Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Update 12.8.2010

Greetings from the NICU…and home. Life has certainly changed since our last post. Anna and Lucy are adjusting to home with Mommy and Daddy. Brenna is still in the NICU, but is making positive strides.  It’s been difficult to split time between home and the NICU, but we do it because we have to.

Our last post, we detailed some of the trials Brenna had been facing with infections, and possible tummy issues, among other things. Brenna has been looking and acting like a new girl in the last couple of weeks. After several rounds of meds to alleviate swelling and some steroids for an extra little burst, she is off the vent and back on VapoTherm nose prongs. She gets tired easily, but after a month of the vent doing most of the work, it’s understandable. Feeding is going well, she’s getting 45 milliliters of fortified milk every three hours; the most she had previously was 8 milliliters, so needless to say, we are relieved her digestive system seems to be responding.  She’s gaining weight, 6lbs 2oz at last check, and we feel confident it’s legitimate weight, not skewed by fluid retention. All of her IV lines have been removed and all meds are now being administered orally through her feeds. She is a little jaundiced, but food and getting rid of the IV fluids should help.

All in all, she is vastly improved from just a few weeks ago. She is more alert and awake than we have really ever seen her, and we love every minute of it. She looks right at you with her big brown eyes and we can’t help but smile every time. It’s so nice to see her wanting to interact with you and her environment.  We brought her a swing so she can get out of her crib now and again and sit up, and her nurses were nice enough to find a radio, so she has been listening to Christmas music for the last few weeks. Normally, the rule is no Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, but Daddy will let it slide for now. We are truly amazed at her progress and we pray she continues to improve so she can join us and her sisters at home. 

Brenna Bear

Home life… where to begin? We still can’t believe we have two of our girls home with us now. It was a little surreal at first. In the hospital, they were our babies that we got to visit. Now, they are our babies for who we are completely, totally responsible for.  We knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I don’t know if we really knew how much work it was going to be. For the most part, the girls have taken it pretty easy on us. There have only been a handful of sleepless nights so far. Our days are filled with doctor’s appointments, bottles and diapers. Lucy is still loud, Anna is quiet, but she seems to be learning from her sister. She has been a little more vocal about things the last few days, but it’s not nearly as loud and demanding as Lucy. At their last check up, both girls weighed exactly the same, 5lbs 15 oz, so we may have three 6lb babies by the time this gets posted. We can’t believe how far they’ve come since birth.

So overall it’s been a good couple of weeks. Dividing time between home and the hospital is hard, but all three of our girls need us regardless of where they are at, and we’re going to make sure we are there.  We thank God our parents are close, as they have been wonderful babysitters. Without them, we’d be hauling the girls back to the hospital everyday to see Brenna. They have visited, but leaving them at home with grandma and grandpa really give us some quality time to focus on Brenna, and I feel like it has helped her tremendously.

Anna Banana
Lucy Monkey
That is where we stand right now. As always, prayers are appreciated. We see them working every time Brenna peeks at us with those big brown eyes, or Lucy wails for her bottle, or as Anna snuggles in on our chest for a little cat nap. Having Anna and Lucy home has really made us realize how far they have come, and how far they still have to go. We look forward to getting Brenna home and starting life as a family of five together. Have a good holiday. 

In His name,

Brad, Angie, Anna, Brenna, and Lucy Kamps

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Update 11.17.2010

Greetings from the NICU. It’s been a while since our last update. We’ve been busy with growing girls who require more and more hands on time from Mommy and Daddy. Weeks 9 and 10 were stressful for us, but week 11 is shaping up to be a high point on this ride. 

Brenna, as always, has been keeping us on our toes. Shortly after our last post it was confirmed she was in fact battling a urinary tract infection, which can cause many issues with preemies. By the end of the week, Brenna had become very swollen, and all the extra fluid she was carrying forced her back to the high frequency vent she was on after birth. X-rays also showed abnormal gas patterns in her abdomen, which was a cause for concern with her prior stomach issues. She was monitored closely and started on a 10 day run of antibiotics to battle the infection. We are happy to report the infection is under control and she is back eating and tolerating her feeds well. Brenna is still holding a bunch of extra fluid, but she seems to be feeling better. She is a bit more active and will open her eyes when Mommy and Daddy talk to her.  She is off the high frequency vent, but still requires a breathing tube. It’s very apparent she is aware of the tube and she does hate it so very much. Her CO2 levels have been improving slowly, so we pray she is able to get off the vent soon. We think she’ll be a happier girl once that happens. We say it every time, but she is our little warrior. She has more heart than any little girl we have ever met and, we thank God for our little Brenna Bear every single day.

