I was convinced that I was going to carry the boys until well into the next decade. This was the pregnancy that would never end. I would sleep forever more in a recliner. I would get up to pee 14 times a night for the rest of my life. I would never be able to eat ice cream because my gestational diabetes would never go away. I tried my hardest to convince my OB, Dr. J-W, that she should go ahead and schedule my c-section for earlier than the 38 weeks she declared would be “long enough.” I begged, I cajoled, I bribed. Nothing worked. And to add insult to injury, technically the day I turned 38 weeks was a Saturday. No elective c-sections on weekends. So I would have to wait an additional two days! I think I actually started to cry in her office. She smiled, patted my knee and told me to come back next week. Hmph! That was on a Friday.
Monday morning, I went in for routine U/S at 36w, 3d. The radiologist, who was not exactly known for his bedside manner, but who was well known for his well deserved ego, offhandedly told me that he thought Twin A’s amniotic fluid looked low and that he’d like for my OB to take a look at it. (Luckily her office was right next door to his.) Dr. J-W popped in and they quickly started talking and pointing and then all of a sudden, Dr. J-W looks at me and says, “They’re coming out today, my dear. I’ll schedule your c-section for later tonight. Go to the hospital right now. They’ll admit you to L&D for observation.” And I said…nothing. I remember my heart rate shot up and my jaw dropping. I asked if I could go home to get my bag and was given the green light. But she told me not to take longer than an hour to get to the hospital.
I was so freaked out/excited that I had to pull over so I could start calling everyone. First I tried my husband, Scott. Didn’t reach him on his office line. Ok, I’ll try his cell phone. No answer. I leave a message and then call him right back. Still no Scott. Hm. Ok, I’ll call my mom, who’s babysitting my daughter. I call my dad. I call my sister, who is a pediatric resident. I call Scott’s mom. Still no Scott.
By this point, I arrive home and start crying. Where the %$@&^ is Scott?! Even the receptionist at his office isn’t answering her phone. So I get crafty and start to dial extensions randomly. The first person who picks up is the admin to one of the senior VPs. I start to explain what’s happening in a high pitch voice, super rapid fire. I’m pregnant with twins, they are going to be delivered today, I can’t find Scott, he works on the other side of LA and it will take him at least 40 minutes to get to me. I’m freaking out. I stop to take a breath and she says in the most lovely and calm voice, “Don’t you worry, I’ll find him. He’ll call you.” I swear I had barely hit the end call button when my phone rings. Scott was in a meeting and had left his cell phone at his desk. Uh, what?!? Any way, he’s heading to the hospital.
I get there, I check in all by myself. They know who I am and have a lovely bed for me in L&D. I get hooked up to a fetal monitor with about 400 belts wrapped around me. Well, I guess just three. And then I settle in for a long afternoon of waiting. Various family members flow in and out. Scott arrives. I’m not allowed to eat or drink, but that’s okay, right? I only have a few hours to wait until my c-section is scheduled at 5:30pm. A nurse comes in to check me out and trailing her is a brand new nurse, freshly graduated from nursing school a week ago. I kid you not – a week on the job. The older nurse wants to start an IV for me. She wants newbie to do it. I figure, why not. And newbie does a fabulous job – I barely felt it.
It was right about now that the nurses started to play with my mind, telling me that the OR wasn’t going to be available until 6:30pm, then it became 9pm. I was not thrilled with the thought of having to wait, but hey, whatever. The only thing that concerned me was that this was all occurring on September 10. I really, really, really didn’t want the boys to be born on September 11. Everyone promised me that they would be born sometime today.
Ok, I settle down to wait some more. I’m thirsty & tired, but not allowed to drink anything. I think I tried to bribe the nurses to let me get water chips. But noooooo. Then I realize that I’m feeling sorta uncomfortable. But then I feel better. But then it happens again. Oh good lord. I’m having contractions. I’m going into labor. Don’t they realize that I’m going to have a c-section?
For the first hour the contractions are a piece of cake. But then they start to get a little more, uh, pronounced. I get measured – 3cm. More contractions, more pain, more time passes. I’m 5cm now. They give me something to stop the labor. It doesn’t work. More drugs, still don’t work. They call my OB. One last try with the drugs. Still in pain, still contracting. Dr. J-W waltzes in. “Okay, my dear. They are coming to come out right now.”
I’m not ready for this. I’ve been dying for this day, this time to come. And I’m not ready. I’ve been uncomfortable for weeks. Haven’t slept through the night in months. I’ve been in L&D anticipating this all day. Still not ready. But off we go. I say goodbye to the family. Scott puts his scrubs on, as does my sister, who will join us in the OR.
