Friday, February 29, 2008

on twins

Ever since I found out (only, wow, four months ago) that I was having twins, I've been researching them. I've found out lots of fun facts. One of the most interesting to ME is that only about a third of twins are identical, and of those, only about 1% are monoamniotic like my girls. But I've also learned that all IVF doesn't cause identical twins (though someone on IVF can, by the luck of the draw, have them), that some people don't know at birth whether their twins are identical or fraternal because identical twins, if they split early enough, can each have their own placenta. And that, yes, if you tell someone you have identical twins, they just MIGHT ask, "a boy and a girl, then?" :)

But the really fun thing has been learning about my OWN twins, now that they're here and I can get to know them. I've found "tell" (other than the fact that Anna is currently about half a pound bigger than her sister); it's something that will disappear eventually, but it will do to help me figure out which is which while I'm getting to know them this first year.

And I've found that they have some slight mirroring: their cowlicks turn different directions, one clockwise and one counterclockwise.

And they are tiny and beautiful and mine. Anna loves cuddled and Lucy loves having her hand held. And they love being sung to. I've gone through lots of hymns, visiting them in the NICU.

And then I come home and miss them, but have many happy hours watching Bess and Gamgee gambol about the house, jumping off things, playing with blocks and shouting out the back door, "It's okay, Wise Men, it's just the Baby Jesus!" (Our Advent playacting has continued through Lent; in my toddlers' current world, the wise men are camped out in our backyard.) I've read that twin relationships are very similar to the relationship between any other two siblings very close in age. I hope so. Because if my older two are any good example, we're going to have a happy household packful of little ones.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

There are good days in the NICU

I hate to say it, because it feels like a jinx, but, as my priest might say, "being good Christians, we don't believe in that", so . . . I think my girls might have turned the corner. As of last night, they're getting one bottle-feed a shift, and FINISHING IT ALL. They're gaining weight. And yesterday, I got to try to nurse little Anna, and SHE NURSED. (This was not what the nurse who let me do it was expecting. She was expecting it to be "non-nutritive breastfeeding", i.e. "let's-just-let-her-get-acquainted-with-the-idea". But Anna latched, and sucked and ATE. It was so cool.)

Please keep praying for our baby girls, because they're so not there yet. But God is being very gracious, and they are getting there. I'm beginning to be more hopeful about them really coming home someday.

It's so funny to think that they'll be three weeks old tomorrow, but, really, they shouldn't even be on the outside of me yet. They shouldn't have even been born yet, but here they are, eating and breathing and pooping and being as cute as ever two little girls were. So weird.

Thank God for medical technology. I mean that with all of my heart. Isn't it cool that He lets us learn how to do things like keeping very little babies alive? And, if you come to think of it, correct poor vision with curved glass or cure diseases with what is basically orange mold? I really think that science, properly done, is so very Christian. It says that since the most excellent of designers made the universe, that universe will have an order that we can discover and study and understand. As it says in Proverbs, "It is the glory of God to hide a thing, and the glory of kings to seek it out." My mother calls that "the scientists' verse". :)

Well, medical technology is something I'm grateful for today. But I'm even more grateful to the God who is slowly teaching my daughters how to breathe and suck and swallow in a coordinated manner. Who is shielding them from harm. Who is being with them in the NICU when I can't. Praise Him!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, February 25, 2008

if you've ever kept a journal

I'm a journaler; I have been, regularly, since eighth grade. But there are always those times, every year or two, when for some reason or another I stop journaling for a month or so. When I come back, I feel a burden to spend pages catching the record up. Yet it's an impossible task, so instead of taking twenty pages to summarize what I missed recording, I just apologize (yes, I apologize to my journal; I know, I'm weird) and start up again by talking about that current day.

Here on this blog, at least, I can apologize to the people who read it: I'm sorry, I've been remiss. In my defense, pumping milk around the clock, taking care of two toddlers and visiting the NICU every day takes a lot more time that I would have guessed. We are all well here, and the twins are well at the hospital. At this point, they are very healthy (thanks be to God!), and once they learn to eat on their own (i.e., once they don't have to be tube-fed), and hopefully gain a bit more weight (they're still well under 5 lbs.) they will get to come home. (Please pray that they learn to eat!)

