Tuesday, March 24

Find You Waiting

This posting title is the name to one of my favorite Christian songs. It has been out awhile, I think almost a year. I might have been pregnant, with the triplets, when it came out. The artist name is Decemberadio, and it has sort of an Aerosmith sound . The chorus goes like this: "And through all these years you have been there. Dried all my tears and answered my prayers. I just want to feel your presence again. I’m down on my knees in need a friend. and I find you waiting there for me" The Lord has dried our family's tears and answered our prayers. It's an awesome time in our family right now. Yes we're still healing from the loss of our son and daughter, but God's presence has been continuous. He has been here, and we must praise Him for the bad and good times.

As you all know Austin has been home with us for 2 weeks now. We're enjoying our time together as a family of four. It's still hard to believe what all Austin had to endure to make it home. I wish his journey could have been easier, but at the same time it could have been harder. When Chris and I say something such as "the boys" we smile and look at each other in amazement. I think we were afraid to say that we had 2 boys while Austin was in the hospital, because we were so afraid that he would be taken from us and join his little siblings. We still can't say, just like anyone else about their family, that Austin (or Bradley) will live a long life. We've certainly come to terms with our mortality. So, we're making the most of everyday enjoying wonderful family time. We've spent a lot of time outdoors going for walks and letting Bradley play. Bradley is turning into a protective big brother and watches people closely as they get near his little brother. I'm waiting on him to repeat the words that I do such as "please don't get too close" or "he was very premature" and things along those lines.

Austin had 2 doctor's appointments yesterday. One with his pulmonologist, Dr. Brown, and one with his pediatrician, Dr. Baggett. Dr. Brown was very reassuring and positive. He said there was no way to know for sure about Austin's long term prognosis, because each child is different. He says we can turn Austin's oxygen to the lowest level in the next couple of weeks (1/32) as we see that he can handle it according to his O2 sats. He would tell us to turn it off completely during the day if it weren't for Austin's reflux and us having to turn it up during feedings (from 1/16 to 1/8). We go back to him on April 22nd, and he said then if Austin continues to do well we'll talk about turning it off during waking hours. What wonderful news! It will be nice to not be tied to the oxygen. He'll still have the apnea monitor, but that isn't so hard to pick up take with me. Right now I can't carry him around the house with the oxygen. Austin has only had a few apnea spells, and all of them but one have been during feedings. He just gets hungry and fixated on eating and forgets to breath. It's very normal for very babies who were born very premature. Then, we went to the pediatrician. Austin now weighs 7lbs 5 oz! He is the size Bradley was when he was born, so not too bad. Dr. Baggett was so pleased with his weight gain. She said if he gained anymore he'd burst! :-) The reflux is a problem, so she changed him to Bethancol and Carafate instead of the Reglan and Maalox. So, hopefully that will work. Thankfully the reflux doesn't keep him from eating and gaining weight, so we are able to avoid surgery for it right now! Yah! Austin is doing exactly what he should be at this point for a newborn. The doctor even told us that if Austin will sleep he can go 2 4-hour stretches at night. We've been having to wake him up for some feedings at night. Of course, last night he only went one 3 1/2 hour stretch, but we'll take 2 1/2 hours of sleep at one time- it's the longest stretch we've slept since he came home. So, we'll see what he does. If he wakes up every 3 hours then we'll feed him. It's just so amazing that he is doing so well. . . a true miracle given by God. We are also allowed to go to the Zoo, Park, and any other places outdoors as long as we keep people away from Austin. So, that is exciting! We will go back to the pediatrician mid April, and see what she says then about being around people indoors. Let me know if you have any suggestions for other fun things outside. Thank you all for your prayers. Keep them coming. We think Austin will be just fine, but we appreciate the prayers so much. God is watching over us and answering our prayers. We're loving life with our 2 boys!

