Thursday, November 22, 2007

So Much To Be Thankful For...

Prepare yourselves....this is a long one!

Hey everyone,

First off, we'd like to thank everyone for the well wishes and congratulations. We've had a big couple of days and are always excited to find out what each new day will bring. Billy went back the apartment Tuesday night to prepare it for our holiday visitors and Becky kept me company at the hospital. We had a nice little slumber party and, being the saint that she is, even gave me an awesome pedicure using all the fun things Terri Peterson sent me. My feet and toes look more like play-doh logs with little sausages stuck to the ends. They say swelling is pretty typical after surgery, but it's funny to look down at my feet and legs and not recognize them as my own. It seriously looks like I have congestive heart failure and I'm just waiting for them to start weeping that oozy stuff. Gross!

Wednesday morning Billy, Becky and I made our NICU visit to see the kiddos. Pius was still on the ventilator because the nurse said that his chest xray showed white-out on his lungs. This is most likely caused by extra fluid in his lungs that didn't have a chance to get squished out during the birthing process (because they were born by cesarean). It looked like he'd finally had a semi-bath or hair washing because his hair didn't look quite so nappy and patchy as it had earlier. He was sleeping during the morning visit and we don't touch or bother them unless they're already awake. Sleep time is growth time for preemies and we weren't about to impede on the weight gaining! His feeds this morning were still at 3 mL every 6 hours given to him via his feeding tube that goes into his mouth and directly down to his stomach.

Next, we visited Forrest. He is still doing so well and is just cruisin' right along. His feeds have been 3 mL every 3 hours via feeding tube and tolerating them very well. He is on CPAP and is breathing room air (no extra oxygen). CPAP is the reason for the funny looking head gear that you see in the pictures. What it does is essentially force air into the lungs to keep the alveoli open and expanding. He also looked like he'd been washed up a bit. His hair still looks sandy blond and almost like it might have some curl to it.

Danna was next on our list of stops. That morning, she was not a happy camper, but her parents were excited to see her progress. They had been able to keep the breathing tube out and she was also on CPAP using only room air, just like her big brother! Because her bilirubin level was elevated (indicating jaundice - very common in newborns and especially in preemies) they started her on phototherapy. This is kind of like a mini tanning bed to simulate sun exposure. She even has little foam blinders they keep over her eyes to protect them. She needs as much skin exposed to the light as possible, so they can't swaddle her up. Now, Danna is used to having very little room and when she can't feel her boundaries, it startles her and I imagine she doesn't feel very secure. Her tiny little cry was heartbreaking. We tried to settle her down by doing containment (cupping her feet and arms against her body with our hands to help her feel more snuggled) and we gave her a pacifier. It worked for a while until Billy told her we were leaving to see her brother. She puckered up and started squeaking again. She has dimples in her chin when she gets pissed just like her mama and a cute nose just like her daddy. She's tiny and precious and has everyone wrapped around her itty-bitty finger. Her feeds have been 1 mL every 6 hours. I got to change her wet diaper for the first time. Still no poop, though - her digestive system just isn't quite ready to handle too much yet (although all the boys have had at least one good, healthy, Graf boy turd).

Little man Laine was our last stop of the morning. He is also doing the phototherapy like Danna and was just as cranky, too. We tried the containment method on him and he was able to kick off my hand and scoot too far up in his incubator. He was one pissed-off puppy and his nurse assured us that he will definitely NOT be the quiet kid in the corner (unless he's sneaking off to do something mischievous and hiding it from his parents). Laine is also still doing the CPAP on room air thing. His feeds this morning were 1 mL every 6 hours via feeding tube.

All the kiddos are receiving TPN (total parenteral nutrition) through their IVs. So, even though they may not be eating much, they're still getting the nutrition they need.

The morning visit was a little disheartening for me. I hated to see Laine and Danna so upset with no way to comfort them. I almost started crying along with them but then reminded myself that it could be so much worse. After all, we were blessed with 4 precious babies.

