Happy 28 Weeks! Oops...I Mean, Happy New Year!!

So here we are, New Year's Eve 2008, ready to ring in the new year and wave a fond farewell to the year that saw everything in our lives change for good and change for the better! 2009 promises to bring just as much change along with 5 times the chaos, blessings, laughter, frustration, confusion, organization, reorganization, smiles, smiles, grey hairs, more smiles, and immeasurable times the love!

More important for us tonight than the New Year holiday is the fact that we have reached the most important milestone to date for this crazy journey - week 28! Achieving this milestone has dominated our focus from the beginning as it marks a point at which our chances of "intact survival" of all babies are very high (intact survival means survival with no major, lasting defects). Adding to our excitement over reaching this date is the fact that Casey is not in the hospital yet and we were able to spend Christmas at our house this year which was another one of our goals. That's Eliot poking her head out of one of the windows in her new playhouse...Santa was very good to our little girl!

We had a crazy day today and Casey is paying the price, but she is relaxing now and looking forward to an easier day tomorrow after a good, Ambien-induced, full night's sleep tonight. We started off our morning with an interview at our home with KXAN, the local NBC channel. They are doing a story on the new labor and delivery wing of the hospital that will be delivering the babies, Seton on 34th, and they wanted to include our story as part of the feature on Seton. After that, we met reporters from KVUE (ABC) at Dr. Berry's office for another interview while we checked in on the babies. Finally, the KVUE team followed us back home to wrap up the interview. All of that activity really impacts Casey so she's had a rough afternoon and won't be moving around much for the next few days! Here is the link to the news story that ran today:

Everything went very well at Dr. Berry's office. The babies are growing as expected with their weights ranging from 1 pound, 13 ounces to 2 pounds, 6 ounces. However, I'm a little disappointed in Jack for giving up the lead in weight gain to one of the girls. He came in a strong second, however, at 2 pounds, 3 ounces and I fully expect that he will regain the lead by the time we see him next! Actually, I have to cut him a little slack. It's a little difficult to make out, but Jack is the middle circle in the sonogram picture attached. That's his head being smushed by one of the girls heads on the left and one of the other girls' belly on the right. The poor boy is just outnumbered!

Dr. Berry doesn't want Casey in the hospital unless it is absolutely necessary for her to be there so we are continuing with the waiting game that we've been playing the last couple of weeks. Our next goal is to make it to 32 weeks and get the babies weights up to four pounds each. If you're doing the math, that means doubling their weight in the next four weeks! I don't know how it's possible for Casey's belly to keep growing, but it will have to do just that if the babies are going to reach their goals.
Though we can breathe a pretty big sigh of relief, let me add a little reality check before I wrap up this update. If the babies delivered today, they would be 3 months premature. Though the odds of intact survival are very good at this point, our doctors have made it very clear that they want the babies in Casey's belly as long as is physically possible to avoid any possible complications. The babies still have a lot of growing to do and there is no better place to do that than in Casey's belly. No matter when they are born, the babies will likely spend several weeks in the NICU to complete their development, but that time can be exponentially reduced by maintaining the pregnancy as many days as possible (1 day in the womb is equal to 3 days in the NICU).

Once again, we want to thank everyone for their prayers and support. We are continually reminded just how blessed we are to live this experience and to feel the prayers of so many. Today is a good day at the Jones house, thanks in large part to everyone out there who has loved on us through this entire process. Please continue to pray for Casey's comfort and health and the continued growth of the Quints!

Oh, one more thing I almost forgot. Casey got a steroid shot today and I get to give her another one tomorrow. We did a round of steroids at week 24 and we'll do another at week 32. The steroids help accelerate the babies brain, lung, and intestinal development and helps prevent brain bleeding (which is one of the causes of cerebral palsy). I'm not exactly sure how it works, but basically the drug is effective for a few weeks after the shots are given, but only if the babies are born during that time. This is also good news that we were able to get these shots done. It's also good news that I get to give the next shot...ha, ha, ha!! ;-)

Many blessings to you all in 2009!!
God Bless,


Baby and Casey Update - 26.5 Weeks

First, a little perspective for you from a picture that was taken five minutes ago. The other glowing blonde with Casey is Payton Merriman, one of our good friends from Riverbend Church. She and her husband, Mark, are two of our everyday heroes and angels who have been helping with frequent meals and frequent play dates for Eliot with their daughter, Harper. The reason for the picture is this: Payton and Casey have the exact same due date (if we were only having one baby), March 27th. That's right, she is 26.5 weeks pregnant just like Casey. What a difference four more babies makes!

