Off to School

Today we celebrate the Vanderwall Quintuplets first day of school. We had no worries about being late since all five have been giddy with excitement since they first received their 4k notice in the mail; all were up and had dressed themselves by 6:30 am. In all honesty, we did experience a few wardrobe snafus and fashion faux pas but all easily resolved.. They gobbled down their oats and were eager for their photo shoot.

At School

About 1,000 pictures later, we hopped in the van and headed to school. So many memories were captured within those 5 minutes while we dropped them off…

  • Kali, Ellie and Bella bee-lined it to their cubbies. Took off their back-packs, hung their coats and took their take-home folders to their teachers. Theo wished each sister farewell and Lily grabbed all three for a family hug.
  • In Theo and Lily’s classroom, Theo was amazed at all of the boys and Lily kept saying how much fun today was going to be.
  • We almost made it out tear-free but, on our way out Ellie caught a glimpse of Daddy and needed one more hug.

Looking back

On the way home, they were eager to learn what the others’ experienced. While they maintained the same daily schedule, the individual activities were different. Bella, Ellie and Kali decorated hats and Theo and Lily took a class picture. Bella was proud to share that she made a new friend who helped her put her coat on. Everyone’s favorite part of the morning was playing at recess. All are looking for another day tomorrow.

We are experiencing nothing but pure joy in the Vanderwall household today. We are so proud of our little miracles!

 

 

 

 

 

Bye Bye

Lined up

Lets go

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Isabella Marie

Big sister, Isabella Marie, is the oldest girl but one of the smallest at birth. She is our “I don’t do drama” queen. This blonde Bella has very keen senses of hearing and sight. When the others’ start sounding their alarms, or she has had enough photos for one day the little hands go up and shield her little eyes and ears. Bella also takes the cake (literally) as our best eater and grower. She is tolerating 6 times as much milk as her siblings.  “Beautiful Marie” gets her looks from her Daddy with her light hair, long face and tendency to crinkle her forehead. We are excited to introduce you to our little Bella Bean.

If you click on an image, it will give you a full-screen slideshow of all the pictures.

Not pictured above:

  • When Daddy gets the camera too close or her neighboring brother causes a racket, little Bella flashes her hands Vogue-style until peace resounds. Her little spirit finger-spread has caught on in this NICU pod as her signature move.
  • Our big sis also knows how to grab your attention. She’ll hold her breath just long enough to get mom or dad to pay her a visit and then rebounds back to healthy limits.

We are so thankful that Bella has been the most well of the bunch, evading spontaneous ruptures and breathing issues.  Prayer requests for Isabella include her continued tolerance of her feedings, as well as, sustained growth and development.

Keep coming back to meet Lily, Kali and Ellie, too!

Zero to Quints

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I believe further explanation of how we went from “status quo” to “the babies will be delivered within the next 45 minutes” is warranted.  I was settling in for a day’s work on the morning of July 31st, when I felt like I wet my pants. Now to be honest, I just assumed little Theo was going to be controlling my bladder for the day. But, upon further investigation, I realized he had popped his little sac and I had “broken my water.” I called my doctor’s office, but since they were closed it directed my call to the physician on-call, which just so happened to be Dr. Elliott’s “bat phone.” I felt awful for bothering him on vacation, but he didn’t mind one bit. He encouraged me to pack a bag and head to Ob triage (the moms’ ER).

We arrived at the hospital and were quickly shuffled in for an assessment. They tested the fluid and confirmed that indeed it was amniotic fluid. Then, they discontinued my nifedipine (calcium-channel blocker), gave me a steroid shot (Betamethasone) to enhance fetal lung development, and started me on 3g of Magnesium sulfate. I was then whisked away to ultrasound to confirm the culprit. It was indeed little Theo (baby A) whose deepest vertical pocket went from around 5cm to about 1.6 cm, which indicated that he only had about 1.6 cm of fluid surrounding his little body in his sac. His head was now so low in my pelvis he appeared as though his little body stopped at his neck.

The nurses assured me that once my contractions stopped, it was entirely possible I could remain pregnant for several weeks. This amazed me but they said it happens all of the time. Unfortunately, this scenario is only true if 1) your contractions do stop, 2) you tolerate the medicinal anti-contraction regimen and 3) you do not develop an infection. My contractions did stop, thanks to the “mag.” But, it was clear after 24h on the magnesium sulfate that I was not tolerating it, and my lungs began to fill with fluid.

Magnesium sulfate is used for contraction management. It is thought to affect calcium channels to slow uterine contractions. Typical side-effects include water retention, muscle weakness, sweating/flushing, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and blurry vision. For most, these symptoms are tolerable and some mom’s of multiples can again remain on magnesium sulfate for several weeks, in order to prolong their gestation. Unfortunately, I hit the jackpot and experienced all of the symptoms noted above.

