Sunday, October 14, 2012

On the day you were born...

Before you were born, we dreamed of you, 
imagined you, and prayed for you. 
Now that you're here, we hope for you, 
we love you, and we thank God for you.

As I sit down to write the story of their birth, I still can't believe it's true.  We have been given two precious gifts, a son and a daughter, to love and hold. Every day, Kaden and Katherine show us how strong they are and they become one day closer to coming home. What everybody says is true...we never knew we could love someone so much. :)

  There is so much I want to say and I know my words won't even be able to begin to accurately portray our thankfulness.  I honestly don't know exactly where to start, so I'll try my best to start at the beginning.:)
This is our 30 week picture.  I am SO glad that I made Karson take this on our way out the door to the doctor on the 10th even though we were running late.:)

This is Kaden David Williams, born at 3:33 p.m. on September 11, 2012.  He weighed 3 lbs. 13 oz. and he was 15 inches long. He entered the world crying, which was the most beautiful sound we've ever heard. We chose the name Kaden because it means "a beloved companion," which we thought was perfect for him, especially because he came early to help his sister.   David means "the beloved one."  We named him after my mom's father, David Lee, who passed away when I was very young. The neonatologist present at their birth, who we absolutely loved and who actually had twin boys that came at 25 weeks, was David Lee Weisoly, which we thought was a neat "coincidence." Karson was able to hold Kaden for a few seconds before the doctors took him.
Our sweet little guy then started having a little trouble breathing.  He had to be resuscitated and then intubated and put on the ventilator for a little while. It is all kind of a blur and I definitely was not fully processing everything that was happening, but I remember seeing tears in Karson's eyes and asking him why he was crying.  He told me he was just "so happy" instead of letting me know just how much trouble Kaden was having. I remember seeing Kaden struggle and saying one of my favorite Bible verses over and over, praying this prayer for Kaden (and for myself).          

"Be strong and courageous. 
Do not be afraid  for the LORD your God goes with you; 
He will never leave you nor forsake you."

Holding Daddy's finger for some comfort...
And then it was sister's turn...:)  Katherine Elizabeth Williams was also born at 3:33 p.m. on September 11, 2012.  She weighed 2 lbs., 7.1 oz. and she was 14.6 inches long.  She wasn't crying for what felt like an eternity, but she eventually started crying and actually scored a 7 on her Apgar, which is pretty great for a 2 lb. baby girl.:) We chose the name Katherine because we think it is a beautiful name.  It means "one who is pure." She also shares a name with Karson's Aunt Kathe, who we absolutely adore and has been one of our most fervent prayer warriors throughout our journey.  Elizabeth is Karson's mom's middle name and it means "my God is bountiful."
We think this is one of the most amazing pictures we have ever seen.  It is Katherine still in her amniotic sac.  If you look closely, you can see her toes.:)

Daddy was checking her out and holding her hand when she needed a little support.:)

Once Karson had left and followed Kaden and Katherine to the NICU, Dr. Wells came over to me and told me how glad he was that they had not waited another second to deliver them. He showed me their placentas and Katherine's placenta was so very small and her cord was barely attached to the very tiny, thin edge of her placenta.  I don't have a medical degree, but I knew immediately what he was saying. All babies are miracles, but it really was a miracle that she had survived.  We are not only extremely thankful, but we are also so humbled by the gift of her life. 

 Several hours after they were born, after my sweet friend Eleanor told the nurses that my bed was going to be wheeled to the NICU ONE way or ANOTHER:), I was finally able to go see them and touch them for the first time.   By then, Kaden was doing a little better.  He received surfactant through his tube to help his lungs stay open instead of collapsed, which is not uncommon for babies with neonatal distress syndrome. He was on IV fluids and receiving caffeine every few hours to help him "remember" to breathe. 

This is Karson with sweet Katherine.  I think we have a Daddy's girl and a Mama's boy in the making.:)
And I think she loved holding Mama's hand for the first time...:)
Katherine didn't have quite as much trouble breathing as brother did at first, but she still had respiratory distress syndrome.  The doctors attributed hers to her very small size for her gestational age. She just needed to be on CPAP, instead of a ventilator. She also was on IV fluids and caffeine to help with her breathing.  They were not able keep an IV in her, so they had to do an umbilical line.  Since her line had to be placed very low which could cause potential danger to her liver, it was almost 2 weeks before we could hold her. All of the nurses began to comment very early on that Katherine was extremely feisty (So proud of you Kat!), ripping out her lines and her oxygen just as soon as they would put them back in.:)  Can you blame her?:)

Now that I have shared all about their birthday, I wanted to rewind and tell a little bit about the events that led to their early SURPRISE arrival.  Many people have asked and it's taken a while for me to not only go through the thousands of pictures we have (I think 3,000 to be exact;)), but to also process everything that has happened.