We went to see Casey's Ob/Gyn today, Dr. Stephanie Reich, for our regular visit to check in on the babies and Casey's health. Dr. Reich delivered Eliot and Casey always felt very comfortable with her so we were thrilled early on when we found out she would keep working with us through the quint pregnancy. She and our perinatologist, Dr. Berry, have worked together every step of the way and both of them will be in the delivery room with Dr. Reich taking the lead.

As has been the case with every visit to date, the babies and Casey are both doing very well! The babies seem to be running out of room though - we could really tell this time just how crammed they are on top of each other. Casey has baby parts up against both kidneys, pressed down against the bottom of her cervix, just below her sternum, and all points in between. There are literally three babies stacked on top of each other from her waist to her chest and one baby on each side of this stack. Later today, Casey had her hands on her hips and could feel the babies on the sides moving at the same time...crazy!

Though she is having a real hard time moving around, breathing, eating, sleeping, and just about every other activity necessary for survival, both doctors are astounded at how well Casey is handling this pregnancy. Dr. Reich told us today that she is really surprised that she's not in the hospital yet. Her blood pressure was very healthy when they checked it today, her cervix is still completely closed, her symptoms are stable, and she is growing as she needs to be. Her belly grew 2.5 centimeters in the last two weeks!

As the babies are starting to require more calories to complete their development, Casey was given orders to eat more calories. Normally, that'd be great news, but it's really hard for her to eat much at one time because her stomach is being smashed down by all those babies. She is also having an aversion to sweets so I can't even tempt her with bowls of ice cream and holiday candy!
So, for now we continue the waiting game. And though the wait is always the hardest part, we love the fact that Christmas will be at our home this year and not at the hospital. We love it that Casey and the babies are doing so well. And we love it that we are almost to week 28 and the pregnancy is almost over! We love more than anything that God has blessed us so richly with this pregnancy and that we have been able to share these blessings with so many wonderful people. It's going to be a wild January (and hopefully early February), but we are more excited with each passing day about finally getting to see these little ones who have garnered so much attention. And when the time is finally right for this guy and these gals to meet the world, bring on the CHAOS...the good chaos that is!!
God Bless,


It Comes in Waves...

After a fairly quiet week, we had a lot of activity today which seems to be the way things go these days...really quiet for a few days, then a wave of activity before things quiet down again. So, here is a quick recap of the daily happenings in the Jones Life:

- Today, we passed another milestone - week 26!! The next two weeks are the most critical two weeks we've had to date...statistically, the survival rate skyrockets and the defect rate plummets during these next two weeks...say your prayers, please!

- The producer for A Baby Story called today and said that it looked like they were going to get the green light and that she was planning on flying in on Monday with a film crew to do two days of interviews and filming for "Act 1" of the story they were going to do on us. Very exciting!! However, at the end of the day, she called back and said that a last minute legal glitch has put everything on hold for about a week. She still thinks everything will work out fine, but can't risk spending the money on flights, etc. until she knows for sure. Bummer, big time, but we think it will happen. Hopefully they'll get it worked out and get a crew down here before Casey goes to the hospital!!

- We were surprised today by a friend of ours who has been collecting baby stuff for us through her work, the good folks at Humana! She brought tons of diapers, wipes, and other cool stuff! Not only has she been collecting from her co-workers, but she also sent out an email to one of their vendors who were hosting an office party at Humana's headquarters, Austin Radiological Association, and asked them to donate. Apparently, someone at Austin Radiological knows Casey and rallied up three huge baskets of clothes, blankets, bibs, burp rags, etc...so awesome! Unfortunately, however we do not know who it is so if you happen to be reading this and you know who this incredible person is, please let them know how grateful we are! Thank you also, Ginger, for organizing this and bringing everything out to the house!!

