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