This is Erica, Ann-Marie's sister. I thought I would do a little update, since Ann-Marie and Anthony have been too busy or too tired to post. But we want to keep everyone informed of progress and what is going on. First of all, we appreciate so much everyone's prayers. We know it is because of your prayers and faith that so many miracles have occurred in the lives of Annie, Gracie, Ruthie, Ann-Marie, Anthony, Ellis, and others.
Ann-Marie was discharged from the hospital last night. She is doing very, very well. She walks around and has been able to spend more and more time up on her feet. I am absolutely impressed. So far she has been able to provide enough breast milk for all three girls. What a wonderful blessing! We pray that the milk supply continues to increase as the babies grow. This is a big sacrifice--but worth it--as she has to pump every 2-3 hours, night and day. So between going up to the NICU as often as they can and pumping, we can see how exhausting each day already is.
Ann-Marie and Anthony have been going up to the NICU for every (or at least almost every) feeding (even in the middle of the night). The nurses try to keep the girls on a schedule, because we want the babies to have as much deep, uninterrupted sleep as possible since that is when they grow. They feed them every three hours, starting at 7:00 am (7:00, 10:00, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00, etc). During the feedings they get diaper changes, mouths swabbed out if needed, and are able to be touched. They get baths once a day, I believe in the evening feeding. To give the babies a bath, they use one cotton ball per body part (so they go through lots of cotton balls) and use water only. If it is not a feeding time and if they baby is asleep, no one should touch the baby.
Because the babies' nervous systems are still immature, we are careful how we touch the babies. No rubbing, but rather firm presses. It helps them feel secure. Their ears also haven't completely matured, so they don't filter out the noise like we do. They hear everything in the room the same (like for us, we can filter out background noise). So we try not to talk too loud and are sensitive to that. Their eyelids are also very thin, so they have a little cover for their eyes and also the nurses often cover their beds with a blanket or two when they're sleeping to keep the light out.
One thing I have learned is that these babies may be identical in their genetic makeup, but they are anything but identical. They are each so unique, and their personalities are already coming through. Amazing to see! I realized yesterday that I will never again compare them to each other. They are as unique and individual as Ann-Marie and I are, but they just happened to be born one minute apart from each other. They are fighters! Each has her own challenges right now. It is hard to watch their little bodies working so hard to grow and develop. But they're doing it! And we are so proud of them. Their bodies may be tiny, but their spirits are giants. We pray for them, each of them, and for Ann-Marie and Anthony and Ellis. They still need our prayers. We have seen miracles with these babies and with Ann-Marie. They are thriving. And we attribute it to the many prayers and faith of each of you. Thank you! We are grateful for the fantastic medical care they are receiving from very competent and well-qualified and prepared professionals. We will try to keep you updated (with pictures too) as often as we can, hopefully at least daily. On behalf of the Botts, we say thank you and we love you!