- I had my paint crews start today on the nursery. They got the first coat of paint on everything and will be back on Monday to finish up.

- Another friend of ours called today to say she was headed our way with a high chair for us. That makes four high chairs...only one more to go!
- This weekend, my honey-do list includes cleaning and organizing the garage and a trip to Babies'R'Us to buy the cribs and bedding so we can start putting them together...yippy ;-)

- Eliot has had a great week topped off by two sleepovers at her friend Maddy Brown's. Our friends, Stacy and Mike Brown have been so incredible and have taken care of Eliot several nights in the last month when I had class. They picked her up Thursday after school and will be bringing her back tomorrow morning. Lots of fun with the little girls, but I'm guessing the Brown family is worn out!!
I hope everyone had a great week and is looking forward to a relaxing weekend!!
God Bless,


Waiting for the Call - Update on Casey, 25-1/2 Weeks

I get asked every day several times a day how Casey is feeling and my typical answer is that "she's hanging in there." Lately though, I've had to hesitate before I can say that. It's becoming more and more difficult for Casey to hang in there as her body just continues to grow and change so rapidly and the babies run out of room in her womb. She has been experiencing near constant Braxton-Hicks contractions and sleep is very difficult to come by these days (thank God for the Ambien she gets to take every other day!). Despite all of this, her spirit does remain strong and she continues to amaze me with her positive attitude!!

We went to see Dr. Berry today and check in on the quints and as usual, all went very well. The babies are all growing as they should be and Casey's body is doing as well as can be expected. However, Dr. Berry put me on notice that I am officially waiting for the call, probably an anxious one from an anxious wife (and hopefully not a panicked or hysterical wife) telling me that it's time to go to the hospital. Don't get me wrong, delivery is not imminent, but a hospital visit is expected soon.

Let me explain. Dr. Berry fully expects that Casey will go into active labor in the next 2-1/2 weeks. We will know this because she will start having serious contractions, she may start bleeding, her water may break, or any of the other normal signs of active labor will appear. The only problem with this is that we are by no means ready for her to deliver. So, when I get the call, I'll drop whatever it is I'm doing, I'll head home to pick her up (assuming I'm at work), and we'll be headed to the hospital for what will hopefully be an extended stay.

Assuming her water hasn't broken (we really do not want that to happen), we do not expect the visit to the hospital to qualify as an emergency per se, but it will be a very tense time as we wait for the drugs that are administered to stop her labor from progressing to take effect and quiet her body back down. Because it is so critical to get the babies to at least 28 weeks, we will all be tied up in knots until things settle down and labor is stopped. Dr. Berry said that once labor has been stopped, it is typical for the body to relax for about two weeks before it tries to labor again. From that point on, Casey will reside at Seton on 34th until her body decides it will be put on hold no longer and the babies are evicted.

So, the good news is this: we expect that making it to 28 weeks will not be a problem at all. 28 weeks is the second major goal we've had (the first coming at 24 weeks) and it means that the babies likelihood of survival is very high and the risk of defects is very low. Week 28 arrives on New Year's Eve!!

And here is the challenge: we really don't want the babies born before 32 weeks and the time Casey spends in the hospital will be incredibly difficult for her. Every day that the babies stay in her womb removes three days of time they will have to spend in the NICU. However, the drugs that they will administer to prevent the progression of labor will exact a painful toll on Casey's short term health. On top of all of that, being away from home will make it much more difficult for Eliot and me to be with Casey to love on her as she is going to need through this incredible battle.