Anna and Lucy have had eventful weeks as well, but for different reasons. Both girls have been breast/bottle feeding for the last couple of weeks. Feeding is one of the hardest things to learn for preemies, and both girls have done outstanding. As a result, they have been gaining weight like crazy. Both girls are well over 4lbs, with Lucy at 4lbs 6oz and Anna at 4lbs 12oz. They were moved out of their isolettes two weeks ago and have had no issues adjusting to open air cribs. Lucy is very vocal these days, and she has no problem letting you know when she’s ready for food/diaper change/attention/etc. Anna is starting to make some more noise, but she’s our quiet girl who waits patiently for Mommy and Daddy.

We are continually amazed at how well Anna and Lucy are progressing at 11 weeks old, which brings us to the high point we alluded to earlier: Anna and Lucy are coming home this week! Last week, the discharge coordinator came to talk to us about starting the process of getting them home. It was first brought up last Monday to start preparing and it sounded like it would be a few more weeks. We got a phone call on Thursday that Lucy was ready and she would be going home this week. Anna had just started feeding so we thought we would get Lucy home, and get adjusted, then bring her sister home. But Anna took to the bottle so well, they made the decision that she is coming home too. She will be on oxygen, but that is a small price to pay to have our two of our girls home. Anna was discharged today, and barring any changes, Lucy will be discharged on Friday. Doctor’s orders are to continue to restrict visitors pretty tightly while the girls adjust to a new environment, so even though they are sprung, it might be a little bit longer before you can all meet them. It’s hard for us to say that, but we are absolutely going to err on the side of caution with our precious babies.

As excited as we are to get them home, we are saddened that Brenna will not be able to join them for a while. With winter coming and the other girls home, it will add another dimension to our already upside down lives, but we’ve said before, “It’s never easy”, and we’ll make it work.  Brenna is improving, but she is still a sick little girl. She’ll have her own room, so she can have the quiet, relaxed atmosphere she needs to get herself back on track. She still has a long road in front of her, but we are encouraged by her progress in the last week.

As always, we appreciate the prayers and ask you continue them for our family. We had thought having one home by Christmas would have been great, but having two at home before Thanksgiving is beyond anything we could have imagined. Thank you for all your support and enjoy the upcoming holiday season.

In His Name,
Brad, Angie, Anna, Brenna, and Lucy Kamps

Monday, October 25, 2010

Brenna's tube is out...time for Paci!

Some new pics of the girls!


Greetings from the NICU. Well, here we are almost 8 weeks in. It seems like every day this week has been a day we have some laughs, shed some tears, and then start all over again. The girls continue to amaze, delight, confuse, worry, (and any other verb you want to throw in there) us, but every day we learn something new about who they are. 

We had a long week with Brenna.  Recovery from her PDA ligation has taken a little longer than we had anticipated. She hasn’t been herself; very swollen, easily agitated, and overall just not a happy camper. As if trying to recover from surgery wasn’t bad enough, the doctors discovered a small stress fracture in her left arm, just above the wrist. Babies usually get most of their calcium in the third trimesters, which we missed. And whatever she did get, she had to split three ways with her sisters. They have bumped up her calcium, and we just need to let it heal. The fractured wrist pared with the vent tube down her throat may explain why she’s been so cranky. Much to the relief of her mommy and daddy, her vent tube came out Saturday morning and she is back on Vapotherm (nose prongs) like her sisters. The first 3 hours we weren’t sure she was going to stay on it for long with some high CO2 levels, but we just needed to give her some time to adjust. Her color is looking very good, she’s tipping the scales at 3lbs 2oz,  and there is a night and day difference in her attitude. She seems like our sweet little Brenna again, we missed our little girl.  While she seems to be feeling okay, we've learned there may be some other issues that mis Brenna may be struggling with.  On Sunday, some routine tests came back and they suggested she may be getting an infection (a very scary word for such a little baby).  Preliminary cultures of her spinal fluid came back normal however we are still waiting for the blood and urine results.  Additionally, Brenna's tummy turned bright red early Monday morning.  X-rays were ordered and it appears her intestines aren't very happy right now.  We pray this isn't a return of her earlier stomach issues.  So again, Brenna has had the small amount of milk she was getting taken away until we can figure out what is going on.  Please pray for our tough little girl.  She has had to (and continues to) deal with far more than she deserves and mommy and daddy just want her to get a break from all the surgeries and illnesses so she can catch up with her sisters.  We will keep you posted on what we find out.  This tiny baby is absolutely amazing.

