Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Twins Blog - Dec. 22, 2010 - "Self-extubation"

After a particular event last night at the hospital, I'm confused as to how I'm suppose to feel. Aidan decided that the ventilator tube that's helping him breathe was uncomfortable. Surprisingly, he was strong enough to dislodge the tube by gripping it with his hand and then twisting his head away from it. Not surprisingly, he wasn't ready to breathe on his own just yet. Nurses had to spend half an hour reviving and retubing him. Sigh!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Twins Blog - Dec. 21, 2010 - "Being cute. That's what we do"

A few shots of the boys 19 days after birth. They're still very tiny but they're hanging in there. Just need more time to grow.

Here's Ethan. Just sleeping in this shot. Both of them likes to stretch around a lot. When he stretches, he flicks his tongue. Ethan particularly likes to use his free hand to play around with his tubes.

Here's Aidan. He was sleeping but just happened to open his eyes to peek at us here. Aidan likes to raise his hand and blows bubbles while stretching.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Twins Blog - Dec.14, 2010 - "Please be ok"

He looked a bit better than yesterday.
He's given a bit of milk but not digesting any yet.
Diagnosed with pneumonia which the doctors will treat with antibiotics.
Back on blood pressure drugs.

Hanging in there. Not much difference from yesterday. Which means, he's doing just fine!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Twins Blog - Dec. 13, 2010 - "Under the weather"

No more heart murmurs! But will need to wait for further examination by cardio guy.
Unfortunately, he's now feeling a bit ill. Similar to how Ethan was several days ago. Similarly, he underwent a spinal tap to rule out meningitis. Poor baby...
Still no milk today.
Breathing fluctuated wildly again today. Ventilator went up to 95% before settling for 40%.

Digesting milk very well. Up to 10 meals a day with 5ml per meal.
Ventilator dialed down to 21%.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Twins Blog - Dec. 12, 2010 - "Save us"

Started digesting milk today! He did it faster than expected. Aidan needed several days of feeding before he finally started digesting.
Breathing not as well today. Respirator dialed up to about 30%.

Still no milk today because he is still on the heart medication. Today is the 3rd and last day of treatment. The cardio specialist will examine him to see if the valve closed properly.
His breathing fluctuated wildly during the visiting hours. The nurses had to adjust his ventilator from 30% up to 45% before settling back on 35% when we left.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Twins Blog - Dec. 11, 2010 - "Could use a hug"

Ventilator dialed up from 25% to about 30%. Not significant enough to start worrying.
Weight dropped a bit, but it's because he's not had milk for the last 2 days because of the heart medication.

Still a bit drowsy.
Started having milk again today. Not digesting, but it's good nonetheless.
Ventilator also dialed up.

We stayed there almost for the full 4 hours of visiting hours today. We took turns at each child so that there's very few moments that one of them is alone. We brushed their heads, held their legs, and let them grip our fingers. Just a couple of quality hours of bonding.

Can't wait to give them a hug. If anyone in this world needs a hug, it's them. But can't get ahead of ourselves. Just got to take it one step at a time.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Twins Blog - Dec. 10, 2010 "...Two steps back"

Not feeling well. Drowsy looking and temperatures fluctuating.
Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) done to see if he is suffering from meningitis. We won't have the full lab results until a week later. But preliminary results, which are 90% accurate, should be available 3 hours after the test. We were told that we would be notified if there's anything serious. It's now 6 hours since the test, so I take this as good news...
Respirator back in his throat so that he may relax and recover from his illness.
No more milk for now.

Heart murmur found today. Started in same treatment as Ethan previously. This means no more milk for now.
Very tiny bit of swelling in right hemisphere of brain. Often goes away on it's own. Will be closely monitored.
Breathing not as well as yesterday, again.

Fortunately, we were able to bump into the 2 doctors looking after our boys during visiting hours. Neither of them sound particularly concerned. Everything that's happening is well within their expectations.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Twins Blog - Dec. 9, 2010 - "Thriving"

Started having milk today.
Took a poop by himself.
Ventilator dialed up a bit.
Some sort of minor infection by his eye. Eye drops regularly applied.

Finally started to digest milk.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Twins Blog - Dec. 8, 2010 - "One step forward..."

Not much change for Aidan today.
He no longer requires the UV light therapy.
He's still not really digesting milk. The doctors will likely give him more serving per day but cut down on the quantity per serving.
He's still on the respirator but it no longer pulsates.

Great news for Ethan today. His heart murmur is gone! Relief!
Another good news is that his respirator is now connected to his nose rather than directly into his throat. This means his lungs have improved to the point where they can afford to use this less efficient method to assisted breathing.
(Edit: What I was trying to describe here is CPAP)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Twins Blog - Dec. 7, 2010 - "Incubators"

After a day without the UV light therapy, his jaundice worsened. So the light is back on.
Today is the 1st day since he was started on the cardio drug. Full treatment period is 3 days. We'll have to see how he responds to it.

Still not taking the milk very well. But that's to be expected and they'll keep trying to give it to him.

