A&D’s Birth Story: 35 weeks 2 days

Prematurity Awareness Week 2013: How Do You Do It?

World Prematurity Day November 17In 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.


My pregnancy had been difficult, to say the least. From 6 weeks on, I was beset with a very severe case of “morning” sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum. Despite medication, I vomited multiple times every day of my pregnancy (and, in fact, for about a week afterwards). Mr. A did not have a measureable heartbeat at our 7-week ultrasound, and measured very small. He developed a nice, strong heartbeat, but continued to measure behind. When I was 21 weeks, a follow-up anatomy scan revealed a complication, not with the boys, but with me: I had cervical funneling. I was put on bed-rest.

At 23 weeks, a high-risk OB doctor informed me that our Mr. A had fallen completely off his own growth curve, and had a very dim prognosis. The doctor said it was probably a virus, infection, or placental failure. He suggested either delivering between 24 and 26 weeks, or giving up on Mr. A. The panic and helplessness I felt still clutches at my heart. I felt so incredibly torn: why should I punish Mr. D by dooming him to a very premature birth, simply because he was a twin? But how could I give up on Mr. A? Whenever people say, “I always wanted twins!” or wish twins upon someone undergoing fertility treatments, I flash back to this moment, and think no, no, you don’t want twins, please hope instead for a healthy, singleton pregnancy.

It turned out, much to my joy (with a side-dish of pure rage), that Mr. A had no virus, no infection, no failing placenta, but instead an incompetent doctor. The ultrasound machines had switched to different software or something, and hadn’t properly calculated estimated gestational age, and the doctor didn’t bother to look at raw numbers before telling me this dismal news. I had multiple follow-ups at different offices, plus a ton of blood work, and everything was fine. Mr. A was small, but doing just fine.

The weeks crept by, and I remained pregnant. I was even briefly off bed-rest, for 3-week span that included Christmas. I was, however, having very regular contractions. I had non-stress-tests twice a week, and after each one, they wanted to send me to L&D. But my funneled cervix was holding fast, so I remained on bed-rest and carried my boys all the way to my 35th week, much to the amazement of myself and my OB. I was having ultrasounds every 3 weeks to monitor Mr. A’s growth, and he was holding steady on his own curve, with Mr. D riding along at about the 50%ile.

On Tuesday, January 31st, I went in for another NST. My husband happened to have that Tuesday off, and so he came with me. My boys, especially Mr. A, gave the nurses fits at each NST, refusing to stay still for the required 20-minutes of continuous monitoring, stretching these tests into hours-long events. On this day, Mr. A was so wiggly that they decided to simply to a biophysical profile on him instead, and throw in some growth measurements for kicks.

They never got that far. The ultrasound showed Mr. A hadn’t grown in 10 days. He had, according to their measurements, actually shrunk. (I do know that babies do not grow shorter, but they can lose weight. We suspect this is what happened to Mr. A.) More alarmingly, the his umbilical cord was showing reverse blood flow. Mr. D was doing great, but my husband and I were pretty sure we knew what was coming.

But first we had to wait. The tech could not say, “These babies are coming out.” Even the high-risk OB would not say, “Today is the day.” I was sent to my regular OB’s office, where we waited. In the mean time, I called my younger sister, who is an OB in a different state, and left her a voicemail explaining what was going on. And my mother called me, and so I told her as well. About 4 hours after my NST should have been, my OB sat down with me and my husband, and said that she would schedule a c-section for 5 pm, so not to eat or drink. I had very much wanted a vaginal delivery, and she was even willing to perform a breech extraction, but with both my boys being transverse and with my lower baby being significantly smaller than my upper baby, that was off the table. I had kind of seen this coming, and really, the bottom line of my birth plan was “everyone out, alive”, so c-section it was.

The following 2.5 hours were very strange. We went home, I packed a bag and took a picture of my pregnant belly. My husband went to his office to finalize his FMLA. I watched an old episode of “The Daily Show”, thinking, “This will be the last time I sit on this couch without a baby in my house.”