Brenna, now without vent tube!
I don’t know what to say about Anna and Lucy except WOW! During some of our conversations with nurses last week, it’s become apparent they are not acting like typical 25 week babies. Both girls have grown so much in such a short amount of time. Typically, once they hit 3lbs and are able to hold their body temperatures stable, they can move to cribs. Anna is weighing in at 3lbs even, Lucy at 2lbs 14, so they are both getting close. We’ve been dressing them in layers, and steadily decreasing the temperature in their beds to prepare them for jailbreak. Both girls are doing very well on their respiratory as well as feedings. Lucy has been given the go ahead to start nuzzling with Mommy to simulate breastfeeding, and so far she has done very well with it. She may have accidently got some of the “real deal” the other day. Feeding can be an issue with micro-preemie babies, so to see her interested already is a step in the right direction.
That’s where we stand for now. As always, all of your prayers are appreciated. Every time we sit down to write, something else comes up, so apologies on the gap between updates. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day between diapers, feedings, doctors and everything else that goes on here. Until next time, God Bless.

In His name,
Brad, Angie, Anna, Brenna, and Lucy Kamps

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Surgery Update 10.12.10

Brenna had her PDA ligation surgery yesterday.  Everything went well although there was a little extra "oozing" at the site that they need to keep an eye on.  She was completely out of it all day yesterday but has started opening her eyes and looking around now.  She is one puffy little girl right now but the swelling should go down in a few days.  We are grateful that everything appears to have gone okay and we look forward to her catching up with her sisters now that the problem is fixed.  We are continually amazed at her strength...she has endured 3 surgeries in the first 6 weeks of her life!  What a little trooper we have in Brenna.  She makes her mommy and daddy very proud! Okay, off to do diaper changes...good night and God bless!

Brad, Angie, Lucy, Anna, and Brenna

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's Pumpkin Time!

We decided to play dress up this morning with the help of nurses Steph and Anna...Here are a few pics from the photoshoot. Miss Brenna was a wee bit sleepy as you can see from the pics. Anna was her mellow self while Miss Lucy apparently had a lot to say! Enjoy!
On the left Brenna, on the right Anna...all is quiet.

The trio is complete.  Lucy is telling a tall tale to her sisters (from Left to Right: Lucy, Brenna, Anna)

The excitement builds...

Anna trying to look interested in her sister's story, Brenna is not impressed.

Is anybody listening to me???

Update 10.10.2010

Greetings from the NICU. Short update today. Overall it has been a pretty good weekend in the NICU. The girls are really starting to show their personalities now that they are getting bigger. Lucy is turning out to be quite the little jabber box, she always has something to say. Brenna is our little sweetie who takes things as they come, and never gets too upset about anything. Anna is our little thinker, always looking right at you with a studious look on her face. It's amazing how different they are at such a young age. They are also finally starting to put on some weight. Brenna is leading the pack at 2lbs 7oz, followed by Anna at 2lbs 5oz, and Lucy holding at 2lbs 4oz.

It was a a bittersweet day Friday. Our friends Ryan and Denielle got to take their two little boys, James and Joseph, home. It was hard to see them go, but we are so happy they were able to get their lives started as a family. We look forward to hearing from them with updates on their two little ones. We wish them all the best. Please keep them in your prayers as they start raising their boys.

As this week starts, it's going to include another surgery for Brenna. She had to move back to the vent this weekend after the doctors determined her heart valve is going to need to be closed. This is the same surgery her sisters had shortly after they were born. It's a fairly straight forward procedure, but it is invasive surgery none the less. Prayers are appreciated. Hopefully this is the last surgery for our little Brenna for a while.

We'd also like to congratulate Angie's cousin Ryan and his new wife Kayla. They were married on Saturday and we would like to say thank you for taking a moment on your day to remember our girls in the NICU. The prayer during the ceremony meant the world to us. If you heard sniffling in the back row, it was us. :)

We know Halloween is a few weeks away, but we thought we'd end this with something that made us smile, we hope it makes you smile too.

In His name,

Brad, Angie, Anna, Brenna, and Lucy Kamps

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

10.6.10 Update

Greetings from the NICU. The girls are 5 weeks old today. Overall, our peanuts have been doing pretty well, but with each little victory, comes another challenge. But progress is progress and we’ll take it any way we can get it. It’s one day closer to going home.

Friday brought more surgery for Brenna. She had a reservoir inserted under the skin on her scalp to help make draining the fluid in her head easier for the neurosurgeon. Now instead of having to go through the brain, he is able to insert the needle through the skin to withdraw the excess fluid. Previously, all procedures had been done right in the NICU, but this time Brenna had to go on a little ride to the operating room. As scary as it was to watch our little trooper get wheeled into surgery, the operating room is a much more controlled, sterile environment and the very best option for this procedure. Brenna handled it all very well. She is still puffy from surgery, but we are continually amazed at how tough she is. She has been poked and prodded more than any little girl should require, but at this point she seems to say, “Bring it on, I can handle it” when it’s time for another needle stick. In fact, she handles it better than Mommy and Daddy do.