Good news for both the boys today is that they're now inside a plastic incubator box rather than being enclosed in cling wrap. Being in the cling wrap box allowed doctors and other medical staff to have a larger space to work on the babies. So, being moved to the incubator means they don't require as much medical attention, which is good. Plus, it allows us to get clearer shots of the boys!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Twins Blog - Dec. 6, 2010 - "Ups an downs"

The doctor tried to reduce the dosage of his blood pressure meds, but it appears he's not ready for that yet. So, they maintained his normal dosage.
There used to be a machine that pulsates his lungs to assist his breathing. That's no longer required.
He also no longer requires UV light therapy for jaundice. Presumably, his liver is developing.
Heart murmur is still there, indicating that there's an major blood vessel in the heart that's underdeveloped. A cardio specialist prescribed a drug that will hopefully stimulate the growth of that blood vessel. If he doesn't respond to the drug treatment, he may have to be transferred to Queen Mary Hospital for surgery. This would be the worst case scenario.
He's able to have a couple ml of milk at first, but because of the cardio drug, he has had to stop.

He started having a bit of milk yesterday, but his body was having trouble absorbing it. But they'll keep trying and eventually, he'll take it.
He was taken off the blood pressure meds yesterday and his blood pressure is still stable.
Aidan still has the UV light and pulsating respirator thing. Hopefully these 2 things can go off tomorrow.

So, each of the boys have their strengths and weaknesses. Ethan has the stronger lung but has the heart complication. Aidan has the blood pressure under control and is working on digestion but his lungs still has some ways to go. But obviously, a majority of our concern rest with Ethan's complication. We can only hope that he responds to the drugs so he wouldn't have to go under the knife...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Twins Blog - Dec. 5, 2010 - "This is where the fun begins..."

As parents, the best we can hope for is for the boys to made gradual and steady improvements. However, as we found out today, this hope is unrealistic. As with all preemies, it's a roller coaster ride in the NICU. There are days when things improve; and then there are days when there are setbacks.

The setback for today concerns Ethan. The doctor heard a heart murmur. The murmur may be an indication that a major blood vessel in the heart may not be developing properly. This may cause circulation problems. I use the word "may" because things are just not very certain at this point. The doctor will re-examine tomorrow morning and if the murmur is still there, a cardio-specialist will be consulted. This is actually relatively common in preemies. Fortunately, it's a condition that can be treated with drugs.
(Edit: The condition is PDA)

On to the good news...

Ethan's lungs have improved to the point where he was taken off the ventilator for a little bit today. However, he seemed to struggle so they put him back on. Nonetheless, this is a good sign.

Aidan's blood pressure has stabilized to the point where he no longer requires medication for it. He's also allowed a couple of milliliters of milk to give his digestive system a workout.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Twins Blog - Dec. 4, 2010 - "Risks"

I've had a brief chat with the doctors yesterday. I didn't hear anything really unexpected. It's a premature birth and I understand there are certain risks that accompany it. Nonetheless, it's much scarier hearing a doctor say it than from reading it from a book.
1. Lungs not fully developed. So, they'll require a respirator for the time being.
2. Blood pressure is too low. This will be treated with medication.
3. Risk of multi-organ failure. The doctors will be monitoring the babies' urine & excretions. I've watched enough Grey's Anatomy to know that urine & excretions are indicative of liver health which is often the first to go in multi-organ failures...
4. Some preemies will suffer from brain swelling. It will often happen in the first 4-5 days, so these next few days are critical.

Anyway, today is Day 2 since birth and the boys are doing better than yesterday. Both have had their ventilators toned down, providing about 25% oxygen concentration (ambient air consists of 21%). They were at 100% right after birth and at about 50% yesterday.

On to the interesting stuff!

Here, mom is watching over Aidan. Each of them is inside a case enclosed with cling wrap. The hose on top is from a humidifier. This keeps the baby's environment warm and moist so that their delicate skin doesn't dry out.

Sorry, the moisture made it impossible to get a clear shot.

Here, mom is speaking to Ethan.

Ethan's cling wrap was recently replaced which made getting clear shots much easier. Here, we see him open his eyes for the first time. (Opening of the eyes doesn't actually have any significant meaning physiologically. But it did help us, as parents, form a psychological bond to the child.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Twin Pregnancy Blog - Dec. 3 2010 - Week 28 - "Birth"

We had hoped that the twins would be born no more than 1 month premature.  But the boys felt like coming out today (3 months premature) and there's really nothing anyone can do about it. So here we go!

Dec. 3, 2010
Water broke. Ambulance dispatched.

Contractions intensify; spaced about 2-3 min apart.

Ambulance team arrived.

Arrived at hospital.

Examined by OBGYN.

Went into delivery; fully dilated; too late for Cesarean-section and epidural.

3:05am and 3:07am
The boys were born two minutes apart. (We're trying not to let out who's older...)

Since they're so premature they need to stay in the NICU for a while. For the time being, they'll need a ventilator to breath and will be fed intravenously. At this point in time, they're not out of the clear yet. We'll just have to hope that they've got strong wills to live.


Here's Aidan Cheung. He's blowing bubbles. Silly boy. I bet he decided to come out early just to do that...
Newborn Aiden Cheung

And here's Ethan Cheung. He's got a pretty good grip...
Newborn Ethan Cheung

Mom is doing well. Because it was a natural birth, she appears to be recovering fairly rapidly. That's all for now!