I was wrong about that. While plenty of 35-weekers do indeed come home from the hospital with their moms, with little to no NICU stay, such was not to be the case for my boys. I had gotten beta-methasone shots to mature their lungs about a week prior, so I did have reason to hope. However. Mr. D had what is known as “wimpy white male syndrome”—he just did not do as well as girls or babies of other races would do. Mr. A turned out to have a very rare chromosomal abnormality, and would have needed extensive NICU time even if he had been full-term. I believe with all of my heart that the only reason Mr. A survived at all was because he was a twin. If he had been a singleton (as my current pregnancy is proving), I would not have had cervical funneling, extensive contractions, multiple ultrasounds because they simply couldn’t see Mr. D’s diaphragm or Mr. A’s kidneys due to positioning, etc. My OB-sister thinks that perhaps they would have noticed that my belly was measuring small, but frankly I am not convinced. Of course, if Mr. D had been a singleton, he would very likely have been full-term. Thus I think both my boys were in the NICU solely due to being multiples, but that Mr. A would not have made it that far if he were not.

But dreams about my future eventually gave way to reality, and we left for the hospital. My mother met us there. My husband and I had agreed that his job was to stay with the babies, and my mother felt that it was her job to stay with me.

They monitored the boys for a bit, then wheeled me into the freezing OR room. The room was teeming with people: a full NICU team for each baby, my OB and her partner, the anesthesiologist, a few nurses, and a medical student who got the fun job of holding the little tray while I vomited into it. I have always reacted poorly to medications of any sort, and the spinal and morphine and whatever else they used was no different. My husband came in, dressed to impress in sterile gear, and held my hand while they made the incision. There was a lot of tugging, which felt very odd. Mr. A was really wedged into my pelvis, and extracting him was difficult. But I heard them say, “Here he is!”

Someone—probably a NICU doctor—showed me my firstborn for less than a heartbeat. I was not allowed to snuggle him as I so longed to do, but I could clearly see why: he was a very scary shade of grey, and not crying. “He looks so blue!” I exclaimed, but no one answered. “Will he be ok?” Then I heard a weak cry, and began to sob myself. He would, he would be just fine.

And then, “5:31 pm, Baby B”…and I saw my Mr. D. They let me kiss him. I heard them call out Mr. A’s weight—3 lb 12 oz. That was 6 ounces less than the estimate, but I couldn’t dwell on that. He was 17.25 inches long. They took Mr. D and weighed and measured him: 6 lb 2 oz (exactly as estimated) and 19.5 inches. A’s APGARS were 6 and 7, D’s were 7 and 8. I think they would have let me spend more time with Mr. D, but my Mr. A needed to go to the NICU, as he was having a very hard time breathing and clearly needed surfactant and intubation (not that I could see this, as my OB was still mucking around in my uterus, extracting placentas and massaging blood out and whatever else goes on). My husband left with them, as did my heart.

I was sewn up and taken back to recovery, where things did not go well. I continued to vomit, and began shaking uncontrollably. The nurse seemed unphased, but my mother was very worried, I was I. My husband returned briefly to show me pictures of the boys, then left again. A neonatologist stopped in to give me news I couldn’t yet process: Mr. A had a cleft palate and was doing much worse than he should be. I just wanted to be with them, to see my boys, to hold them, to kiss them. I was eventually taken to a room on the floor, shaking less but still vomiting. I was told I couldn’t see them until I could walk from my bed to the wheel-chair unassisted. They would not even let me attempt this until 5 hours after their birth. When they did, I feared I wouldn’t make it. I believe I walked those 3 steps on will-power alone.

I was wheeled into the NICU, and saw my beautiful sons laying in adjacent open warmers. Mr. D had an IV in his scalp and an NG-tube down his nose, and all the monitoring devices, but no oxygen. I was allowed to hold him for a few minutes. I cried the whole time, at the love I felt for my beautiful son. Mr. A was on an oscillating ventilator, had an umbilical IV and an arterial line in his right arm, an I was not allowed to hold him until his fifth day of life. But I cried to look at him, out of love.

I did not feel a “completion”—a sense of “now I have my babies”, an ending to a birth story. I never really did. I suppose it truly ended 62 days later, when both of my sons were finally home from the NICU, and I was able to hold them both in my arms. It was a very long journey, but worth every minute.