Many firsts took place this week. For the girls one month birthday, the evening nurses decided it was time for another photo shoot. We came the next morning to find our girls in clothes for the first time. It really puts it into perspective how little they are when you see them swimming in preemie clothes. But the fact they are well enough to be able to wear clothes now absolutely melts our hearts. It does however mean we are closer to starting our cycle of never-ending laundry. We can’t have our babies in loaner hospital clothes, so we immediately pulled all of the tags off our preemie clothes at home and got them washed and to the hospital. We may be a bit biased, but they are now the best dressed babies in the NICU.

The girls have been steadily increasing their feedings, with Brenna being the exception due to surgery, but she is slowly getting back into the swing of things. As we are learning, increased input does equal increased output. The girls are now out of the micro-preemie diapers and into modified preemie diapers. Like the onesies, you can really see how tiny our girls are as the preemie diapers are massive on them. But with some scissors and a little medical tape, we learned to fashion some in-betweens that work just fine for now. As of last night, all three girls have passed the 2lb mark, with Lucy and Brenna leading the way at 2lbs 2oz, and Anna right at 2lbs. It’s hard to believe how much of a difference 8-10oz can make on a little one; they look like they are starting to fill out a bit.

The weekly head ultrasounds continue, and we finally got a little good news. There has been no significant increase in any of the swelling on any of the girls, and Anna’s swelling is actually starting to decrease. There was concern she may have required tapping to drain like Brenna. With the decrease in swelling, the neurosurgeon is optimistic she may be able to avoid it all together. So far, there has been no reason to believe Lucy will require any medical intervention for swelling, as her soft spot has not felt full at all, according to the doctors.

Now for the best news we got this week: all three girls have had their breathing tubes removed. They are all on Vapotherm, which is a high-flow oxygen system, which only requires nose prongs. In a strange role reversal, Lucy was the first girl to try this machine out. Normally she waits for her sisters to try something first, then decides if it’s ok. She was extubated Friday about the same time Brenna was headed down for surgery, so we didn’t really get to celebrate this milestone like we had hoped. Anna followed on Sunday, and Brenna on Monday. Moving to this machine is a huge step for all of them. Any time they can have off assisted breathing is time for their lungs to develop and get stronger. Hopefully, we won’t be going back to the vents anytime soon. With all the tubes out, we get to see their faces, hear their first little cries, and really start to get to know their unique facial expressions and quirks. This may be the last time we say this, but hearing them cry for the first time was a feeling we can’t put into words, just phenomenal.

5 weeks in and we are still kicking. As stated before, progress is progress; no matter how little it may be at the time. There has been a lot of “one step forward, two steps back”, but our girls are getting those steps back, and that is all we can ask God for. We appreciate all the prayers, meals, gifts and help you all have provided. Just knowing how many of you are willing to take time out of your schedules to help out makes it possible for us to focus on our girls. We can’t wait until you can meet them. They are special girls. Thank you. God bless.

In His name,

Brad, Angie, Anna, Brenna and Lucy Kamps

Monday, September 27, 2010

9.27.10 Update

Greetings from the NICU, another week down, another roller coaster ride...or three! Our girls will be 4 weeks old Wednesday, and a lot of it has been a blur. For the most part things have been pretty good, but we have had our share of trials this week in and out of the NICU.

Thursday we had our first consultation with the neurosurgeon regarding the girls’ head bleeds and swelling. In his opinion, Anna and Brenna were going to need taps and shunts in the future, and he recommended moving them to the University of Iowa hospitals. We were devastated by this news, not only the fact they both would possibly require surgery, but also by the fact we were going to have to separate Anna and Brenna from her sister, not to mention Mommy and Daddy, for the duration of our NICU stay. And to top it all off, it’s the worst possible place for a Cyclone fan to have to spend three hours there, but three months?!!??! Are you serious? :) We had scheduled head ultrasounds Friday morning to determine if there was a change that would require the girls to be transferred.

Fortunately the ultrasounds showed no change in the girls’ status. Friday also brought another consult with a different neurosurgeon. He informed us that while he shared his partners’ conclusion the girls may need taps and possibly shunts, there was no medical reason to transfer them to a different hospital as he is capable and willing to perform the procedures right here. He also told us even if the girls required taps to relieve pressure, there is no way to be certain they would require a shunt to be placed in the future, which of course relieved Mommy and Daddy. He was also on board with a combination of treatment options, such as performing taps until the girls are big enough for shunt surgery, and transferring them to the U of I at that time, or sending us over there immediately if we felt more comfortable with that, but making sure that it was all of us, not just Anna and Brenna. Brenna did require a tap on Sunday afternoon, but the procedure was not as scary as we thought it would be. We pray a couple of taps will be enough to resolve her swelling issues, but only time will tell.