So as I wait for the call, I also ask for you to pray for Casey and the babies and the rest of the people involved with the big event. We are excited, we are anxious, we are a little scared of what lies ahead. No matter how you slice it, this is a tough hill to climb, but we're not alone in the fight and we are confident of the good life that awaits us when we get to the other side. Please pray for Casey's body to remain calm and for her spirit to remain strong as we enter the final phase of the pregnancy! Please also pray that we can stay out of the hospital until after Christmas - this has also been one of our major goals!! Thank you all so much for your love and support throughout everything we've been through!!

God bless,


Ready or Not, Part 2

A few of our everyday heroes and angels came by today to organize the stuff in the gameroom. They got here around 9:30 and didn't leave until every last onesie, burp rag, diaper, bouncy seat, and all of those clothes were put in their proper place. They organized, they folded, the labeled, and they did it all with a smile on their hearts! Thank you, guys, for all of your help - my sanity is safe thanks to you...at least for now!

Ready or Not

Lately, the only time I've felt overwhelmed by what is happening in our lives is when I go up to the gameroom. This used to be where Casey and I would work out every morning (something she and I used to do before news of the quints arrived and before school began). Now, it is where all of the baby stuff that we have begun to accumulate has been placed temporarily until everything can be organized and some sort of system can be figured out to handle all "Quint Care Operations."

I'm not sure what it is about the gameroom that kickstarts my heart into panic mode, but it does it every single time I walk up there. Maybe it's because I'm a guy and being a guy means that I respond to visuals more than anything. The gameroom, more so than Casey's expanding belly (remember, to this point, I've seen her this big before with Eliot's pregnancy), has become a visual reminder of just how crazy our life is going to be. There are piles and piles of clothes, eight or nine bouncy seats, diapers, diapers, and more diapers, blankets, bedding, bibs, burp rags, more blankets, three pack'n'plays - 90% of all of this stuff has been donated or gifted - and other stuff absolutely necessary (at least that's what I'm told) to surviving life with five newborns.

It could also be the fact that I'm a "everything has its place and everything should be in its place" kind of guy and these randomly placed piles of stuff simply freaks me out! Actually, I know that's part of the problem!

The other thing it could be is that the piles of stuff are a clear reminder of just how much life is going to change, and more to the point, how much of our old life Casey and I are going to have to give up in order to embrace this new life. Seeing all of this stuff piled all over my weights, crowding out my space is just too much for me to handle at the moment without having to talk myself down for a few moments.

We never planned on having a big family and we never would have written this script for ourselves so seeing the baby making operation begin to exert its will on our home is a not so subtle reminder of the force it will exert on every aspect of our lives. To be sure, there is a lot to be excited about and we are thankful for this amazing time in our lives, but also to be sure, we have had our share of "why?, how?, and are you kidding me?" moments as this journey has progressed.

Thursday night we had our Bible study group over for dinner and after dinner was over, they helped us rearrange some furniture in preparation for the babies. What I wasn't prepared to do was clear my weights out of the gameroom, but they just started grabbing everything and moving it to the garage. To say the least, I was a bit pouty while this was happening and I'm not so sure I'm not still pouty.

It's so strange how little things like that can hit so hard sometimes, but it did. I guess my reaction to all of this is a strong indication that I'm not quite ready for what's coming, but can you ever truly be ready for five babies at one time?? No, I don't think you can, but that's life, right? The lessons learned the best are sometimes the lessons that force themselves on you when you least expect it.

But here's the deal, we have a lot coming our way and there will certainly be some heartache that accompanies this change, but how can we be anything but grateful and humbled by it all? How many have lost loved ones in the blink of an eye or had to stand helplessly as their house burns to the ground in the middle of night or found out that their baby has a disability that will be with them throughout life? The list could go on forever of all of the calamities and heartaches that strike in an instant, without warning, without mercy and turn people's lives upside down forever. How on earth do you deal with something like that? I won't even attempt to get into the "why?, how?, and are you kidding me?" of that...