The First Year

The past few days, I’ve been flooded with feelings… how do I describe it?  It’s excitement, but also a bit of shock or it might even be denial?!  You see my twins will be O-N-E in about a month.  Many of you have been there-(I loved Laura C’s post a few months ago about Birthday Emotions… I’m beginning to relate!) I can’t pinpoint the exact reason it’s so emotional for me- maybe because we have all survived a YEAR of craziness or because my precious tiny miracle babies are growing up!  It really hit me this last weekend when we went to the NICU reunion.  OH how I loved showing off my big, healthy baby girls, but it brought back a flood of emotions too. 

After a long road with infertility and IVF, we were elated to be pregnant and with TWINS- we had no idea what was in store for us!  :)  I had a normal pregnancy and never would have guessed I would have had them so early.  On September 4, 2008, I went to my scheduled perinatologist appointment.  The doctor told me/showed me that Twin B (Riley)’s blood flow was not sufficient through the umbilical cord for some reason.  She was suddenly significantly smaller than Twin A (Reese) which had never been the case before, so the dr wanted the girls and me hooked to heart monitors… to be monitored.  The nurse brought me to another room, hooked me up and just left me there.  Everything was kind of in slow motion, but I just kept thinking it would all be okay.  All I could really think about was that I hadn’t eaten and was STARVING.  While watching the print out of my babies’ heartbeats and dreaming about Chick-Fil-A, I noticed the bottom line (Riley) dropping really low.  Not good.   I suddenly realized the extent on this little “problem” when my OB walked in.  When your perinatologist calls your OB from a different office building completely, you KNOW something’s up.  Dr. H was so sweet, cool, and calm as she explained to me that it would be better for the girls if they came into the world for care due to Riley’s dipping heart rate.  And since I was only 30 weeks, we needed to deliver at a hospital with a Level 3 NICU, which meant she could not do the Emergency C-Section and I could not deliver at my hospital.  WHAT?!  Not a moment you want to experience and especially not alone! My hubby came to pick me up and bring me to the hospital.  We were so scared.

 

We got checked in (after asking directions to this unknown hospital) and I was given a steroid shot for my twins’ lung development.  We learned that with every contraction I was having (I think they were just Braxton Hicks??), Riley would get MAD and her heart rate would drop.  They gave me a shot to stop the contractions, but no such luck.  Within two hours and only 1 steroid shot in my system , Dr. Owens, whom I met minutes before, said it was time to get the girls out… at 30 weeks and 1 day.  Due to my Harrington Rods (surgery to correct scoliosis in 1995), the anesthesiologist attempted an epidural SIX places, but had no luck (QUITE painful the next day), so I was knocked out while my hubby waited outside.  Reese Abigail was born at 5:29 PM weighing 3 lbs and Riley Grace was born at 5:30 PM weighing 2 lbs 3 oz.  

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Reese when she was 3 days old

DSCF1231Riley when she was 3 days old

The NICU was amazing- the nurses were so kind, reassuring, and knowledgeable.  The doctors were amazing as well.  By the grace of God, my babies were not born with any health issues.  They had to learn to breathe outside the womb and stayed awhile in order to learn and master the “suck, swallow, breathe” reflex- eating and breathing are quite important!  So after many tears from mommy and daddy (it’s scary to see your babies so small and sad to leave them each night), bacterial infections, staph infections, blood transfusions, Riley (who was named the “feisty one”) pulling out her feeding tube at least twice a day, jaundice, weight gains and losses, and finally mastering feeding after 38 days for Reese and 55 for Riley, we were finally home with our angels: Reese 4 lbs 9 oz, Riley 3 lbs 11 oz.  I couldn’t believe that we were allowed to take them home! :)  I have to admit we were terrified.  

They’ve come a long way this year (and so have we… we kinda know what we’re doing now) and it was a joy to see those nurses and dr at the NICU Reunion, so they could see with their own eyes- the fruits of their labor!   I will never forget September 4, 2008, Reese and Riley’s birth day, as “blurry” as it feels.  It was the day my life changed forever- for the better.  As a year is approaching, I’m so thankful, have fallen more and more in love with my husband watching him with his girls, and my heart melts daily when Reese and Riley’s eyes light up when they see ME, their mama.  Their first birthday will be a CELEBRATION of how far they have come and what little miracles they are!  I guess that’s why I have been so emotional… it’s thanksgiving.  Overwhelming thanksgiving.  