Overall the girls have had a pretty good few days in terms of preemies. Anna is on full feeds for her weight, which is 12ml of a ½ and ½ mixture of breastmilk and high calorie formula and is starting to gain weight. If all continues to go well, she could be our first two pound peanut this week. As of now, she has no IV lines in her, and is giving the CPAP mask another go. She’s been on it since Saturday and has done very well for the last 60 hours. We have even been able to hear her make some little squeaks now that she no longer has a breathing tube down her throat.

What a difference a week made for our little Brenna bear. She has done extremely well after her stomach surgery two weeks ago. She started on Pedialyte on Friday, and after not eating for two weeks has worked her way back to 2ml of breast milk every 3 hours. Her color is starting to come back. She is starting to look less like a sick baby, and more like her sisters. We thank God every day for Brenna’s ability to recover, she has amazed everyone here, including the doctors. We have been told few kids recover from this surgery as well as she has. We know it’s been the power of all your prayers that has helped little Brenna through this situation.

As with everything else, Lucy appears to be taking her time, making it very clear we are on her schedule. Her feeding was going well, but she began to have issues spitting up, so they have backed her off a bit. She is on 4ml of milk every three hours, and is tolerating it well and on her way back up. All of her head ultrasounds have come back with no change, so we are thankful that as of now, she has had no additional swelling of concern. We have discovered she is a bit of a wild child, and swaddling has become the norm for her, but she doesn’t seem to mind as long as she gets to stretch out every now and then.

One thing we have noticed in the last few days is how aware the girls seem to be of their surroundings. They seem to be awake a lot more, just looking at things going on around them in their little isolated worlds. It melts Mommy and Daddy’s hearts when they open their bright eyes and look directly into ours. We look forward to the day we can hold them whenever we want.

The one constant throughout our stay here is the nurses here in the NICU. We can’t express enough how wonderful they have been. We have had too many emotional days to count, but there is always a friendly face to offer a smile, or a shoulder to cry on. I have been back at work because I have to be, but I am comfortable being there because I know Angie will be taken care of while I’m there. After the news we might have to leave Mercy, the night shift nurses decided that a photoshoot was necessary, and we wound up with 70+ pictures we may not have had otherwise. They even went as far as jockeying all of the equipment to get all the girls in the same bed so we could have a picture of them all together for the first time. It was more than they needed to do, and we could not appreciate it more. We truly appreciate the care they provide for us and our babies. We know that even when we are gone from their sides, our babies have people who love them nearby. They will all have a special place in our girls’ lives.

While our days inside the NICU have been relatively good, our life outside the NICU has been considerably more difficult for us. Our little kitty girl Cleo passed away Sunday night. She became sick shortly after the girls were born and stopped eating. We had her in and out of the vet several times the past week and tried everything we could to get her back to her feisty self. While receiving fluids to battle dehydration last night, she went into cardiac arrest. We miss her terribly and it just won’t be the same at our house without her. Ozzy and Cleo were our babies before we knew if we could have babies. We will never forget her. We take comfort in knowing she made the decision it was time, and spared Mommy and Daddy the heartache of making the decision no pet owner wants to make. And for those of you that have met Miss Cleo, you know that is the way she was, always on her terms.

God has really challenged us this week. From the possibility of having to split time in two different hospitals, to the passing of our little kitty, we have shed more than our share of tears. Nothing prepares you for this situation, and we have repeatedly found ourselves asking, “Why us?” We have learned to take each day as it comes. There is an end to this journey, but we know we are far from it. Our girls battle every day and we are so proud of them. We continue to pray God will take care of our girls and us.

In His name,

Brad, Angie, Anna, Brenna, and Lucy Kamps

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Update 9.22.2010

It’s been three weeks since we welcomed our peanuts into the world, but it certainly feels like it’s been much longer. The last three weeks have brought a range of emotions, and we are still learning how to handle being parents. We have a long road in front of us, but life in the NICU goes one day at a time.

We’ll start with Lucy. This week has been a pretty good one for Lucy. She has really started taking her pacifier, more so than her sisters. It’s crazy to watch this little girl work her giant pacifier, but she loves it. Feedings are going well. She is receiving 5ml of breast milk every 4 hours and is tolerating it very well. It looks like she is starting to fill out a little bit; her weight is up to a whopping 1lb 13oz. Lucy has recovered from her PDA ligation surgery from last Monday, and her incision is healing like it is supposed to.