Not only are we not dealing with calamity or heartache, we have five precious little lives coming into our world, but we've had a chance to prepare (as best we can at least). We've had a chance to say a prayer (actually, lots of prayers) to ask for guidance, to seek acceptance, and to get the help we need in coming to grips with everything - something a lot of people don't have the luxury of doing when their life is rapidly unraveling. We've had the incredible experience of watching family, friends, and strangers rally around us in support, prayer, and love not only for us, but also for five lives unborn. And amidst all of the preparation and the worry and the how of it all, we've had the joy of dreaming of what amazing gifts are being prepared for us by our Father in Heaven.

So, yeah, I get overwhelmed and we worry and sometimes we complain a little bit. But at the end of the day, it all comes back around and we remember just how good we've got it...and just how good it's going to be. As for my weight room, it's a thing of the past as are many other parts of what I used to call normal life. But as for today, excited anticipation (and the occasional hyperventlation) is here to stay. And our future, well, ready or not here it comes!!
God bless,


Uplifting? Check!

Casey just told me this little tidbit from a friend today and I had to share. This is the cool kind of thing we get to experience several times a week...

One of Casey's mom's good friends came from Denton today to our baby shower. She drove four hours to get here, stayed for an hour or so, then drove four hours home...totally awesome, but not the reason for this blog.

This is why I write tonight - she told Casey that she prays for the babies every day and that one time while she was praying, she felt an overwhelming sense that she should "pick one." So she did - she picked Lila Addison as her "one". And from that day forward, she has said her prayer for the babies and then she says a prayer specifically for Lila. How cool is that? Little girl isn't even born yet and she already has a prayer warrior assigned to her...VERY COOL!!

This is exactly what I mean when I say the response and the love that we have gotten from everyone has been so uplifting! It gives us such an incredible sense of the power at work in these babies' lives when we have these encounters! Thank you, Jan, for the love that you've shown our family, the quints, and especially little Lila Addison!!

God Bless,


Everyday Heroes and Angels

One of the most rewarding, exciting, and often times entertaining aspects of the adventure we are on has been the response we've gotten from people when they find out we're having quints. From family and good friends to casual acquaintances and complete strangers, the reactions are as varied as the life experiences that foster them and they always provide Casey and I with something to talk about at the end of the day.

Once the initial shock wears off, the obligatory "wows!" and "oh my gods!!" have been exclaimed, and the inevitable question has been asked, "Have you seen that show, 'John and Kate Plus Eight'?," a person's heart really shines through and that's when you get to the good stuff. We get a lot of pep talks, "you know, God only gives a person what he can handle." We get a lot of compliments, "if anyone can handle this, it's you two." And truthfully we get a lot of dumbfounded, blank stares. The best part of it all is that you never know what you're going to get from the person, even if it's a good friend or family member! All of these little reactions and everyday encounters have been incredibly uplifting and have served our hearts well!
The one reaction that has taken some getting used to, but is the most rewarding of all is the reaction of those who immediately roll up their sleeves and go to work and that is what this blog is really about. There is a small group of folks who mobilized and started the planning process the instant they heard the news. As Casey and I were dealing with the initial tidal wave of emotions and trying to make just a tiny bit of sense of it all, they were meeting, strategizing, appointing tasks, praying, rallying volunteers, praying some more, and loving on us every step of the way. As things have progressed, other sleeve-roller-uppers have jumped in the ring with the initial group and have truly become our everyday heroes and angels.

Do you know what it feels like to have a friend call to tell you that several folks got together the night before to plan your life and to organize a team to meet all of your current and future needs? Have you ever been cc'd on 30 or 40 emails that go around in a day between all of the people involved in putting together a care calendar for you to ensure that meals and other basic necessities are provided for you? Have you ever been the focus of an organized, focused contribution campaign? Have you ever had complete strangers cook a meal for you? Have you ever had people from across the nation send you baby clothes? Have you ever been told that you are the subject of a prayer meeting that reaches across the globe?

Well, Casey and I can answer "yes" to all of the above and let me just tell you that it is an amazing and amazingly humbling experience. Though I don't know if we'll ever get used to this sort of treatment, it has helped to realize that we actually have a responsibility to allow these folks to help out. The need is absolutely there, but even when it's been there in the past, human nature tells us to kindly pass on these offers and get through it on our own. The enormity of this situation has forced us to accept the help and at the same time has forced us to learn that denying the offer of help is denying God's ability to work in your life.