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Reese when she was 309 days old (She now weighs 18 lbs)

DSC03072Riley when she was 309 days old (She now weighs 16 1/2 lbs)

The Birth Story of Sarah & Samantha – Born 12/26/06

We had a very un-eventful pregnancy from the start. I found out at 8 weeks we were having twins…not only that but i knew at 8 weeks that they were identical twins. We found out at 14 or 15 weeks that we were adding 2 more girls to the mix. My 20 week u/s was fine…i didn’t do any other genetic testing. My original due date was Jan 20th…but my dr. said right away with the being identical we’d probably do a c-section around 37 weeks…maybe 38. Every appt was just fine..i know we were very blessed to have such a great pregnancy…less the puking that seemed to go on forever. I was never put on bed rest…but i put myself on it the day i found out i was having twins! LOL! I was already a SAHM, so i remember most days just laying around most of the day and eating(how else do you fatten up two babies growing inside of your belly?). I do remember that i was very very sad that we had to cancel our SECOND trip out of town with my, then, 21 month old…we had this awesome trip planned to go to Vegas, to stay at my favorite hotel(mandalay bay) with my parents. I kept thinking i’d start feeling better and we could go anyway…that just didn’t happen. I also remember cancelling on our sitter the night of my birthday(june 12th) b/c i was SOO sick and couldn’t quit puking. We didnt’ make it back to that restaurant until just a few months ago! :)

We had a planned c-section the day after Christmas. Knowing how hard it was going to be to raise twins and a 29 month old we looked into au-pairs for some help. Julia came to us, the October before the babies were due. She was able to get settled in, i was able to get some restand Hannah(our older little girl) had a play mate. It worked out well, for a while. The girls were born the day after Christmas via c-section. It was all planned..the girls were 36w4d and weighted in at 5.7 & 5.11. The dr. wanted to take them as early as possible due to them being identical and the risk of TTS(twin to twin transfusion syndrome). Although, he was pretty sure they didn’t have it, he wasn’t 100% sure. They did end up with TTS. It was so weird b/c they were alway within ounces of each other in weight, which is a tell tale sign of TTS. The only sign they had was that Sarah had bloody purple hands & feet and was very very bright red and Samantha was as pale as a sheep. We were very thankful that he took the girls when he did, otherwise the TTS could have progressed quickly and we could have had a bad situation. Since the life of a red blood cell is 120 days…it took about 2-3 months for one baby to lighten up and the other to darken up.

The night before they were born i couldn’t sleep. Not that i could sleep very well the last two months, considering i was sleeping on the couch(it was closer to the ground and i could just roll off), but that last night was BAD. I was told not drink or eat anything after midnight, so i set the alarm clock in the living room for midnight, so i could stuff my face one last time and drink as much water as i could, before i was cut off. Sure enough, got up at midnight(i don’t even think i was sleeping anyway), had some deserts(it was xmas night, so we had tons of food in the fridge), had some food and a ton of water. AHH…much better.

We had to be at the hospital to check in at 8:00a so we got up early, packed Hannah up to go to my sisters house and left. We dropped Hannah off around 730a that morning and took the short drive over to the medical center. That was such a weird feeling…knowing when i got back in the car i’d be a mom of THREE! Oh My, was i really ready for this? We valeted the car and walked up to the 7th floor(labor and delivery). We rang in and they let us in…i got a room right away and got into my gown and the waiting began. We had lots of people coming and going…one for the dreaded IV…the one thing i have always dreaded since my first pregnancy with Hannah. Fortunately, the IV went in just fine. Then they monitered the babies…but only for about 20 minutes and everything looked fine. In between all of this, i was dying of thirst. I was begging and begging for water. I finally convinced the sweet little nurse that i HAD to have some ice chips or i was going to dehydrate soon. She argued with me and said that was what the IV was for…but i still didn’t give up. FINALLY, i sent my hubby out to beg for some ice chips…the lady brought in a cup of ice chips..but said “One at a time”. Well. little did she know that i was going to down them and beg for more. She gave me more but said…don’t blame me when you get sick. I said “i PROMISE i won’t.” LOL! Finally at 10a my dr. comes in and asks if i’m ready. Uh, YES, I’m ready! So, they came in and rolled me down to the OR. It was weird..laying on a bed and being rolled around like i was incapable of walking. Kinda fun..but made me feel helpless in a way.