Brenna continues to amaze the doctors with her recovery from a perforated bowel. Her drainage tube came out earlier than expected, and the incision is almost completely healed. The doctors are hoping to start her on Pedialite as early as Friday. She has continued to poop, which at this point is a good thing, and getting her back on food will be a major step in her recovery. We pray the bowel has repaired itself and she will not require any more surgery to correct the perforation. The cardiologist also checked the murmur that was discovered last week. In his opinion, it is a moderate opening, and as long as it doesn’t cause any issues, she will not require surgery at this time to close it.

Anna has been our little eater. She is receiving 6ml of breast milk every 3 hours and has had no issues with feedings. Like her sister Lucy, she has started to gain a little bit of weight. She is up to 1lb 12oz. Anna has also recovered very quickly from her PDA ligation, and has shown no ill effects from her surgery. She has attempted the pacifier, but isn’t quite ready to handle it just yet. She is going to be our drama queen as every diaper change and temperature check is the worst thing in the world.

For all of our good news, we unfortunately have some bad to report as well. A follow up head ultrasound has determined Anna and Brenna have developed some swelling as a result of the brain bleeds they suffered at birth. Lucy’s ultrasound came back with no changes, so we are thankful. The doctor has scheduled a consultation with the neurosurgeon for this week to get their opinion, as well as another head ultrasound for Friday. We should know more about the condition and what the next step is after that. These little girls need your help more than ever now. Please continue to pray for them and their mommy and daddy.

It’s been an up and down week for us. We take each day as it comes. Celebrate the good, and push through the bad. It’s all we can do. This may not be the way we expected things to turn out, but God has a plan. We don’t understand it, but we know that He put these little girls in our life for a reason, and we thank Him every day for our little peanuts. Thank you for your continued support of our family. We appreciate every bit of it.

In His name,

Brad, Angie, Anna, Brenna and Lucy Kamps

Friday, September 17, 2010

Poop Party!

Poop! That’s the big news for today! After 8 days of waiting following bowel surgery Brenna has finally filled her little diaper…well, not filled but enough for us to be excited. Hopefully this means her entire intestinal tract is working and the perforation has healed. The last week has been tough with Brenna being on a morphine drip almost the entire time and showing little to no signs of stomach improvement…so it would be an understatement to say we are thrilled for today’s news. We will see what the doctor says at rounds tomorrow morning but hopefully this means she will be able to avoid a second stomach surgery in the near future. Unfortunately, it was discovered yesterday that she has a heart murmur like her two sisters and will require the heart surgery to fix her PDA. More than likely the doctors will wait a while to perform the procedure so that her stomach issues might be resolved. She is also off her morphine drip and becoming more and more alert and active which makes mommy and daddy very very happy.

All three girlies are now off the high frequency ventilators and onto the dragger (the next step up in respiration assistance). For about 27 hours Anna was extubated and on the CPAP machine trying to breathe on her own. She did great but got a little tired after a while and needed to be reintubated. Hopefully she will be able to try again in a few days. The doctors assure us that having to go back and forth is normal for babies her size when they are trying to master breathing. The PDA surgery seems to have done wonders for Anna and Lucy as they have both recovered quickly and are very active little girls. It brings us such joy to see their little eyes open and alert. Anna is even becoming quite good at working her pacifier (there are new pictures on facebook).

With all three girls on the dragger, all are able to be held at this point (for the first time!). Angie held Miss Brenna today for over 2 hours. Brenna has not been able to be held since before her surgery so this was a very welcomed time for both mommy and Brenna. Daddy was able to hold Miss Anna for a few hours this afternoon as well. We ran out of time for Lucy but she will be first on the list tomorrow morning.

It feels amazing to finally be able to write an update with more good news than bad. Obviously Brenna is still far from out of the woods but today was a victory and we pray that tomorrow brings us more good news. Please continue to pray for our little peanuts. Your support has been overwhelming. When things seem so bleak it is comforting to think about how many family, friends and even complete strangers there are praying and pulling for our family. I dream about the day that I can show off my tough little girls to everyone…they are sure to melt some hearts.

Each day that passes we are able to learn a little more about their different personalities, it’s crazy how different they can be at such a young age. Brenna is definitely our most laid back little lady while Anna is quite spunky and sassy. She likes to give her parents and the nurses a hard time. She is a master at getting all her limbs out of the swaddle position and then flaunts it by laying sprawled out in victory. There is definitely some attitude there. Lucy appears to be the ring leader. She was the one that set this whole early arrival in motion by breaking her sac and appears to enjoy taking her time with her milestones, only progressing after one of her sisters has tried it out first. She was even able to somehow negotiate her own room for a couple nights post surgery!