Friday, March 20

March for Babies

March for Babies t-shirt. Here are the front and back.
The March for Babies is 5 weeks away. We're hoping to have lots of walkers on our team and be able to collect a huge donation for March of Dimes. To sign up to walk please go to: www.marchforbabies.com/lhwicker. You can also sponsor our team there. For those of you who don't know, we are the ambassadors this year for the Palmetto Health Richland Women's Services and NICU. So, the t-shirt for the walk has Austin's, Chris', and my hand prints on it. It turned out very cute, don't you think?
There are several colors available: light blue, bright yellow, pale pink, white, and ash. Everyone is asked or encouraged to wear the light blue one for the walk. T-shirts are $15 for short sleeve and $20 for long sleeve; infant and youth sizes are $10. The available sizes: infant 6m, 18m, 24 mo; youth sizes XS (2-4), S (6-8), M (10-12), L (14-16) XL (18-20); and adult sizes are S, M, L, XL, XXL & 3XL. Please let me know if you would like to order one. All orders must be in by April 15th.
March of Dimes is a big deal to us after the birth of our 24 week, micro-preemie triplets. We want to honor Austin's life and the memory of Brayden and Lexi. We know that without March of Dimes research and findings that Austin wouldn't be sleeping soundly at home right now. March of Dimes hopes that one day all children will be born healthy. To read more about our story you can go to: http://www.march4babies.blogspot.com/
Thank you all for your time and support! It will help save babies' lives, and we are grateful.
And an update on our family . . .
Austin is doing well. We have had a rough few days, but his problems seem to be coming from his reflux. So, now that seems better controlled and has helped so much. I got on the scale last night with him, and there was a 7lb difference! We go to the pediatrician on Monday, so we’ll see how much he weighs. Please pray he continues to eat well, so he can grow stronger! We also have our first appointment with the pulmonologoist Monday morning. I'm not sure the inhaled steroid is doing much good for him. It's difficult for a baby to take in all the medication even though we are using a spacer and mask to administer it. So, perhaps he will recommend we switch to a nebulizer. We'll do whatever is best for Austin. I'm very ready to see this doctor and hear more about Austin's Chronic Lung Disease. He breaths very fast sometimes, but we've been told by that it's normal for preemies who have lung damage. I just want some sort of plan and hope that this can improve. So, please pray for that too. Bradley is doing well with Austin. The first thing he does when he wakes up is look for Austin. He has told family that it's his baby and that they can't have him! It's is very obvious that he loves him. We're so grateful to have everyone under one roof. Caring for Austin can be difficult (since he requires more special attention than the average baby), but it's very welcome right now. Thank you all for your prayers. God is good, and we're just trying to give it all to Him and trust.

Sunday, March 15

God always has a plan and purpose

Austin has been home for almost a week. We've had some ups and downs, but we're hopeful as things seem to be looking up. Austin has had some feeding issues and requiring a little more oxygen while eating, but everything seems to be from his reflux. He wasn't taking his bottles very well, taking too long to take them, and not finishing most of them. Preemies have to finish their bottles in a certain time or else they're burning more calories than they are taking in. So, yesterday we called and spoke to the pediatrician on call and she told us to add Maalox to his medicine regimen. We started that twice a day and started laying him on his right side during the night and after feedings. Both things seem to be helping a lot as he has finished all of his bottles since last night. Chris and I have been praying that God will give us the knowledge and strength to care for Austin. Thankfully, we've had a baby who also had reflux and that has helped tremedously. We're certain that it was all part of God's plan with Bradley having reflux and being so high needs. God knew exactly 3 years ago this past week what He had in store for us. We thought life was hard with Bradley, but we had no idea. God was preparing us, giving us the knowledge and experience to care for our little Austin. It's so amazing. Austin has had a few brady's (drop in heart rate) since being home- all but one have been during feedings which also gives us the idea that his problems are reflux. He hasn't required any stimulation with them, so he is correcting them on his own. You can almost look at him and see that he is growing bigger day by day. He can only fit in a few preemie outfits now. We gave him his first tub bath today since being home. I had only sponged him off a few times before. Austin seemed to enjoy his bath; he smells extra sweet now. So, as long as the reflux continues to improve Austin should be fine. In the hospital, we had a radio that always played WMHK. So, now I've been playing the Chrisitian station on our Dish. The music really seems to calm him. Maybe he is going to be a Christian singer. I really feel like he is going to be a preacher-so maybe this musice will lead him to know and love God- that would be awesome- he has a story to tell. He has already led so many people to Christ, and I know he could bring so many more to Him. I know God has a purpose for our little miracle, and I can't wait to see it all unfold.

Wednesday, March 11

Austin's 1st Outing

Today, Austin had his first appointment with his pediatrician. Dr. Baggett is Bradley's doctor, and she is wonderful. She has been there to lend us Christan support through the pregnancy, loss of Brayden and Lexi, and now bringing Austin home. She said Austin looks well. He weighed 6lbs, still small for almost 40 weeks gestation but we'll take it. Austin's reflux is still bothering him, so we're going to try Prevacid instead of Nexium. Hopefully, that will help as it has helped Bradley tremendously. Austin had trouble with some of his feedings earlier today, but has done better this evening. We really think his trouble is due to his reflux as Dr. B said his throat looked red and you can hear him refluxing. Home health is coming out tomorrow for their first appointment. Then, we go to the eye doctor Friday morning for his ROP (retinopothy of prematurity) to be checked. Last checkup showed a grade I, so we're hoping that is all there is as grades I and II don't require surgical intervention. Dr. Baggett wants us to call her Friday with an update, but we don't have to go back until the 23rd. We also go to the pulmonologist that day. I have to schedule a follow-up with the surgeon from his hernia surgery and to check on his bilateral hydroceles. We will also have an appointment with the gastroenterologist in the next month and a urologist. We're busy busy, but we welcome it as long as we're all together. Chris has been off since yesterday around lunchtime, but he'll go back to work bright and early tomorrow morning all day. So, I'm praying everything goes smoothly. As of now, we have to stick to the rules about visitors and outings. Austin will receive his second round of immunizations around April 20th and things may change after that. We're allowed to go outside for now, so that is good. We'll take it. :-) So, all is good in the Wicker household for now. Austin is getting his 11pm bottle, and we're praying for a good night. We'll be up again in a couple of hours. . .

