God. He gives and takes away, he gives and takes away, my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your name.

The journey so far...

The following are emails that I have been sending throughout this "journey" that Kate and I embarked on 8 days ago. For those of you that do not know the story from the beginning, this should get you up to speed:

March 13
I just wanted to give you an update on how things are going with Kate, myself and the twins. As you mentioned, Kate went into preterm labor on Tuesday (March 10) afternoon. The doctors and nurses at Holland Hospital were able to stop her contractions, which were happening about every minute or more. Since Tuesday, they have kept us in the hospital because Kate is only 23 weeks along. The plan is for us to be transferred to Spectrum health today (Saturday) because their neonatal unit is much more sophisticated. They would be able to deliver the twins at 24 weeks if Kate were to go back into labor and they couldn't stop it. We are certainly hoping and praying that the labor symptoms don't come back anytime soon, but it looks like the rest of the pregnancy could be spent at Spectrum, but it is too early to tell. Kate and the babies are doing very well, and there has been no regular contractions since Tuesday night. God's arms have been holding us tight, and as we look back on the trials of the past couple of days, we can see that God's grace was the greatest in those times. There have been just so many occasions where God has used a nurse, a visitor, an email, or a phone call to speak His calming and encouraging words. We know that no matter what happens in the next couple of days/weeks, that God loves our little twin boys more than we do, and even though they have yet to be born, they are truly children of the King.

March 14
I am actually writing you this email from Spectrum. They moved Kate via ambulance around 10:00 this morning. Since we have arrived, the contractions have returned. The doctors have administered another ultrasound and the boys appear to be doing well. They have Kate on magnesium to stop the contractions, they gave her the first steroid shot to help promote lung development for the twins, and they have planned another battery of blood tests later this evening. Please pray that the contractions will subside as they are a source of great anxiety for Kate and I, because the likelihood of survival for the boys is not real great until they reach the 24 week mark (7 more days). Also, the nurses in Holland were so exceptional that we feel a little bit lonely in a new hospital with all new people. Pray that God will grant us peace in these new surroundings. Kate is also feeling emotionally and physically weak after an intense couple of days, being transported via ambulance, and the recurring labor symptoms.

I will keep you updated on Kate's status, and thank-you again for your prayers. As the prayers of God's people have gone up, we have truly felt His grace raining down.

March 15
Wow. God is so good. Today (Sunday) was a day filled with every emotion in the book. As I mentioned, Kate's contractions came back after we arrived at Spectrum. They administered magnesium sulfate to calm the contractions, but it collected too rapidly in Kate's blood stream. I woke up this morning around 6:30 when Kate called my name and as soon as I got up she became very sick. Over the next number of hours she was becoming weaker and weaker. I had to literally carry her to the bathroom because she could not get her feet under her. The doctors and nurses began to monitor her very closely and her blood pressure (BP) began to drop. At one point a bunch of alarms started going of because her BP was dropping so rapidly. I am not even sure what the numbers in the blood pressure count mean, but they said if the bottom number drops below 50, that is not good. At one point this morning (around 10:30 a.m.) her BP was 60 over 23. About 5 seconds after the nurse saw that, there was at least 9 people in the room. They forced an entire liter of fluids into her in less than 5 minutes, wrapped her in warm blankets, rolled her onto her side, cut off the magnesium, and the anesthesiologist gave her a shot of something (not sure what). Within 5 minutes she was a different person. All of her color came back, her eyes opened, she was talking again...it was like someone flipped a switch. They have since changed their approach and are using a new medicine that she seems to be responding very well to. Her contractions have spread far enough apart that they moved us from the delivery room to what I am going to call a "holding room". They have an entire floor here at Spectrum called "OB Special Care" where expectant moms just like Kate that are high risk pregnancies or have had early labor symptoms spend there time. Some are here for shorter stays, some are here for their entire pregnancy. We are hoping Kate is here for a long time, but we are following God's path one step and one day at a time.

So after the events of this morning where I thought I was losing my wife, much less our little boys, we are now sitting in a comfortable room watching the sun set over the hills on the other side of GR. What a mighty God we serve. There were times when His presence felt far away, but He has faithfully carried Kate, the boys, and myself to a place where the contractions have spaced out and subsided and the doctors felt comfortable moving us to the "holding room". We are so thankful to be a part of the body of Christ, and a part of Haven Church. We received a number of encouraging emails that all seemed to come at just the right time and say just the right thing and we know that is not a coincidence. We appreciate the prayers of God's people. We have experienced a lot of emotions today, but as we reflect on the day and watch the sun set, we can't help but think that the Son of God never took His loving hands off of our unborn sons. We just praise God for another day that the boys have to grow in their Mom's belly, and pray for many more if that is God's will.

