Saturday, September 26, 2009

Service information

Here is the information for the memorial service for the boys for anyone who is interested:
October 3rd at 2pm
At Mt Olivet Baptist Church in Franklinton, NC

Here is the church's address:
1245 Mount Olivet Church Rd
Franklinton, NC 27525

We will be having a public service that will tell Ethan and Jacob's story, followed by a private burial.
In lieu of flowers, we have set up an account at Wachovia for donations to Ethan and Jacob's Memorial Fund. Checks can be made payable to Joseph or Andrea Zimmermann. We will use this money to benefit the NICU at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. The NICU at NNMC was amazing, and we really want something positive to come from our loss.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It has been a week

It has been a week since I went into labor. I find that so amazing. It seems like just yesterday I was pregnant in the bed thinking about how close we were getting to the "safe" zone. We just missed it by a couple of weeks. What a difference a couple of weeks would have made.

I am feeling better physically. I was released from the hospital on Monday night after Ethan passed away, but we stayed at Bethesda in base lodging. We had a ton of paperwork to do on Tuesday, so we just stayed up there. Our parents were waiting when we finally arrived home on Tuesday afternoon. Coming home was not what I thought it would be. The entire time we were at Bethesda after the boys passed away, I wanted nothing more than to be at home. After arriving home and finding all of the stuff we had waiting for Ethan and Jacob, I realized how foolish I was to think it would be easier at home. We put all their stuff in the spare room, but we still occasionally find something and have a good cry.

Our parents left about an hour after we arrived home, and I was feeling really weak. I called Bethesda L&D and they advised me to go to the nearest ER. Off to Stafford hospital we go. The ER visit was not a pleasant one, as EVERY doctor and nurse wanted to know where my baby was that I had delivered on Sunday. After telling our story quite a few times, the staff got it together. I was admitted for hemorrhaging and a possible uterine infection. I got IV antibiotics for 24 hours straight and they monitored my blood levels. They continued to drop, and the doctor was concerned for awhile. I finally was released at 5pm on Wednesday. I was weak and dizzy, but so glad to finally sleep in my own bed. Since then I have started to feel better physically. I am not as sore anymore, and can move around better.

Emotionally, Joseph and I are struggling. We are in a difficult roller coaster of emotions right now. I am having a hard time dealing with why this happened to us. I don't think that I will ever fully understand why God decided to take our boys. I will never understand why things happened the way they did, or why life is so unfair at times. It is amazing how much love and attachment we have for two little guys we had never met before. When people say parents love their children from day one, they are completely correct. Right now I am just trying to remember to breathe. Time will ease the pain, but we will always miss our little fighters.

We are currently planning a memorial service in North Carolina for Ethan and Jacob. We will have it at our home church in early October. We want people to know their story, and how awesome they were. We are hoping this will help with our healing. Hopefully, one day we will be able to see the sun peaking through all the clouds.

We appreciate everyone giving us our space for this week. We have such incredible friends, but we really needed time to gather our thoughts. Everything happened so fast, we really needed time to let reality sink in. Thank you to everyone for being so wonderful. I have been amazed at how many people have shown support and love while respecting our wishes of space.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Well, we have news. On Sunday at 12 am I received my first round of steroids and antibiotics. Because the antibiotics were IV, the nurse started them at 12am and had to come in and change them an hour later... then disconnect at 2am. I fell asleep around 1am while the second set of antibiotics were running in. Around three I woke up with a very upset stomach. The doctor decided to check me and found that I was dilated to 4. They quickly pushed me over to the L&D side of the floor and started monitoring my contractions. At 5am the doctor started giving me magnesium to try to slow down my contractions, as they were coming about 1 minute apart. The goal was to deliver Jacob and keep Ethan in. I repeatedly screamed for an epidural, but the anesthesiologist was busy with another patient. They finally realized I was fully dilated around 7am and moved me into the OR for delivery. I still did not have the epidural. Joseph had to get changed and was told that after they got my epidural in, they would come get him. Unfortunately, Jacob was born before the epidural was put in. They attempted to stop Ethan, but he was already in the birth canal. The boys were born at 733 and 737am. Ethan weighed 12oz and Jacob weighed 1lb 2 oz. Joseph was waiting in the hall when they were born.