Later in the afternoon, our long-awaited visitors FINALLY arrived (albeit sooner than they or we had expected them to). Billy's parents, Mike and Vicki, Billy's grandmother, Bucko, and my parents, Roger and Marsha, arrived all the way from Kansas. They decided to caravan from Wichita to Albuquerque Tuesday night and stayed with my dad's sister, Aunt Connie. They left Wednesday morning for Phoenix and got to the hospital around 4:15 p.m. Thanks, Aunt Connie, for feeding and housing our parents and Bucko, for the fleece stockings you made for Billy and me and for the snugly fleece blanket and hat sets for the babies. We'll be putting those to good use when we bring the babies back home during the middle of the Kansas winter!

After getting to my hospital room, Billy showed Mike (Grampa Stubby), Vicki (Gramma Vicki), Bucko (G-G Bucko), mom (Budda) and dad (Papa) the video he took of the actual birth of the babies. Amateur videography as it was, Billy was definitely able to capture the moment and the emotions of everyone in the room. Sometimes I still can't believe how it all went down so quickly and I'm so grateful Billy even had time to go up to the room to grab the video camera before they started cuttin' me open.

The video just increased the grandparents anticipation of seeing their new grandkids! We trekked down to the nursery to introduce everyone. Billy took his parents and Bucko and started with Pius while I took my parents and started at the other end of the unit with Laine. The evening visit was so much more enjoyable than the morning one! The babies had even more great news to share with us when we arrived.

Starting with Laine....he was so much more content tonight. We got to the room just in time, as the nurse was about to open his incubator and rustle him up a bit. I got to change his cotton-swab of a diaper and we got to give his head and face a rest by taking him off the CPAP for a little while. He maintained his oxygen sats well and was just alert and wide-eyed as ever. It was like he knew company was coming and he'd better shape up to make a good first impression for his grandparents. His head has become a little mishaped from the head gear, but it'll go back to normal after he is able to go to a nasal cannula. They also were able to increase his feedings to every 3 hours instead of every 6.

We left Laine in Billy and Bucko's hands and moved on to little Danna. She was sleeping like an angel on her side. We couldn't see much of her because of all the head gear and eye protectors (and because there really isn't much of her to see as it is). Everyone was amazed at how tiny she really is. Pictures don't do her size justice. Next time, we may steal the Tubre idea of using Billy's wedding band as a bracelet for her. The docs decided to increase her feeds, as well, to every 3 hours.

Moving on to Forrest, there wasn't much change from the morning. He was being a good little boy and sleeping all cuddled up under his blanket. CPAP and feedings were the same. His nurse wasn't available at the time, so I didn't get a report card for the day on him.

Lastly, we got to Pius's room and had a very pleasant surprise waiting for us. He got extubated during the day and was also put on CPAP like the rest of his brothers and sister! He was still requiring a little bit of oxygen (36% - normal room air is 21%). He was sleeping when we got to his room, but must've heard his mama's voice and decided to wake up to say hello. His nurse opened his incubator for us and I got to change his little wet diaper, too! He's such a big boy and looks like a giant compared to his siblings. He's starting to get the big picture when it comes to breathing. I told him it's pretty important and he'd better just get used to it. They were also able to increase his feedings to 3 mL every 3 hours, just like Forrest. Pius needs to keep taking notes from him.

After the nursery, we all headed back up to my room and visited for awhile. Then they all left to go eat at Macayo's Mexican Restaurant so I could prop my sausage feet up and start pumping again. I try to do that every 2-3 hours. I really hope the milk starts coming in soon because it's kind of discouraging to put so much effort into something and only getting 5-10 mL of measurable evidence of the work I've done!

Anyway, sorry this post is so long. They won't all be this way, I guess I had a lot more to report than I thought. Plus, it's been so long since I've actually been able to type one that I may have gone a little overboard. Hopefully we'll be able to post better pictures later today or tomorrow (don't hold us to that, Erin! J/K). My mom took some on her camera and we'll try to download those later.