The OR is weird and smells like bleach to me. It’s SOO bright and COLD! I laid on the bed while my dr. got out his handy dandy little voice machine and dictated a whole bunch of info about me(weight, age, health, date, time, etc). While all this was going on…i was lying there and Paul was getting his scrubs on. For some reason he had to wait out in the hall for a while…then they called him in as they began the procedure. So as they wheel me in to the actual OR they tell me to get off this one bed and on to another bed. WHAT? I had to pretty much roll off of one bed(the whole 200lbs + of me) and climb up the little step and up on to another bed. It was HILARIOUS and i wish it had been recorded…seeing a gigantic woman rolling from one bed to the other. What were they thinking? I crawl back up onto the other bed and the anesthesologist comes in for my epidural. A sweet nurse gets in front of me so i can lean on her(my hubby wasn’t in the room yet) so he could put the epidural in. Few pinches, some cold sensation, and it was IN! Ahh…that epidural can do some wonders. I lay back down and i remember very vividily that there was a nurse in there, really cute, young and SOOO sweet and she was talking to me the whole time. Almost to the point that i was annoyed..but she was just SOO excited…she said that she had twins that were 4 or 5..and that they she hadn’t delivered a set of twin in a while. I think most women that go down to the med center with multiples go to tx. womens b/c they have a level III NICU. The hospital i chose did not…but if there had been problems, they would have just rolled the girls right on over to Texas Childrens(through the tunnells)…so no biggie for me. Anyway, she kept talking and talking and was soo sweet. Finally, i see all these people gathering around me..and they brought my hubby in for the big moment.

First, they kept poking at me to make sure i couldn’t feel anything…they kept asking “can you feel this”…nope, just the pressure. I remember lots of pressure and tugging and i kept asking over and over “are they here yet”. My poor hubby just kept saying no…they are still cutting. Then i started to smell burning…YUCK! I guess as they cut, they carterize your skin so it doesn’t bleed so much. Then i hear the dr. say…”baby A is out”. I hear a loud SCREAM! Samatha was out. Then i feel a ton more pressure…Sarah was breech so it took a bit of pulling and tugging to get her out. Sure enough less that a minute later i hear another scream. Sarah was out! They wisked them off to get weighted and cleaned up..and i remember asking my hubby over and over…”did they look ok, did they have ten fingers and ten toes?” He said, yes they looked fine. I was a bit worried b/c i refused all the genetic testing b/c my dr. all along said that doing genetic testing on the girls could always lead to false positives and in turn lead to doing a amnio…which was not an option for me(i was only 30 & healthy).

After the babies were born they were wisked off to their little isolettes, cleaned off and checked out by the 5-6 people per baby(nurse, neo, etc). They said everything was fine and brought the babies back in while i was being stitched up. I remember this part all too well. I remember my dr. talking to another dr.(i guess there were two dr’s in the room doing the delivery..perhaps b/c of them being twins). The dr.s were talking about fishing and vacations and all sorts of fun stuff. I was thinking to myself the whole time: “are you serisous, are they seriously just chatting away while i’m ripped open, probably bleeding to death.” Ok kinda dramatic…but it was kinda funny. Here you are, laying on a table…just had two babies, there is blood everywhere and your insides are laying on the table and the dr’s are just chatting away about life. FUNNY! Then the nurses brought the babies back in…everything was fine. The nurse hands one to Paul…he brings her over to me to see…AHHH..relief…she is precious! Then she tries to hand the other one to me. WHAT? IS SHE CRAZY…i’m being stitched up and i’m totally out of it. I looked at her and said, “i can’t hold her i’ll drop her!” The sweet anestheologist said, “can i hold her for you?” I said, “Sure, because i can’t hold a baby right now.” So he held her for me and i just looked on…antoher precious baby. TWO babies…still amazes me today!! I just laid on the table and cried…and i have to say, i saw a tear or two in my hubbies eyes too(sorry hunny, i know i’ve just embarassed you b/c men don’t cry)! :)

