Last Sunday, August 1, Doug wrote the following in an email to his team at Nordstrom. For those of you who are regular readers of this blog, this will mostly repeat what you’ve read in earlier posts, for which I apologize. I’m posting it anyway because it’s so well-written (yet another reason my husband rocks), and I’m a fan of good writing, wherever I find it, even in corporate emails. Also, I’m too tired to come up with original content right now…
I want to thank you so much for your thoughts, prayers, and food for my family since our twins were born. It has all been incredibly helpful. Just tonight we ate the lasagne, and the ribs have been sustaining us for a few days now. We are looking forward to the other meals we have in the freezer.
Luke and Bennet (Ben) were born last Friday, July 23, at 7:54 and 8:01 AM respectively. Luke is doing pretty well at Group Health with only a few minor issues which are normal for babies born at 35 1/2 weeks, like sleep apnea, where he forgets to breathe. =) The doctors have prescribed caffeine added to his milk (baby lattes) and he is doing well.
Ben had to be transported via ambulance to Children’s Hospital because of fairly serious lung issues last Saturday morning. The neonatalogist at Group Health literally saved his life at least once before the Childrens’ ambulance arrived. Satuday night, July 24th, the doctors at Children’s were recommending we put him on the Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxidation (ECMO) machine as his last option for survival. Basically it’s a lung bypass machine which pumps all his blood out of his body, removes CO2, re-oxygenates it, and pumps it back into him. After the doctor had explained all the potential complications, he went back to his office to get the consent form. The ECMO machine was primed with donated blood, and at Ben’s bedside. Fifteen minutes later, the doctor came back with no consent form because Ben had made some very small steps toward recovery. We went home that night relieved at our son’s small but critical steps of healing.
The next day (Sunday) Ben was holding steady an oscillating ventilator and had 4 tubes inserted through his chest wall to absorb excess air outside his lungs. Sedated, he looked lifeless with just the ventilator moving his chest up and down rapidly.
Starting last Monday, we have gone to rounds every day at 8:30 AM. The whole care team at Children’s (doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, etc) discusses each baby’s stats, reviews his medicines and ventilator settings, and develops goals for the day. As parents, we were invited to listen in on Ben’s status and ask questions. Over the last week we have gotten a crash course in neonatalogy and breathing. After rounds, we usually visit Ben for a bit, then head over to Group Health to see Luke and feed him, then back to Children’s where we meet Kimberlee’s mom with our two older kids, Jack and Jane, to see Ben. Then we either head back to Group Health or head home. We usually get home around dinner time, which makes for a full day.
We are tired but so grateful that Ben has made very rapid progress in the last eight days. Since narrowly avoiding the ECMO machine (or scary lung machine as my wife calls it), Ben has gone from an oscillating ventilator with 100% oxygen to today breathing normal room air on his own. The doctors are very surprised at his incredible progress and we are incredibly grateful. He should be moved back to Group Health by Tuesday, August 3rd to be with his twin brother Luke.
Since they were born at 35 1/2 weeks, the boys will need 2-3 more weeks at Group Health in the Special Care Nursery to develop and stabilize before they are ready to come home, but my wife is starting to breastfeed Luke now and will get Ben in the rotation when he gets a bit better. [Note from Kimberlee: Luke came home on Monday, August 9, and Ben came home yesterday – nearly two weeks sooner than we expected.]
I just wanted to say thank you again for your amazing support during the last couple of weeks. I’ve sung Nordstrom’s praises as an employer to many doctors and nurses, and part of the reason our boys are doing so well is that we’ve been able to really focus on visiting them, holding them, and being with them during this difficult time. Thank you for making that possible.