Austin's Homecoming

Austin's Homecoming March 9th - 15 weeks 2 days old, 39 weeks 3 days gestation
Austin and his nurse, Ms. Jenny
Austin in his going home outfit
The shirt had his initials on it- so cute The crib he had been in was wheeled right out to the car
We made it. Austin in his carseat and ready to go home!

Tuesday, March 10

Bradley's 3rd Birthday Party
March 7th
Playing outside
Blowing out the candles
Opening Presents Eating with his friends
March 9th
15.5 weeks old, 39.5 weeks gestation
Austin's 1st Photo with Daddy & Mama
March 9th
1st picture of our boys, sweet brothers
March 7th
Bradley's 3rd Birthday Party
I'll post more pictures later. Austin's asleep, so I'm heading back to bed. :-)

Monday, March 9

These are the days

These are some of the days that I always want to remember. . . Bradley's 3rd Birthday and Austin's Homecoming! Bradley's birthday was wonderful; it was filled with loved ones and great weather. He had a big time with his friends, a last "hoorah" before we go into hiding and he can't be around any of his little friends. He enjoyed eating lunch with all of his best buds, opening lots (and lots and lots!:-) )of great presents, and enjoying yummy cake. Then, we ended the festivities with some time outside on the playground. Even Lexi and Brayden got to join in the special day. As we were packing up, all of Bradley's balloons floated out of the car and up into the sky. Chris asked if I knew were they had gone, and we both smiled. Our two youngest children got to share in the fun with Bradley's Mickey Mouse themed balloon. It meant a lot to us, and we feel sure that they hand-picked the gorgeous, sunny day just for their big brother's birthday. We took Bradley to Waffle House, his favorite, last night. He enjoyed a waffle and bacon, then went to Wal-mart to stock up on groceries. Bradley was allowed to pick out a special birthday gift for himself. He picked out a Tonka truck mat and loaded it into the buggy himself. We're going to get a play set/swing set it's just going to take awhile for his birthday. We had a wonderful last weekend just the 3 of us. I was a little emotional last night as we put Bradley to bed thinking that would be the last time before Austin came home. Austin homecoming makes it official that we've gone from having 1 child to 2 children at home- it's the end of an era for the Wickers. So, Austin is home. It has been a good afternoon with him. We left the hospital hospital around 3:30pm today. Austin was wheeled from room to room of the NICU, so we could say our goodbyes to everyone who was there today. We were so excited to be taking Austin home, but a lot of those nurses seem like family to us now- so it was a little sad. Plus, all we've been through sine we first step foot in that NICU 15 1/2 weeks ago- wow, I had no idea what the outcome would be- but we're so grateful to take our little miracle home. Austin has done well so far at home. I've given him 3 bottles so far; he gets them every 3 hours. I just finished his 11pm bottle, changed his diaper and outfit, and gave him some tummy time. Chris is on call today and tonight, so he left to go back to work after Bradley went to bed at 9. Austin and I have just been hanging out. He is a good boy, feed him and he's happy! He is on oxygen and an apnea monitor, which we thankfully haven't had any alarms so far. We have tons of doctor's appointments to schedule: surgeon, opthomology, pulmonology and the list goes on. We see Austin's pediatrician on Wednesday for his 1st well baby check. Chris is taking Wednesday off and will be able to go to that with us- praise the Lord I'm so glad he is off for that. I was a little nervous about driving all the way across town with 2 boys and all of Austin's equipment. I know I'll have to do it eventually, but I'd rather adjust to life at home first. It will all be good though- God has a plan and we're rejoicing in this wonderful time right now. It's so awesome to have Bradley, Austin, Chris, and me under one roof. Bradley has already told us, "Me love Austin." That is how all 3 of us feel right now, we want to enjoy everyday, and make the most of the blessings that God has given us.

Friday, March 6

A big week for us

Tomorrow Bradley will turn 3! I can't believe my oldest boy is that old! We are having a small (as small as this family can get) birthday party at our church to make it easier on us. We're having some of Bradley's favorite things to eat: pizza, fruit, and veggies. He wanted a Mickey Mouse party, so we're doing that too. We hope he'll have fun, because his life is about to change drastically. . . because Austin is scheduled to come home next week. Hopefully he will continue to behave and it will happen. Austin is doing well. He will come home on oxygen and monitors, but we're very prepared for that. It will be good to have him here finally after almost 4 months in the hospital. We don't have to leave Bradley anymore to go see Austin, and we won't have to leave Austin anymore to come home. Our family on earth will be under one roof, and that is an awesome feeling to us! I'll post more later. There is too much to do right now!