My body was only able to combat these side effects for about 3 days. I was placed on b-pap to increase my oxygen saturation and Lasix to try and rid my body and lungs of the extra fluid.  On the morning of August 3, I was moved back to labor and delivery due to my pending diagnosis of pneumonia. When I spiked a fever and my white blood cell count shot up, we knew today was the day. It was then that we got the news that we would get to meet the quints within the next few hours.

They informed us that Dr. Elliott was speeding to the hospital, on his way back from vacation, and we were going to try and wait for him to arrive around 4pm. But, when he heard that I had a fever, he gave the go ahead to deliver in his absence.

A moment to smile before delivery.

A moment to smile before delivery.

Thus, they unraveled the most well-orchestrated delivery I have every heard of. With over 20 people in the delivery room (6 teams: one for me and one for each baby), they delivered the quints in about 3 minutes. The entire “operation” took about 45 minutes. I vaguely remember these moments, but Frank was right by my side to catalog it all.

Following delivery, Frank headed to the quints’ recovery room. By the time I arrived, all were gone and up to the NICU. My mom awaited me in the recovery room, and was over-joyed to see me safe and sound. I, unfortunately, could not see our little angels until my fever subsided and my breathing had stabilized.

Frank is ready to be a Daddy!

Frank is ready to be a Daddy!

Dr. Elliott arrived and it was clear he was upset that he could not deliver our babies, but we truly respected his decision. He shared with Frank that sometimes as a physician you have to make a decision with your head and not your heart. If we had waited even a moment longer my infection may have complicated the babies course.

Those 48 hours preceding the birth of our babies, were some of the worst of my life. But, I know that without that treatment regimen, our 5 little miracles would not have passed the “steroid efficacy window” and may have been at an even greater risk for serious complications.

Our heartfelt thanks goes out to Dr. Elliott and the teams at Banner Desert for their superb, patient-centered care, compassion and wisdom. For I know that if we were anywhere else, the circumstances and outcome may have been very different.

We have much more to share with everyone and are working on getting some fantastic pics of the quints, so look forward to some more baby updates in the near future!

The V5 have Arrived

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is our pleasure to announce that on the 3rd day of August, 2013, between the hours of 1:48 and 1:50pm, five beautiful new baby Vanderwalls came into the world. That’s right, it’s time to introduce you all to the V5!

First, is big brother Theodore Joseph – he was the first one out of the womb at 1:48 pm, weighing 2lb 14oz and measuring 14.5″. Upon being told by the nurse that he was the only boy, and had a life with four sisters to look forward to, he literally began screaming and kicking. It had everyone in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) laughing. I think he’s going to be a performer. I mean look at his picture, he’s already showing off his first public magic trick – making his feet glow.

Theodore1

Second out of the womb at 1:49pm, was 2lb 7oz Isabella Marie, also measuring 14.5″. Sporting a full head of hair at only 29 weeks, like her brother Theo, she was our first precious daughter to take a breath of real air. Already living up to the meaning of her name “Bella,” she is incredibly beautiful. We’ve requested she be kept away from any other boys in the NICU. I already caught one of the other premie boys eyeing her up on the way in 😉

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Born at the same time as Bella, 2lb 11oz, 14.6″ Lillian Grace entered the world with her mouth wide open. She let out a cute little scream then was whisked off to the NICU to join her brother and sister. Adorned in her little stitched hat, she’s certainly making a good case to be daddy’s favorite little girl. Unfortunately for her, this daddy is going to have four favorite little girls, not just one. Let’s not tell her just yet, though 😉 She seems to really be enjoying her self-proclaimed title.

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One minute later, at 1:50pm, our third little girl, 2lb 5oz, 13″ Kali Mae, joined her siblings. Kali, who you’ll see already has a striking resemblance to her very handsome father, was a kicker and a screamer from the get-go; further establishing the aforementioned resemblance to her father.

Kali

And last, but certainly not least, at 1:50pm Elliot Rose completed the V5’s arrival into the world. 2lb 6oz, 14.5″ Ellie was our little fighter, overcoming a couple weeks of very scary distress in the womb. She proved her tenacity once she exited as well. All of our little blessings performed admirably throughout their first day in the NICU, but it was Ellie who received the highest remarks, breathing all on her own with the least assistance from the NICU staff.

Elliott1

I am also happy to announce that after a medically difficult 12 hours, following delivery, Cassie has turned the corner and is back on track for a swift, full recovery. She made it up the NICU today (Aug 4) and FINALLY got to see our babies for the first time!