Then they roll me into recovery. I was shaking and shaking. I was freezing and feeling REALLY bad. Paul went with the girls over to the nursery and then to my room to call everyone, so he wasn’t with me at all. I kept telling them..i NEED more covers. I think they may have put 5 or 6 of those warmed(in a big oven) blankets on me to keep me warm. I was furiously shaking and then it hit me. I was trying and trying to cough. I DID tell the dr. before the surgery that i still had the cough i had had for 2 months before the babies were born. He kept giving me meds..they just didn’t work. Anyway, the nurse in recovery said “you CAN’T cough!” “You will pop your stitches out.” I just nodded as i had to cough soo bad and i kept trying but i was so out of it, nothing would come out. Finally the lady went and told someone and came back with the MIRACLE “stop coughing” drug. I don’t know what they gave me…but i didn’t have to cough at ALL after that shot. AMAZING. Oh, but then came the puking. This is where the ice chips came in…all of a sudden, laying there, i kept trying to talk and tell them i felt something coming up. I was just about to puke all over myself and the nurse came running with a little puke pan and shoved it against my chin, as i puked and puked. Thank goodness for the puke pan…otherwise i would have been covered in puke…thanks to the ice chips i probably shouldn’t have eaten. I have to say, laying in the recovery room was so peaceful. Weird, but peaceful. You get to just lay there and do nothing. People are watching you…but you can nod off…sleep, dream about laying on a beach in a bikini, do whatever you want to do for a whole hour or two. It was weird..but nice and quiet!

I think i finally got up to my room that day at 12noon or a little after. Then almost immediately they rolled the girls into my room. Again, OMG, there’s TWO of them. It hit me again…i was looking at these two precious babies…soo amazing. I had a feeling of being over whelmed. A good feeling….but i was still in disbelief of the whole twin thing…until i saw them both after the drugs had all worn off. They were beautiful..and soo tiny compared to Hannah who weight 7.4 lbs at birth!

Getting out of bed after getting back from recovery was bad. Now, again, i had gained 65lbs this pregnancy so i wasn’t one of those moms that just bounced back and lost the weight. I gained TONS and TONS of water weight from the IV. I have ONE pic of myself in the bed and a few of me holding the babies after the c-section that no one will EVER see till i die! LOL! I looked horrible. So, getting back to getting out of bed. Yeah, that was funny. I was sooo scared to move…and it hurt so bad i was pressing the button every 15 minutes for more meds. I don’t even know if they helped or not b/c the pain was still bad…but it was worth a try. I finally got out of bed that evening and walked like 10 steps and back. Progressively it got easier…but the first few days were really bad. I think they last day i was there(Friday), Paul & I took the babies for a whole lap around the maternity ward…with the babies in tow. THAT was our first day of feeling like a rock star. EVERYONE out in the hallways were talking about us and stopping us to see the babies. THAT was the first day, of the comments that will go on, until my girls are old enough to be individuals and try to not look alike…as i know i will face one day, probably when one child comes home with blue hair and purple nails! LOL It was amazing how many people walking to other peoples rooms looked on as we each pushed a baby down the hall. I was so proud of myself. I did it…i made two precious babies…and i got to keep BOTH of them and take them home with me.

As we were leaving the hospital that same day everyone we passed was staring at me. One poor lady was so nosey she came right up to me and told me her story(i don’t even remember it now), but just stood by me as i waited for the valet to bring our car around and just stood there and stared at my babies…one in each arm! (yes, that is really me…with cankles and so swollen i could hardly fit into my twin pregnancy clothes)!

The girls were able to come home from the hospital with us and while we were in the hospital we were very lucky to have my sister(who has a daughter that is 3 months younger than mine) keep Hannah. The best part was that she actually lived right across the street from the hospital and would drop Hannah off downstairs a few times a day to come see the girls.

Since i have been on both sides of the spectrum with a vaginal delivery with Hannah and c-section with the girls…i’m going to say that their are pros and cons to both. Hannah actually ended up breaking my tail bone b/c she was in my birth canal for soo long. I had to go to a spine dr. who gave me some anit inflamatories and pain pills but would not operate due to infection. It still, till this day, hurts when i sit on something hard. The C-section was awesome…i didn’t feel a lick of pain, but the staples annoyed me afterwards & I think it hurt pretty bad and was very itchy. Of course, i will always have a “battle scar”, but it’s turned out well b/c when Hannah asks how the babies came out i can show her my scar and not go any further into details.

