In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.
In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.
It’s been a humbling experience to read the so many brave stories that have been contributed as part of the Prematurity Awareness week on HDYDI. I stand in sisterhood with all those who have shared their heart stories and am blessed and grateful to be able to share my birth story.
This time 3 years ago, I picked up my hospital bag and headed to Methodist Hospital Houston to deliver my fraternal twin girls. I was 39 weeks pregnant. I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t have a birth plan. I was going to wing it on hope and prayer because in my wildest dreams, I did not imagine an ending as surreal and ordinary as me walking into labor and delivery to have twin babies on just another Tuesday.
It’s not that I’m a pessimist, it’s just that there had been so much water under the bridge.
At 8 weeks pregnant, I started bleeding and this continued for 7 more weeks. My doctor put me on bed rest and I worked from home lying down on the couch. With every doctor’s visit, my heart was in my mouth until I got confirmation of 2 heartbeats. Then I could breathe again.
At 31 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with a shortened cervix. My doctor said all the indicators showed that if my cervix continued to change at the same rate, I would deliver my babies within 3 weeks unless I went on a very strict bedrest. I spent the next 5 weeks at home in bed; only getting up for 10 minutes at a time to eat and shower
At 36 weeks pregnant, I exhaled. I finally called my parents, family and friends and told them that I was pregnant. I know I left it late, I just couldn’t bear the thought of sharing more bad news with them should something happen with my high-risk pregnancy. Living so far away from most of my family and friends made it all the more easier to be silent about my pregnancy.
Finally it was the 16th of November 2010 and I went to the hospital for a scheduled induction. I changed into the hospital gown and settled in. After 10 hours of watching TV and epidural-induced motionlessness, I was wheeled into the operating theater. Around 7pm Houston time, my baby A announced herself to the world with the sweetest little cry. I think that moment of knowing “yes, she made it!” would stay with me forever. I was ready to meet my second child
But nothing happened. The doctor started asking for instruments. A few minutes later, a second and more senior doctor walks in. They confer and then he comes to my side of the bed and tells me my second baby’s heartbeat is getting weaker. I just stared at him blankly like he was speaking Greek. I had spent the last 39 weeks in a deliberate state of emotional numbness and I wasn’t coming out of it soon. They installed heart rate monitor for her and I waited some more. A few minutes later, the doctor ask me if I wanted them to use a vacuum to deliver the baby. I said no I’d prefer to push. After 2 pushes and the scariest 20 minutes of my life, my second baby girl was born.
3 years later, the birthday party is over and the girls have finally settled in bed. It’s mama’s time to write the story of the day they were born.
I know a lot of women pregnant with twins will come to this website for advice and find it. I know they’ll read all the shared stories and wonder how their story will be written. I hope that they’ll feel the love and hope in all the stories that have been shared this last one week. I want them to know that 3 years ago, I had 2 sets of premmie clothes in my hospital bag that my girls did not get to wear. I want them to know that many paths lead to destination motherhood and each path has its own story. Thank you for letting me share mine.
Yetunde-Olusola is the proud mom of twin girls, affectionately nicknamed Sugar and Spice. She blogs at mytwintopia and loves to share tips and resources based on her personal parenting experiences in the hopes that she stops some frazzled twin parent from re-inventing the wheel.