Have a safe flight on Turkey day Ryan, Brad and Lainie! Can't wait to see you guys! As for everyone else, hope you have a great Thanksgiving holiday and have as many things to be grateful for as Billy and I do. Keep the prayers a-comin'!

Love,
Billy, Moni, Pius, Forrest, Danna and Laine

Danna Lynn with her head gear and goggles under the bili-lights. Birth weight and length were 1 lb 10 oz and 12.25 inches.

Laine with his red forehead and swollen eyes after the headgear removal. He's looking towards his mama's voice and trying to figure out where he's heard Budda and Papa's voices before. Birth weight and length were 2 lbs 4 oz and 14.25 inches. Wait a second, I just realized that it looks like I'm grabbing his junk! Maybe that's why he's giving me a funny face. Sorry, Laine.

Pius with his newly acquired CPAP headgear. Birth weight and length were 3 lbs 14 oz and 17.25 inches.

Forrest in his headgear all snuggled up and being a good boy. Someone should tell him he's foaming at the mouth! Typical CPAP side effect. Birth weight and length were 3 lbs 9 oz and 14.5 inches.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Moni and Billy,
every morning we have to check your blog and take a look, if there are some more news.
We are very happy, that the babies are doing so good. They are so cute.
Have a nice time with Lainie and Ryan.
Lot´s of greetings to everybody,
Tina & Maik
(your Bavarian supporters)

Anonymous said...

The Babies are beautiful.

Enjoy the warm Arizona winter. It was about 37 degrees here yesterday.

Going in tomorrow morning around 4ish so Shannon can go to the crazy people shopping event.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families.

Kathy

Anonymous said...

great post Moni...you six are quite the celebs back here in kakeland...front page of the Eagle yesterday and on the 1330 am top of the hour newscast...I got a lump in my throat everytime I heard it...waiting anxiously for your return to home...Megan called dibs on baby sitting first...ha...love you all Uncle Bob

Bobbi said...

Congratulations on the birth of your babies. I pray that all continues to go well for them, and you.

Anonymous said...

Happy Turkey Day to you 6. What a difference than last year, huh. You'll be on our minds, in our hearts and prayers all day. Then after that, I don't know. ;-)

Love, Tom, Julie, Jolie, and Logan

Mary Odette said...

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you including my sweet brother and sister-inlaw Mike and Vicki! Have you stopped smiling yet? So very happy for all of you. Just wanted to tell you Moni not to worry about the milk coming in. You are so going to laugh about it when it does. Trust me! Happy happy joy joy! Love, Mary O

Anonymous said...

Have been following your blog from over here in the UK, congratulations to you all and great to see your babies are doing so well. Enjoy the rest 'mum & dad' as once they come home the fun really begins. Also Happy Thanksgiving (don't have that here).
Love Nichola (Tracy's sister), Bobby & Girls xxxx

Kelly said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your sweet family! Prayers continuing to head your way!

Courtney said...

Happy Thanksgiving, dear precious family! Monica- your mentioning sausages on your write-up made me hungry. Did you know there are vegetarian sausages? Mmmm. They taste like the real thing. Only faker. Same thing with the turkey.

Speaking of which, do you get a special turkey dinner for giving birth four times?

Give all the little ones a gentle touch from their cousins in Colorado!

With much love and thoughts of gratefulness, Courtney and Jason

EMO said...

Thank you Monica for the wonderful post. Don't apologize for the length, because I think I speak for most people, when I say we love the long ones. (eww that didn't sound right)And thanks for the pictures. I also agree that I don't think the pictures do justice to the size. I mean, yes they do look small, but I am sure they are much smaller than I can imagine. Have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving. Love David, Erin and Quinn

Anonymous said...

I have decided to stop being the voyeur every time I check and to post instead. If anything, these posts are nothing but testimony to the love and prayers that are lifting you and your family up. I read the posts and the one things that jumps out at me is exactly how immensely you are loved not only in Kansas, but around the States and around the World. I'm really going to miss your family at the Graf get together on Saturday - you add so much to the festivities.