This will be the last email update we send as we have finally started work on our new blog. Updates and eventually pictures will be posted on the site. Here is the URL: We hope you will keep following our girls journey in the NICU and beyond and we look forward to comments and notes on the website.

We know we have many more trials to face before our girls arrive home but tonight we celebrate a great day with our babies. God is Good!

In His name

Brad, Angie, Lucy, Brenna, and Anna

September 12, 2010 Update

Here is an update for you on our three girls. Miss Brenna’s surgery on Thursday (9/10) to insert a drain into her abdomen went as well as we could hope. She is slowly recovering, but is heavily medicated at this point. The tube seems to be doing its job, they have not detected any gasses in her abdomen after several days of x-rays. It will still be another 5-7 days before we know what’s next. We are praying for poopies. This will indicate no blockage in the bowel and a successful procedure. About a week from now, they will give her some dye to track through her digestive system to look for potential narrow/blockages of her bowel, which could result in more surgery. Pray that Miss Brenna continues to improve. She has been weaned from much of the support she needed immediately after surgery, and has started moving around and opening her eyes for mommy and daddy. She’s still not herself, and we anxiously await her return to normal.
Friday brought tough news for Miss Anna and Miss Lucy, and Mommy and Daddy. After a night of keeping the nurses busy with erratic oxygen levels and heart rates, the girls had a visit from the cardiologist. Ultrasounds revealed both little girls have a condition known as PDA. A small valve outside their heart has failed to close on its own, and has begun to pass blood into their lungs. Normally this valve closes on its own at birth. This means our babies will require a surgical procedure to clamp off this valve. We are meeting with the cardiac surgeon early Monday morning, and the surgeries will follow Monday afternoon. We have been told it is a common procedure for micro-preemies, but terrifying for Mommy and Daddy none the less. There will be a few days of recovery during which time, the girls will be separated and sedated. Mommy and Daddy are very much enjoying watching them move around right now, as we know it will be the last for a few days. Pray for Miss Anna and Miss Lucy they come out of their surgery well and recover quickly.
Monday will also bring follow up head ultrasounds to check for any additional swelling. Currently, the doctors and nurses can’t detect any visual signs of swelling, but only an ultrasound will tell. A telling sign is an increase in head circumference and inflammation of the soft spot, which they have not seen. We are constantly praying the bleeding has receded. Pray for the girls they have no additional swelling.
As you can tell, we are still in desperate need of your prayers and support. The girls are fighting with all their tiny hearts, and Mommy and Daddy are so proud of our little warriors. Every day seems to bring a new challenge, we pray for the day things start to turn around and we can be a family. We have learned to cherish the little victories. Miss Lucy has been move off of the high intensity ventilator and we both got to experience the miracle of holding your baby for the first time, for the third time. She is very much a cuddler, and we wish we could have held her all day long. But she needs her rest for tomorrow. We were also able to hold Miss Anna again today. I can’t describe what it’s like to feel her little heart against ours. Holding them makes you forget everything else for that hour, and we don’t ever want to give the girls back to the nurse.
We are still working on finding time to get the blog up and going. We have managed to get some pictures on facebook, so if you would like to see them, and you have an account, send Angie or I a request. One last note, my mother is also having surgery Monday morning, as well and Angie’s Uncle Sherman later in the week. Also Angie’s parent’s neighbor Ann suffered a brain aneurism this weekend, and is in the hospital. All three could use some prayers sent their way as well. Thank you again for all of the support and prayers. We are humbled and grateful for the amount of love shown to our family. Please know if you have tried calling, emailing, visiting, etc, and haven’t had a response, it’s not because we don’t appreciate it. We have had many rough days, and it is difficult to focus on anything except our babies.
In His name,
Brad, Angie, Anna, Brenna, and Lucy Kamps