I get wheeled down the hall and have to hang out in the hallway because they aren’t quite ready in the OR. The scrub nurse is still getting things sorted out. They wheel me in. I get my epidural and immediately fall in love with my anesthesiologist. They let Scott and my sister in. And then I swear half of the hospital streams into the room. There are two teams from neonatal, two respiratory teams, a neonatalogist, my new loverboy anesthesiologist, my OB, another OB, a few random surgical nurses, the scrub nurses. I think there were 13 people besides me, Scott and sis. C-r-a-z-y. This is because the boys were considered preemie as they were being delivered before the 37 week mark.
I barely have time to start to worry, something I do well and often, when Dr. J-W starts cutting. I remember that Norah Jones was playing and thought that was nice as it was one of three CDs that Scott & I took on our honeymoon in Belize. I feel the usual pressure and then I hear a bunch of commotion, including a baby crying. It’s 6:25pm, and Joshua Christopher Mencken has entered the world. My sister looks over at Twin A’s team and tells me that he’s looking good. More pressure, more commotion, but no baby crying yet. I start to panic. Finally a hoarse cry. But still, I’m getting anxious.
Brief intermission to bring you up to date regarding Twin B. When I went in for my NT scan, Twin B’s back of the neck measurement was slightly higher than they wanted to see. The odds that he had some form of chromosomal issue became 1 in 142 or something like that, versus Twin A’s odds that were around 1in 10,000. I got genetically counseled, I was recommended an amnio, we got a double echocardiogram (another reason why the NT measurement is sometimes high). My blood work came back within normal ranges as did the echo’s. We elected not to get the amnio and just wait to see what would happen. (Even with an increased risk, 1 in 142 odds works out to being a 0.7% likelihood.) I decided to not worry about it again until there was something to worry about. And surprisingly, I was able to stay calm for the rest of my pregnancy. And now back to the birth story…
So at this point, I know that Josh is out and doing well. I know that Nathaniel Paul Mencken was born at 6:26pm. I do not know how Nate is doing. I gather up my courage and ask my sister in a very quavering voice, “Is he okay?” She gives me a very quick response, “Sure.” I push harder, “I mean, does he have Down Syndrome?” My sister gets up (against the orders of the anesthesiologist) and peeks at him. She runs back to my side and says, “Absolutely not, he is a perfect baby boy.” Whew! I’m not a particularly religious person, but at this point I say a prayer of gratitude.
Scott is allowed to take a couple of pictures. We’re ready for him and for my sister to be able to follow the boys to the NICU if they need to. However, as the teams examine the boys, great news! They are doing so well – no breathing issues, nothing else to be concerned about at all. Their APGARs are both 8 and then 9. It really doesn’t get much better than that. The neonatal teams and the respiratory teams for both boys leave. As does the neonatalogist who looks pissed off somehow. As if we have inconvenienced him. Whatever. My boys don’t need you anyway, mister.
From this point, I don’t remember a ton. I’m tired, I’m relieved, I’m so thirsty that I’m about to jump off this gurney and try to find a drinking fountain. I start feeling a lot of pressure in my chest. Huh. That can’t be good. I look for my boyfriend, Dr. Feel Good Druggy Man, and ask if I should be worried. He looks at me for a minute and looks over the curtain for a minute. “Nah,” he says, “They’re just stuffing your guts back in.” I kid you not, that’s exactly what he said to me.
We learn all of the facts about the boys as they are weighed, measured, cleaned up and otherwise inspected:
- Joshua Christopher Mencken weighed 6 lbs, 12 oz, and was 20” long. He was born with no hair except for a ring of hair around the back of his head, prompting my mother to start calling him “Friar Josh.”
- Nathaniel Paul Mencken weighed 7 lbs, 4 oz, and was 19.75” long. He was born with a very big and very bald head that turned red when he cried, giving him the nickname “Nater-the-tomater.” His voice continues to be very husky.
They get whisked off to the nursery for their first baths and for the family to get their first views. I get 4,000 stitches and staples and wheeled off to recovery. I know from when my daughter was born, that I probably won’t get to see the boys for at least an hour. The nurse in recovery tells me that I can go to my room in Maternity when I can feel my legs. Scott comes back in to tell me what everyone says when they see the boys. I ask the nurse for some water. She asks my OB who gives her the thumbs up. I think I drank about a gallon of water. It takes about 45 minutes of waiting and then it’s time. As they wheel me to Maternity, my family gets a brief minute to say hi. We’re all excited and grateful that everyone is okay.
And then suddenly I’m in my room. The reality of my life hits me. I’m a mother of three. I have twin boys. It’s funny what went through my head. The thing that I was really fixated on was whether I would be able to tell them apart. I was pretty sure they were fraternal, but still! How embarrassing would that be if their own mother couldn’t tell them apart! There’s a knock on the door and a nursery nurse is there wheeling in two isolettes. The boys have arrived!