LOVE to all -

Steph, Tegan, Eason & Addison

PS) Addie wanted to let you know that she is wearing big girl panties today . . . so I started to think about potty training four at once, not to mention THREE boys! Good times ;)

PS2) BISH-OP CAR-ROLL!! clap, clap, clap clap clap.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys! Thanks for the update! Moni, you never have to apologize for a long update. Cuz I hang on every word! I am so happy for all of you, there aren't words to express it! Keep taking care of yourself, your sausage feet and your sweet little sunshines! I can't wait for you all to get home so I can come see you all! You and Billy have done so amazingly well! Again, congrats and have a great Thanksgiving!

We miss you all!

Delane and Dan

P/S I will try to call this weekend...a lot to tell!

Andy Bulger said...

Moni, Billy, Forrest, Laine, Pius, and Lil' Danna:

Thanksgiving is just wrapping up for us over here in Germany, and, as we were thinking of everything that we are thankful for this year, you six were the first thing that popped into our minds.

We can't say enough how proud we are of you! It is absolutely amazing how beautiful the four little ones are. I, Andy, would like to mirror Ryno's thoughts: I sure hope they all take after Mommy's good looks (although Pius is sure welcome to have Daddy's prowess on the football field "All City '98")

We sure do miss you guys, and wish more than anything that we could be spending this wonderful time with you. Just know that the prayers are flying your way from overseas, and we are going to try to make it back as soon as we can!

Love,
Uncle Andy and Auntie Em

P.S. We just wanted to let you know that, if you need to move all of our junk from your basement to make room for the babies...don't. They're used to living in a confined space...and we don't want those kids to be spoiled, do we?

Anonymous said...

I am so happy for you all.
I will continue to pray for
you and keep tabs on your
site.Happy Thanksgiving
and God bless you.
Love,
Eric

Anonymous said...

Hi Billy and Moni. I just wanted to wish you a happy thanksgiving to you and your new additions to the family. Enjoy it and pass on my wishes to Bucko, Stubby, Vicki, Ryno, Lainie and Brad.

Love,
A.J.

Karen said...

I'm so happy and excited with all the news of the Graf quads! Besides your legs feeling like they are made of pork and beef, how are you feeling otherwise? How's your c-section incision, your BP, and are you able to sleep a little? I'd love to talk to you...but I'll give you a few more days before I hound you with a hundred more questions! We'll continue to pray for you, Billy, and your family; and hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving today!
Love, Karen & Cory

Anonymous said...

Happy, happy, happy Thanksgiving! Monica, we love every word of your maternal and medical observations...and the pictures are priceless. How sweet of you to shed tears with your sweetie pies. By the way, have Billy Joe brace himself for your hormonal storms. In your case they'll probably be tsunamis. It's delightful to hear that your princess is already wearing a gold bracelet (Billy's wedding band) and laying in a tanning bed. Be prepared for a high maintenance teeny-bopper. By the way, I got out a ruler and a 1 lb. 2.6 oz can of Campbell's soup. I know they're curled up and their weight is spred out and they're hugely cuter but, nonetheless, it felt soooo right. I look forward to holding your little darlings. With lots of love and thanksgiving, Aunt GGr and Sam

Anonymous said...

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving! You have soooo much to be thankful for! You have a beautiful family! my thoughts and prayers are with you...........

Linda

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving to the six of you!! I am happy to here that the babies are doing well. I was also happy to hear that your mom (Marsha),Dad and the Grafs made it to Phoinex safely. I pray daily for the new baby eagles!

God Bless,
Janet

Tubre Quads said...

Hi Guys! The babies are adorable and those pictures are great, but don't do them justice! I'm so glad Pius is on CPAP now - way to geaux buddy!

Oh Moni-about the milk. I too was discouraged with my lack of output at first...give it time. I had all four babies freezers full at the NICU and filled up the freezer at the apartment within a month. Good thing cause I can’t keep up with them now (they are digging into my frozen stash) and I pump about 50 oz a day! And you are, well, how do I say this, more blessed (that sounds good) in that department than I am. You will be pumping out 8 oz bottles at a time in no time!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. See you soon.