It feels appropriate, somehow, that it is Lent as I write this. I admit, I'm not officially fasting from anything, having decided that the postpartum experience of being without sex, sleep or a pain-free body was probably enough to be going on with this year. Add to that the overwhelming sadness of being without my daughters, and I think you have a Lent that's Lenten enough for anyone. Sometimes, I think, God chooses the fast He wants to you practice, and then it's best to just go with what He's set before you.

It helps, somehow, that it is Lent, because approaching the task set before me like it is a real fast; approaching it as something seasonal, appropriate and (above all), finite makes it easier to face. All experiences earthly come to an end, and Easter is always, always, always waiting at the end of Lent, as our Lord awaits at the end of every Christian life.

Also appropriately, my baby girls' original due date is almost exactly Easter day. Since preemies are usually home by their due date, I am looking forward to the Queen of Feasts with even more longing than usual. (Not that I have a guarentee, just a reasonable hope.) AND, my oldest daughter is scheduled to be baptized this Easter at the Easter vigil service (Saturday night). It doesn't feel like I'll ever get there, like I'll ever have the joy of all six of us together in a pew at church, but by God's grace, it will happen, we will get there, my baby girls will come home. It is Lent, but there is Easter at the end of Lent, and I will keep walking towards it, one day at a time, because there is no other way to get there. Lord have mercy.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, February 14, 2008

home again

I find that I've been making a list in my head of firsts since I've been home: first cup of real coffee, first shower in my own shower (without sandals on my feet!), first night sleeping next to my husband again, first bedtime prayers with my kids, first time running a load of laundry, first time calling my friend whose number was outside the area codes allowed by the hospital phone, first time watering the azalea on my porch.

We were too blitzed to plan anything for Valentine's Day this year; Adam and I didn't even remember to say "Happy Valentine's!" to each other until the morning was half over. But you know what? I'll take all of these firsts for Valentine's this year and be very, very happy indeed.

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

praise Jesus!

Our littlest twin's heart problem is resolved! The medication worked and she won't meed open chest surgery after all. I can't even tell you what a good day this is.

They're still little, so we are still praying hard for them, but things are going so much better than they were a few days ago. I'm so grateful.

Thanks be to God!

Monday, February 11, 2008

they're here!

And I'm home, after 42 days in the hospital. Home has never felt so homey.

Our new baby girls are in the NICU; they were born at a bit over four pounds each, but are now less than that, because of normal newborn weight loss. They're doing okay, but not great. Both of them are having respiratory distress and are jaundiced, and our littlest twin has what's called a PDA, a vein between her heart and her lungs that's open when it should be closed, and that's making everything harder for her. She's on medication now to try to close it, but if that doesn't work, she'll have to have surgery. And she can't eat or get off the CPAP (a kind of breathing mask) till her PDA heals.

Please pray that our littlest one's PDA closes, and that both of our girls' lungs start working as they should. But thank God that they're here and alive and are getting good care!

I'll write more as I get a little less achy. :) Surgery went well, but boy does it wipe you out!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

tomorrow, tomorrow!

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we're going to meet our littlest children! Though I'm looking forward neither the the surgery nor the NICU stay for our twins, I'm sure looking forward to meeting our little girls, and to going home in a few days. And to being one large step closer to having all six of us home safe and sound.

It's a weird Ash Wednesday for me. It feels more like the end of Lent than the beginning; though the next few weeks might be very Lentish indeed.

Please pray for us, that the surgery would go well, that our two older kids would do well while they're still waiting for me to come home, and especially that our twin girls would do very well, and make it here without harm. That they would be healthy and whole. Able to breathe and eat okay, even.

Thank you for all of your kind messages and thank you for your prayers. I won't be home till Sunday or Monday, and I hope to update then.

Have a good Lent!

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, February 3, 2008


I have to say, I think that was probably the Superbowl I've ever seen. And not just because my husband was sitting next to me in my hospital bed for most of it - though that sure helped! (And thanks to my mother-in-law for watching the kids during their naps and after so that he could be here.) But you've got to love a game that close, you've got to love a game where the underdog pulls out a victory, and you've got to love a game with that many sacks.

And no, this has nothing to do with the church year. I'm just saying. :)