March 16
Well, we had a scary morning with more regular contractions, but the nurses were quick to act and gave Kate a big shot of fluids via her IV and an extra dose of her medication, and she responded very quickly and within 15-20 minutes they had calmed to almost nothing. They suspect that some dehydration was causing the contractions, so you can about imagine how much water Kate has put down so far today!! After the contractions subsided, they moved Kate to the ultrasound room and we got to see our boys moving around, which was just so awesome. They look healthy and they are measuring right where they should be at about 23 weeks plus a few days...and they are definitely two boys!! Kate felt good all day, got a little nap in, and I was finally able to move my car from the emergency parking lot to the "regular" parking ramp and figure out how to find my way back to the room. We had a good report when they monitored Kate for contractions tonight and were able to just spend time in prayer together thanking God for his faithfulness and for another day that our Creator can knit together our babies in their mother's womb.

March 18
I wanted to send an update on how Kate and the boys are doing. After a scary weekend, Kate's contractions had calmed down a bit. They moved us up from the labor and delivery floor on Sunday evening to the OB special Care floor where mothers with high-risk pregnancies spend their days on bed rest. Since then we have had some episodes with regular contractions, but have often been able to cool them down with a good shot of fluids from an IV or an extra dose of the Procardia medication she is currently taking to calm the contractions. Today (Wednesday) has not been a good day. We were hoping that things had stabilized a bit and after talking with Kate decided I would start going back to work, so today was my first day back. Kate called me at about 11:00 and said that she was having regular contractions again and they checked her cervix and didn't feel there has been much change there, still a bit thin and dilated to about 1 cm. But the doctors are concerned about the contractions, so they have moved us back down to the labor and delivery floor. They also discussed with us that if the babies are born before Saturday (week 24) that the hospital does not resuscitate unless the parents ask them to. They asked what we would like them to do given that scenario. The boys are just too young and their lungs are not developed enough to breathe by themselves, so they would try a tube and a ventilator to help them breathe. If this is not successful they would try chest compressions only if we wish. They said this is very painful for the baby and would likely only prolong life for a very short time. As Christians, Kate and I are just torn about this because we want to give God every opportunity to work a miracle while at the same time not causing any additional suffering to our boys. Our decision was for them to resuscitate but not cause additional pain. Our prayer is that this scenario will not play out. They again have Kate on a magnesium sulfate drip, which many of you know she did not react well to this past weekend. When the doctors mentioned this and asked how she felt about it, Kate's response was, "I will stay on that drug for the rest of my life if it keeps our boys growing in my belly". Her strength is a testament to the Living God. Kate has been on the drip for about 1 1/2 hours at this point, and the contractions remain regular and pronounced. We ask prayers that the drug will work quickly to calm these contractions, but also that Kate will tolerate the medicine well. We pray that God will touch Kate and stop the contractions, that our boys can grow big and strong in their mother's womb where their Creator can continue to knit them together by His design. We don't know what tomorrow or an hour from now will bring, but we know that our God has our little tiny boys firmly in His grasp. He will continue to give Kate the strength to keep fighting to hold on to these precious gifts. We covet your prayers as we fight for another day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Our first post

Kate and I have decided to create a blog as a way to keep people updated on Kate and the boys' condition.  Many of you know that Kate went into early labor with our twin boys at 22 weeks 3 days.  The whole journey started at Holland Hospital on Tuesday, March 10 and continues to unfold today, one week later (23 weeks and 3 days!!) on the OB Special Care floor at Spectrum Health in downtown Grand Rapids.  I do not know how this whole "blogging" thing works, but I will do my best to update it as a means of letting large groups of people know how Kate and the babies are doing.  I have tried for the last week to do this via email, but it has become too difficult because our Brothers and Sisters in Christ have absolutely overwhelmed us with emails, calls, visits, cards, and prayers.

Here goes nothing...if I am doing something wrong, or am not adhering to the rules of "blogging", feel free to let me know!!