They had two teams of neonatologists in the OR. Jacob's lungs were just not developed enough. He had major problems breathing (which we expected from his lack of fluid). His apgar score was a one at one minute. He passed away before his brother was even born.

Ethan's lungs were better, and his 5 minute apgar was a 7. They quickly took him back to the NICU. Joseph and I didn't even get to see him before they took him. He was so small, they were very concerned with his weight. His lungs were good though, and he only required room air on the vent. He had a lot of problems maintaining his blood pressure and was given drugs to help keep it up. Sunday night he received a blood transfusion and was doing much better with his BP. We visited him throughout Sunday and Monday. Everything was very stable. While we were visiting Monday afternoon, the neonatologist said that he had an air pocket in his chest. It was not affecting anything, so they decided to leave it alone. With his size, he would not have survived removing it. Around 6pm Monday night, Ethan's vitals were dropping very quickly. They quickly got him back on track and did another X-ray to see if the air pocket had moved. The doctor quickly brought us into the office and explained it was behind Ethan's heart, and they were unable to access it. Ethan passed away shortly after with his family all there with him.

We are finally home. I requested to be discharged after we said goodbye to Ethan. Joseph and I stayed in base lodging last night then returned to the hospital this morning to finish paperwork. We are both exhausted from not sleeping. We are dealing with our emotions right now. We appreciate any thoughts and prayers, but are asking for some quiet time. We have had a lot of support, and appreciate it... but really want to deal with our emotions for the next weeks. We appreciate any emails, but our phones have been retired for a week or so. Thank you all for your thoughts and support through this difficult time. The world lost two of the hardest fighters ever Sunday and last night.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

22 weeks 3 days

We had another ultrasound today. Things went pretty well. The doctors wanted to know what our plans were if the babies are born next week. At 23 weeks, the survival rate is around 20%... so not the greatest. 23 weeks marks the point that the doctors can try to help the babies, but it is not automatic. Once we get to 24 weeks (50% survival rate)we are given no choice, and the doctors will do everything they can to help. The doctors wanted to know if something happens, what we wanted them to do. We decided we wanted them to try for the boys. They have been through so much, we have to give them the chance to make it. We also were worried about the "what ifs" and guilt. After making our decision, my doctor decided I will get steroid injections and start antibiotics on Sunday. The antibiotics should get me past 24 weeks without an infection, and the steroids will help mature the boy's lungs. I will get another round of steroids in a few weeks. We are still waiting and hoping. The longer that I can stay pregnant the better chance both boys have. It will feel good to know that they have a chance at survival. The past 2 1/2 weeks, we knew if they were born the doctors could not do anything. Keep the prayers going up! The doctor said he is amazed I am still pregnant. He thought I would have delivered after 7 days. So the prayers are working. We need another month to get these boys a good chance of being OK, and things can change within hours.

The ultrasound went well. Jacob (baby A) still has no fluid. He is laying across my cervix in a ball. The perinatologist said that his position is probably why I have not gone into labor yet. We could not see a lot, just his head and heartbeat. His head is still oval, but we expect it to stay like that until his is born.
Ethan (baby B) was sleeping for today's ultrasound. Usually he likes to jump around and give us a show, but the ultrasound was during his nap time. He is still all boy (they check every ultrasound). The doctor said he had a great amount of fluid, probably from all of the water I have been drinking. They were looking for the portion of the sac that was separating. Last week they were very concerned with it, and thought Ethan's sac may rupture as well. This week, the doctor looked for it and could not find it. He called in another peri, and both of them decided that it had fused back to a normal position. That was great news!
He "weighed" both boys, and they weigh a little less than a pound each. He said the ultrasound machine is not super accurate with weights, but it gives us an idea. The peri said that those weights are perfect for their age. They only weigh them every 3 weeks, so we wont know for a few weeks what their new weights are. Ethan was breech last week, and has turned head down. He is still small enough to move around, so it will change again. Overall Ethan is looking great, and we have no idea how Jacob is doing. They were rushed today, and we didn't get any cute face pictures this week.