V5 Day 1 019

Thank you for all of your continued prayers, hugs, kisses, and well-wishes. We are humbled and most thankful for everyone’s support. Stay tuned for more updates.

Love you all!!!

Daddy V (and the rest of the V7)

The Quint’s Domain

The quint’s domain is nearing completion thanks to Frank and our invaluable friends! This past week Frank coordinated the rearranging of an abundance of furniture, cleaning of closets, and construction of all of the baby furniture and shelving!

I cannot thank Jake, Bethany, Sean, Jenny, Liz, Brad, Ryan, Hayley, Sam, Angela, Sunghee and Jo enough for their generosity. We have been so blessed by their friendship and support since day one. I can’t explain the peace that it brings me to know that our babies will have a place to lay their little heads when they arrive back in Madison. Thank you!

Here are some more snapshots of the action!

Sam cleaning out the closet

Sam cleaning out the closet

Liz reconstructing our guest room

Liz reconstructing our guest room

Our reconstructed office in the basement!

Our reconstructed office in the basement!

Sam, Ryan & Jo building a crib

Sam, Ryan & Jo building a crib

The new cribs constructed by Frank, Sam, Jake, Ryan and Jo!

The new cribs constructed by Frank, Sam, Jake, Ryan and Jo!

Hayley cooking up a storm for our hungry helpers!

Hayley cooking up a storm for our hungry helpers!

 

These shelves were built in mere moments as Sean moved about like The Flash

These shelves were built in mere moments as Sean moved about like The Flash

 

Foreman Manny overseeing the project

Foreman Manny overseeing the project

 

The Name Game

name

With about 9 weeks to go, Frank and I have decided to let the names be known!

Our little boy, previously known as “Baby A” will be Theodore Joseph. Both, Frank and I, believe that Theodore is a strong name, and acknowledge many Ted’s, Teddy’s and Theo’s who have made their marks on history. Also, I came to find out that Theodore is also a family name. Joseph is also a very significant name in the Turzy family and has been passed down for four generations. It is my dad’s middle name and my brother’s first name; two men who I am proud to name my son after. The meaning of his name is: God’s Gift (Theodore) and “He will add” (Joseph). There is no doubt that this little guy is a gift from God who will hopefully continue to add to history as his Theodore forefathers.

We are unable to assign names to our little girls (Babies B-E) since upon delivery the docs simply grab whoever is next in line and we won’t be able to tell who was who. So, we have preferenced the names:

The first girl will be Isabella Marie, which means “Devoted to God” (Isabella) and “Wished for child” (Marie).  Marie was also the name of my Grandma on dad’s side. Baby Bella has definitely been a wished for child who we devote to God.

The second girl will be Lillian Grace, which means, “Pure” (Lillian) and “Grace” after the mercy God has shown us in this process. She will be a reminder that each day can be a new day. I also found out that I had an Aunt Lillian who was married to my Uncle Ted.

The third girl will be Kali Mae, which we will pronounce like Kaylee, also means “Pure.” Mae is my middle name, as well as, my great Polish Grandmother’s name. Mae is a derivative of Marie and thus also means, “Wished for Child.”

The fourth girl will be Elliott Rose, which means, “Jehovah is God” (Elliott) and “Flower” (Rose). We chose Elliott after our current doctor, who has been so understanding, compassionate and supportive in this process. We found out after sharing this news that I also have a Great Aunt Rose, the sister of my Grandma Marie. Little Elle Rose will be a reminder that the Lord is God and He deserves the glory for leading us through these testing times to a beautiful testimony.

Naming these little miracles makes this experience all-the-more real. Also, I loved learning what each of the names meant and about our family history after we had unknowingly chose the names. It is even more evidence for me that God’s fingerprints are all over this story.

The Announcement…explained.

Sharing the news that you are going to have a baby is an exciting opportunity; sharing the news that you are going to have five babies is seriously five times as exciting! We decided to share this news with our family and very close friends the day of our first ultrasound. We sat in the car after that quintessential moment and contemplated how we would share with each individual. Everyone was as lost for words as we were, and their support was also breath-taking. Since that day, the thoughts, kind words, prayers and support and have not ceased to bless us. My dad even lit individual candles for our five miracles, and my mom texts 7 hugs to us every night!

Five heartfelt prayers for five little miracles

Five heartfelt prayers for five little miracles

We welcome the opportunity to share this news with the world yesterday. It was a difficult decision to share this so early in the pregnancy (8 weeks). But, with risks being so high we know we are going to need all the prayers we can get!

More to come on our first visit with the perinatalologists…