On Friday, September 7, I went to see our perinatologist, Dr. Zaretsky.   We had known for some time that Katherine's placenta was very small and that her cord was only partially attached to her placenta. Because of this, her growth was restricted.  Due to her placental issues, our doctors were monitoring her fluid levels and the blood flow through her cord between her and her placenta. He noticed that Katherine's fluid level had dropped significantly, which was an early indicator that she could be in distress. The doppler to check for blood flow through her cord still looked good, so he sent me to my doctor for a second opinion.  My doctor, Dr. Wells, rechecked everything and said to come back on Monday and to come to the ER if I noticed a decrease in her movement over the weekend.  When I arrived at my appointment on Monday morning, Dr. Wells had already made arrangements to admit me to the hospital.  He said that he woke up at 3 am on Sunday worried about us and that he almost called me to have me come to the hospital.  Yes, he is THAT amazing of a doctor.:) When they did the sonogram and the doppler to check for blood flow, they noticed that there was "absent flow" in her cord.  Basically, her cord was shutting down, but there was no way to tell if it would take an hour or a month to completely shut down.  They monitored us all day and then went ahead and gave me a steroid shot to help develop their lungs. Dr. Zaretsky drove to the hospital to see me Monday night and he did another doppler, which showed an even greater loss in blood flow.  They explained the risks to Katherine if they waited to deliver.  If she had been a singleton, they would have taken her immediately, but they were trying to hold off as long as possible because they didn't want to have to deliver Kaden 10 weeks early. Karson and I prayed so much that night for the doctors to have wisdom.  It was so very obvious that they were truly torn by the decision that they were having to make. After much deliberation, they decided that they would check the blood flow to her cord in the morning and if it had gotten any worse, they would go ahead and deliver them.  On the morning of September 11th, two of my very dear friends, Meredith and Alli, came up to the hospital to be with me and they wheeled me downstairs to my doctor's office. When he checked, Katherine's blood flow actually looked a little better.  We were so relieved.   We let all of our friends and family know that September 11th was NOT going to be Baby Day.:)  They gave me the second steroid shot ( it takes 48 hours after the second shot to reach its full effect) and we started eating lunch.  When the nurses came in to check the babies on the monitors, they noticed a large deceleration for Katherine. I heard one of them ask another nurse to call Dr. Wells.  I think he must have taken a magic elevator, because it seemed like it only took him a few seconds to be in my room saying, "It's baby time." As I look back on that moment, I am so thankful that Mere, Alli, and Emily were there eating lunch with me.  Not only were they able to call Karson and have him rush to the hospital, but I was so glad that I wasn't alone when everything happened.  Once we arrived in Pre-Op, Katherine became a little more stable, so they were able to wait for Karson to arrive from work.  They also brought in the Neonatologist, Dr. Weisoly and several NICU nurses to explain to us what was going to happen.  While the Neonatologist was explaining everything to us, Katherine had another long deceleration and I started having frequent contractions,   so they immediately rushed us to the OR. And the rest is history...:)

Honestly, so much of that day is a blur.  I do remember being amazed at the number of people in the room and how quickly they were able to deliver the babies. I've found several pictures on our camera from the moments immediately before and after their arrival and I thought I'd share a few.  I'm sure glad we have pictures, because I don't remember very much of that day.
Haylee arrived with a Sonic drink for me, ready to just hang out :), right as they were wheeling me out of antepartum to Labor and Delivery.  I'm SO glad she was there to stay with me until Karson came and while the other girls were making arrangements for their kids to be taken care of. 
Alli, Mere, and Haylee
At some point, Eleanor and Hattie arrived as well.  They were also just dropping by after school to "hang out" with me on my first day of hospital bed rest.  Good timing girls!:)
This is right after delivery when Karson was with the babies in the NICU.  They were helping me with names until Karson could take over.;)
They were all so very sweet to me at such a wonderful, but also very emotional time. Karson's great Aunt Isabel and her son Stephen also came to visit. 
Karson came back to let me know how the babies were doing and was so very sweet to me.

Karson and I can't say enough how thankful we are for sweet Kaden and Katherine.  We are so thankful for our doctors and nurses, who were so amazing. We are also so very thankful for all of our friends and family who have been so amazing to us. Our parents came as soon as they could and have all been so helpful. My childhood bestie Lane drove in from Arkansas as soon as we had the babies, and the list goes on and on. All of the prayers and encouragement have meant the world to us.  We are also so thankful for other NICU parents ( you know you you are:)) who have walked us through our journey, reminding us that we will survive having to say goodbye to our babies every night. We have learned a new kind of empathy for so many parents who have sick children.  Watching their screams turn to whimpers as they are poked and cut, and not being able to hold them and comfort them is one of the most horrible feelings in the world. And we have only experienced a tiny taste of that. Katherine and Kaden are so strong and are such little fighters.  Every day they grow a little stronger and show us more of their sweet (and feisty! :)) personalities. 

Katherine and Kaden,  

Before you were born, we dreamed of you, 
imagined you, and prayed for you. 
Now that you're here, we hope for you, 
we love you, and we thank God for you.