So, everyone keep on praying. We want to stay here as long as possible for our little guys. The doctors are still concerned about infection and labor, those are the major risks right now.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

week 2... done

Well, I have been here two weeks now. We are halfway to our short goal of 24 weeks. At 24 weeks the babies have a chance. Things can change quickly, so we are not getting too excited yet... but it does feel good to have made it this far. I would love to make it to our big goal of 34 weeks, but one day at a time.
So far everything has been good. I had a slight freak out moment on wed night. I thought that Ethan's water had broken too. I don't know exactly why I thought this... I didn't have any gush of fluid. I also never had a gush of fluid with Jacob's water breaking, so I feel very nervous that I wont know. The doctors were great and got an ultrasound in my room asap. Ethan had plenty of fluid, and I felt like an idiot. The peri was very nice and said it was better to check if I would be more relaxed. Everything looked good, and Ethan was moving around as normal. He is a very active little guy.
We still can't really see Jacob on the ultrasounds. We can see his head and heartbeat, but everything else looks like snow. The amnio results have still not come back. We are really not too worried about it, as it wont change anything at this point. If he does have something wrong with him, Joe and I would never terminate.
As for us... we are hanging on. The food here is horrible. Some of the things they bring me, I am amazed it is considered food. So we have been doing a lot of takeout and subway. Joseph is super excited for football season to be back in swing. It helps pass the time. I am amazed to say that these past 2 weeks have actually gone pretty quickly. We have great friends who have visited and helped pass the time. We are so thankful for all the wonderful people we have in our lives. Thanks to everyone.
2 weeks down... 12 to go.

Here are some pictures of Ethan from our ultrasound. We don't have any of Jacob because we can't see him on the ultrasound.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

21 weeks 2 days

Well, we had our weekly ultrasound this morning. We got a mixture of news from the perinatologist.
Jacob (baby a) has almost no fluid still. His head is starting to misshape due to the lack of fluid around him. He also is not moving his extremities, which means he will have very tight muscles at birth. The doctor said both of these issues are purely cosmetic and can be corrected. The main issue is still his lungs. The perinatologist gave him a 1-2% chance of survival after birth. He said that his lungs are just not going to be mature enough. With no fluid around him, he will not be able to practice breathing. The perinatologist said they are going to try to keep him in as long as possible. The longer I am pregnant with him, the better his chances are... but they are still extremely small. We are trying to focus on keeping him in as long as possible, to give him the best chance he can have. We are still waiting on the amnio results that they took last monday. The doctor said it can take up to 14 days.
Ethan (baby B) was his usual full of himself. He was sucking his thumb through most of it... then when the doctor turned the ultrasound to 3D, he quickly moved his hand directly over his face. We got a little peak, but he was too busy hiding to get a nice picture. His fluid measured well. All his body parts measured normally. He was moving around like a wild man. They confirmed again he is all boy. They are concerned about his sac now. It seems that the sac is starting to come away from the uterus. This could cause his sac to rupture as well. The perinatologist said the chances of that happening are under 50%. They are going to watch it at our ultrasounds to be sure it isn't changing. Each day it does not rupture is better, and the doctor said it might not rupture at all... but they are going to keep an eye on it to make sure it isn't getting worse.
Joe and I are still trying to be positive. We have been here for a week and a half... and it really has gone by faster than I thought it would. We have our little routine and are doing our best to make the most out of our situation. Please keep both of the boys in your prayers, we have a long way to go before we are out of the woods.