Jac

Anonymous said...

Hi Billy and Monica!

We wanted to tell you congrats on the babies!! They look so beautiful! We love reading all the updates! Our prayers are with you and the babies!

Love,

Curtis and Megan Lubbers

Anonymous said...

I am so very Happy for all of you. I wrote down your blog address last week and finally got on yesterday----what fun--for me, anyway as I am just reading. I know that day to day it was not always so fun for the two of you. But, what a great job you have done. We had fun at my parents yesterday going over all the connections, looking at your pictures, etc. My parents live in Conway Springs, know Cy and Connie, Dave and my brother were friends in high school. My mom worked at the bank in Conway and knew Pius from there. I work in the ER with Moni and years ago worked for the pediatrician Billy went to (probably have seen you naked--ha!). Even attended a Dallas game with Mike and Vicki long ago. Please take care, know that you are in my thoughts and prayers and please put me on the list to babysit sometime. Also, please tell Mike and Vicki I said hello!! CONGRATULATIONS to all of you! Tamra

Anonymous said...

God Bless all of you. Glad to hear everything is going well.
Give our love to all the family who are there visiting.
Keep up the good work and we love checking in on you daily.
Aunt Shirley

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the updates an more pictures. They are tiny little ones. So happy that all of you are there together for a while. Enjoy. Tell Elaine/Bucko not to be playing too much golf just because she can. It's darn cold here and I can't get out in this. Love you all. Aunt Bertie

Anonymous said...

Amazing! Amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing!!! That's six amazings, one for each of you in your little Graf family! I am so happy for all of you, and obviously, amazed at how strong and you all are. I love you, and can't wait to meet the little boogers! Give them each a kiss for me. Gabe thinks the pictures are great. I showed him and when we navigated away from the pictures, he started whining and saying "baby" because he just wants to sit and look at them. And who wouldn't want to just sit and look at your four little beautiful miracles? We love you!

Rhonda and Gabe Kampling

stephanie457 said...

Monica, don't get discouraged when it comes to pumping! It hasn't been very long, and just wait, your milk is going to come in with a vingence, and you are going to pump even more often than you are! Lol. I'll be praying for you guys, I can't wait to hear more about your little (if it can be called that) family!!
Stephanie Young White

Anonymous said...

Moni,

A side effect of Tibuterlene (sp) is that your milk will be slower to come in. But when it does . . . whoa will it! (Think Jersey cow!)

Kris from Kansas

Anonymous said...

Moni,

One side effect of anti-contraction medication is that your milk is slower to come in. Be patient because when it comes in, whoa baby! (Think Jersey cow!)

They are beautiful and doing great.

Still praying,
Kris from Kansas

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving! I am so happy the babies are all doing well.

Monica, I have to admit I am a little jealous that you have been relieved of the baby pressure in the belly. It did make me feel a little less jealous to hear about the feet so, although I am sorry for your feet issues, I do appreciate you sharing the information. :)

It's lots of fun to see pictures. My kids like them as well. Keep them coming.

Janeen

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for getting rid of the match the letters thing for anonymous posts. I always had problems with it, too. I swear I was right every time, but the computer obviously disagreed. It is easier without it.

Janeen

Anonymous said...

Monica and Billy,
What beautiful precious little tikes you have! I've been subconsciously worried sick with my nursing backround in newborns/preemies, but consciously praying for you guys. We will continue to pray for Pius, Forrest, Laine & Danna. They appear to be doing wonderful. I'll contiue to keep up, and I can't wait for them to come back to KS so I can get my hands on them like all the rest of the family. Love & prayers, Sarah (Haag) Fager

Anonymous said...

happy holidays. all our prayers, love stan and theresa smeltzer, stacy cummings and lets not forget dwayner.

Anonymous said...

hi billy