In honor of birth story week, I sat down to write up my experience. I’ve been reading the stories posted here with such voracity, identifying in some way with each one. I love reading them! Then I turned back to my own story. Hmmm…
Well, the funny thing about my birth story is that now that nearly five years have past, the details are getting hazy. At the time, I could recite every cm dilated I was as each day passed – but now, I only remember the big pieces. And I think that’s okay. I have written the details down in the boys’ baby books, and now I’m happy just to enjoy the days that we have together as they come.
So maybe my story is going to be a little less detailed than the ones we’ve seen so far this week, but maybe that’s okay.
I don’t think there’s anything unique about my birth story compared to other moms of multiples that I know. And while it’s fun to scare the heck out of the singleton mommies, I try to spare them most of my story, as it’s not quite fair to make those comparisons.
My initial pregnancy was pretty normal, up to week 19. And by normal I mean that I thought I was having ONE BABY. At my first ultrasound at 19 weeks, the sonographer started the show and asked, “So you already know you’re having two babies, right?” Our reaction was stunned silence. And then crazy joy. Two babies would be wonderful and perfect.
At 31 weeks, I was HUGE. I had gained nearly 50 pounds. I was extremely swollen. My legs and feet were completely inflated and hard – if you poked me, it stayed indented. Yuck.
At 32 weeks, I was told that my blood pressure was climbing. My body was reaching the end point. They hospitalized me and started me on magnesium, which turned into the worst 24 hours of my life. I was so worried about my babies, knowing that it was too early for them to come out, and yet, the torture of the magnesium was almost unbearable. Magnesium is given intravenously to stave off early labor. It makes you feel as if you are burning up from the inside out. You aren’t allowed to drink water either – they only give you a few CCs of ice chips each hour. I wanted what was best for the babies but felt that I wasn’t doing such a great job.
After two days, my doctor decided I wasn’t getting much better and labor was imminent. The hospital we were at was not equipped to handle my babies should they arrive so soon, so she transferred me a local hospital with a Level II NICU. An ambulance ride later (my very first), I was at home in a new room in a new hospital where they were much more used to delivering multiple babies. They immediately took me off the magnesium and everything else. It was an entirely different attitude. I felt so much better and was more confident that everything would be okay.
The next few days I spent on my left side with continual baby monitors strapped to my belly. I would have given anything to lay flat on my back or at least to have flipped to my right side. Anything except that I knew it was best for my blood pressure, and hence, the babies
At 33 weeks, my water broke at 4am and I was taken in for an emergency C-section by 8am. By 8:21am, our two baby boys were out of me and into the NICU.
It really happened so fast that I can hardly remember the details. I know I was an enormous cry-baby about the contractions. Once my water broke, the pain of those contractions was CRAZY. I still cannot imagine how anyone goes through natural labor and I have the HIGHEST respect for anyone going that route. Once the spinal took effect, it was smooth sailing for me. I was in no pain and felt only a lot of being moved around behind the curtain. My husband watched the whole thing and was pretty amazed to be talking to me like normal on one side of the curtain and see the whole other side where the babies were coming out.
Our boys were born seven weeks early and weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces and 4 pounds, 7 ounces. Big boys really, comparatively. Once I realized that I had nearly nine pounds of children inside me, I decided it was kind of understandable that my body was done. I had had seven weeks to go. Who knows how big they would have been by then?
They stayed in the NICU for four weeks. That was interesting in many ways – lots of days where they would get better and stronger and healthier and then lots of days where they would fall behind again. The biggest benefit that I see now from our stay there, aside from the phenomenal care we received, is that my boys were on a feeding and sleeping schedule from day one. That helped tremendously when we got home. We had a routine and we knew what to do with our babies. I am grateful for that.
Once we got home, we had a rotation of family members come to stay with us for about four weeks. One of those weeks, my husband stayed home with us too. Our families all live out of town, which never mattered before the babies arrived. Once we got home from the hospital, I saw that this was going to be a challenge. It’s still our biggest challenge as parents – we don’t have family around to help us get a break.
I went back to work full-time after 12 weeks of maternity leave. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. It took a long time to adjust. I learned that the only way I made it work for my sanity was that when I got home, I only focused on my babies. I didn’t balance the checkbook. I didn’t cook anything. I didn’t do laundry or clean. I just played and cuddled and snuggled and played some more with my two baby boys.
Okay, at some point, we did need to eat. LOL. But we did all those things after the babies were down “for the night” (which is a relative term depending on the night). After they were in bed, we did all those things we needed to do to take care of the house and get ready for the next day. Even now, I make it my priority to truly BE with my kiddos when I’m with them and save all the other stuff for when I’m not having kiddo time.
The moral of the story? My husband and I learned early on that we had to very self-sufficient, we had to give each other lots of breaks, we had to keep our connection to each other going and we had to let a lot of things go. A LOT of things. Like cleaning. Eating hot meals. Socializing. Those things just fall by the wayside because they have to. The most important thing is to keep ourselves sane and healthy and to focus on our family. That’s what works for us.
And my biggest piece of advice from the whole birth/coming home experience: hire a cleaning lady. You will never regret it.