Sadly, I've done very little volunteer work in my life, but the few times I have I learned about a little known twist of reality that I wish everyone could experience for themselves. Our God designed our hearts in such a way that the volunteer, the giver, the one bringing help to the needy is equally if not more blessed than the one receiving the love. It's the craziest thing - it turns out that the old saying that it's better to give than receive is true!

I know they won't necessarily like this, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of these everyday heroes and angels by name so here goes: Dean and Emily Yeck - the driving force, publicists, contributions coordinators, moral supporters, reality checkers, whip crackers, baby namers, calorie coaches, and the list goes on...; Rick Landwehr - best webmaster in the universe; Wendi Landwehr - project manager extraordinaire who has helped organize the effort, has also cooked a lot of meals and helped out with Eliot and has provided lots of reality laughter along the way; Mark and Payton Merriman - gooooood cookin' and lots of love for Eliot; Dusten and Tricia Harrison - more gooooood cookin', principal agents of Salon Jones, and chauffer to the stars (the stars being Casey and the quints, of course!), Laurie Garrant - moral supporter, good laugh giver, and food calendar organizer.

I could go on for days listing all of the other folks who have chipped in to bring us meals, take care of Eliot, donate clothes and other stuff, do our dishes, bring Casey vanilla decaf lattes and gossip magazines, and on and on and on! And every ounce of effort by these folks has been done with a smile...you can literally feel the love pouring out of them!! I don't know how we'll ever repay a fraction of the attention we have received, but please know that we would not be where we are today without all of the helping hands and shining hearts of our everyday heroes and angels to carry us through. For this we are eternally grateful!!!!


The Light is Getting Brighter

We had a great appointment today with our perinatologist, Dr. Berry. We went in for a regular check up and sonogram and by all accounts, things are going very well. All of the babies checked in with normal length and weight and heart rate measurements and Dr. Berry was very happy to hear Casey's report on how she has been feeling since the hospital stay. Here are some quick stats for you:

- The babies were between the 37th and 75th percentiles in size as compared with normal singleton pregnancies.

- The heart rates were between 126 and 167 bpm which is well within the normal range (one of the babies was sleeping which explains the 126).

- Big Bad Jack is still anchoring the crew weighing in at 1 pound, 14 ounces which puts him in the 75th percentile.

- Three of the girls weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces (37th percentile) while the fourth weighed in at 1 pound, 8 ounces.

Beyond the great news with how the babies are developing, Dr. Berry gave us great confidence that we are nearing the end of the tunnel and the light is getting much brighter! At 23 weeks and 4 days, he said that if Casey were to go into labor at this point he would definitely be able to administer active care to prevent the delivery from happening. What a huge relief after feeling so helpless when we had to go to the hospital just a couple of weeks ago when they told us nothing could be done if she went into labor!

He also felt very confident that Casey will be able to make at least two more weeks, but probably more than that and if she were to go into labor, he felt that he could "keep her pregnant for at least three more weeks". Putting those two estimates (2 weeks plus 3 weeks) together brings us beyond our first major goal of 28 weeks!! To say the least, we are thrilled with this news!

We talked in more detail about the resuscitation efforts that may be necessary if the babies are born way too early, but the general feeling is that the horrible decisions that would have to be made in this event will not have to be made after all. As long as life progresses as predicted above, this will definitely be the case. Casey and I have committed this to prayer and feel strongly that we will not have to face these decisions!

We have been having a great time with this unique blessing so far, thanks in very large part to the many helping hands around us, but there has also been quite a bit of worry and anxiety to go along with the fun. While we have maintained our faith that all is in God's hands, it has sometimes been easier to believe than others. We still have quite a way to go, but today's appointment has allowed us to breathe a little easier as the light at the end of the tunnel keeps getting brighter and brighter! Thank you so much to all of you who have joined us in praying these five little miracles into the world...please keep the prayers coming!!

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