September 10, 2010 Update

Here is a quick update for you on the girls. It’s been a rough couple of days. On Wednesday, we were told there was evidence of bleeding in all three girls’ brains that occurred at birth. We don’t know what this means, and won’t for quite some time. On Monday, the girls will be reassessed to ensure no additional swelling has occurred. If there is swelling present, the fluid will need to be drained. So far there are no outside signs of swelling, but the only way to know is with another ultrasound. We pray that the girls have no swelling and the blood to have been absorbed into the body. We ask for your prayers.
Miss Brenna gave us quite a scare Wednesday night into Thursday morning. She had swelling in her stomach and her vitals began to decrease. The doctors discovered a perforation in her bowel, and it was causing air and waste to leak out. The pediatric surgeon was called and inserted a tube in her abdomen to drain the fluid in her stomach. It usually takes 24-48 hours to know if it worked like it is supposed to, but right now, things are draining, and her vitals are improving. The nurses and doctors classify her as “critically stable”, but things will be touch and go for quite some time. Pray that Miss Brenna will be strong and make it past this hurdle without requiring more invasive surgery.
On a more uplifting note, Miss Anna and Miss Lucy are holding up well. Both have their eyes open and are very active and feisty. Lucy is still on the high frequency ventilator, but her oxygen concentration has been turned down, and she has been adjusting well. Miss Anna has been moved off the high frequency vent, and got to enjoy some mommy/baby bonding time. Angie held her for an hour and a half to end our day on a much needed high note. Pray that Miss Lucy and Miss Anna continue to be stable.
Thanks again for all the notes of support and prayers. We sincerely appreciate all of them. Please continue to hold us and our girls in your thoughts, so they may be uplifted. We can’t wait until we can bring our three beautiful baby girls home and you all can meet them. They amaze us every day; so tiny, yet such fighters.
In His Name,
Brad, Angie, Anna, Brenna, and Lucy Kamps

The "Kamplets" are here! Born September 1, 2010

As you all know, we have had a wild week. Angie was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday afternoon (8/31), and by Wednesday morning, our girls had made their appearance at 25 weeks. It has been an up and down first 5 days, and we are just now starting to dig in for the long road ahead. We apologize for the lack of updates, but it’s difficult for us to put into words everything that has happened.
We are grateful for the amount of well wishes and prayers you all have been sending our way. From an outpouring of love and support from our church, an elementary class in Des Moines, to a baptism in Connecticut and everywhere in between, it’s been just overwhelming. God is good and our girls are strong, but face an uphill battle. I pray every day they feel His love and power and are comforted by His presence.
So everyone is on the same page, here is where we stand. Tuesday afternoon at approximately 1:30p Baby A (Lucy’s) sac ruptured. Angie was admitted to the hospital for what were we expecting to be three weeks of strict bed rest and eventual delivery at 28 weeks gestation. Around midnight, she began to experience major contractions, and by 1:30a she was fully dilated and in labor. She was rushed into the OR for an emergency C-section. Annaliese Hope was born at 2:50am, followed by Brenna Renee at 2:51am, and finally Lucy Jane at 2:52am. Angie was taken to recovery, and the babies were immediately admitted to the NICU at Mercy. 
In the last few days, there have been ups and downs, and we are preparing for many more. Anna had some fluid in her lungs, which was cause for concern, but that seems to have corrected itself. She does however have a heart murmur. This could be a result of the fluid in her lungs, or it could be a duct in the heart that needs to be closed at birth that may be partially closed or not closed at all. She will need to be checked by the cardiologists.  We have been told this is a common occurrence in babies born this early. It can be corrected with medication, but it may require surgery.
A major concern for premature infants is a brain bleed which can occur within the first three days after birth. Level 1 and level 2 brain bleeds can be nothing more than bruises, while level 3 and level 4 brain bleeds can cause a lot of problems. The girls will be screened for this on Wednesday, via a brain ultrasound. We should have results of the ultrasound on Wednesday evening, but we are asking for prayers that our little peanuts are ok. Another major concern for preemies is infection. Please pray they avoid them.
Fortunately, today was full of encouraging steps. Miss Lucy no longer requires her phototherapy for battling bruises and jaundice. Miss Brenna has opened both eyes and is on a less invasive ventilator. If her breathing continues to improve, we may be able to actually hold her in the next few days. Miss Anna has both eyes open as well and is no longer required to be on her side to help with the fluid in her lungs. All three girls got their first breast milk via IV today and all have handled it like champs, as well as no longer requiring full time antibiotics. As I type, they are all three resting comfortably in their own little isolettes.
I apologize for the mass email, it was the easiest way to go at this point. Please feel free to pass this along to anyone who would be interested. Any and all prayers are welcome and appreciated. Please help two scared, first time parents through the most difficult time in their lives. We really enjoy the quick words of encouragement everyone has offered, it helps pass the time in the NICU. We might not respond right away, but know your words are received and treasured. Our life motto has become “Never easy”, but where worry ends, faith begins.  We are attempting to set up a blog to make this a bit easier, and we will make it available as soon as we find time to get it going.
On our very first day in the NICU, one of our nurses said, “I don’t believe that God gives you anything you can’t handle”.  We believe it, too. Why He has chosen this path for us, we may never know, but it is His will, and we thank him every day for our three little blessings.
In His name,
Brad, Angie, Anna, Brenna, and Lucy Kamps