When we came home from the hospital we had a nightmare on our hands. We had been in the process of remodeling our new home(but the bathroom add on was the major mess left) and the contractor had been acting kinda fishy prior to us leaving to the hospital. He wanted extra money and came in and showed us all the great things he was going to do to the semi-added on bathroom. He wanted an extra 5 grand and we finally agreed on 3 grand the day before christmas. WHAT A MESS! We came home to our bedroom opened up to all the elements outside…no nursery, the house was a mess & our contractor wouldn’t answer his phone and disappeared. It was cold outside and the bedroom wasn’t even closed in….the bathroom didn’t have sheet rock…we could see outside from our bedroom. We had to play musical bedrooms…and the whole ordeal was a nightmare! That is definitely a part of my birth story and coming home from the hospital that i really hope to forget one day. I just know karma will come back to bite that bad man in the keister for what he did to us. A mom always dreams about bringing their babies home to a beautiful nursery full of stuff…we brought them home to a pack n play and no cribs in sight as we were in the middle of such a huge mess that had been going on since Sept. The humorous part of this whole ordeal was that we thought as pay back we’d call the bad man everytime we got up to feed the girls in the middle of the night(12,1,2,3,4am). Of course he didn’t answer…but his phone was on b/c it rang. It really makes for some good humor in the middle of the night when your sleep deprived and freezing due to the big hole in the wall in the bedroom next door! :) I can laugh at it now…i guess if it’s the worst part of my birth story…it wasn’t that bad. My babies were healthy and that was always #1 on my list.

We had Julia stay with us through June and after that i was on my own. As much of a pain it was having a foreign person stay in your house, eat your food, party till all hours of the morning and just totally annoy you, Julia was a life saver since i didn’t have family that could come over and help on a daily basis. In all reality, i probably could have done it with just the twins…but Hannah needed a playmate. She needed someone to play with, someone to color with and someone to take her outside to get fresh air. In June, i fired Julia and took over. It was hard for a while…but you do what you have to, to make things work. Paul started taking Hannah back to MDO(mothers day out) and i kept the girls with me on those day. We didn’t get out and do much…but we did do a TON of walking up and down the street with the girls. Looking back…i just did what i could to keep my head above water. We had interviewed a few people after i fired Julia. BUT thinking about it…i decided it was easier for me to just do it on my own and not have anyone invading my space. I still feel like i made the right decision! And after Julia left i just had this feeling of peace come over me. Like i was able to get up and walk around in my pj’s all day…not brush my teeth if i didn’t want to…and not have to worry about another mouth to feed since she coudn’t cook for the life of her.

I can’t say this road has been smooth sailing for us the entire 17 months…we’ve had some bumps along the way, lots of colic and crying babies, sick babies, and sometimes i even felt like i had a touch of PPD…but the extent of my PPD was crying and telling my hubby a couple of times how much i hated my life(as my babies were crying and i was on the floor crying with them b/c i didn’t know what else to do for them). That is definitely all over with now.

Now that my girls are 17 months old…it’s a breeze. I still have some issues taking them all out together but it’s just a learning process. You learn what’s easy and what’s not so easy and you adjust your life.

My girls a few days after delivery, Hannah was 29 months!

My girls at 17 months & Hannah will be 4, August 1st!

No surprises

Compared to the other ladies at HDYDI, I’d say my birth story is, well..a bit boring.  Not that the birth of our sons, Finn and Reid, were anything but boring.  Because it was, hands down, the most memorable day in my life thus far.  But, there were no surprises on their actual birth day.  We came into the hospital that afternoon knowing full well that births (especially multiple births) rarely go as planned.  But, to our surprise…there were no surprises!  I arrived on time, the doctors arrived on time, the C-section went without a hitch, and the boys did just as well as our OB hoped they’d do.  I’d even scored the room on the Mother/Baby Unit that the nurses, for the past 4 months, had been saying they’d save for their “twin mama”. 

 

However, in the spirit of Birth Story Week here at HDYDI, I’ll tell you the nitty  gritty.  Even though I really think that it could just be summed up like this: “Two babies.  Bothbreech.  One diagnosed with IUGR.  Two Grade 3 placentas.  One scheduled C-section.  Two happy parents.” But, that wouldn’t be as much fun, now would it?  After all…who doesn’t like telling the story about the day that changed your life forever and made your heart swell with love, joy and pride?

 

Some background info

Both of the boys had been in a breech position since week 28.  At the 32 week mark, my OB said that the likelihood of Baby A transitioning into a vertex position was very low.  It was then that he dropped the C-bomb.  I had been planning a natural delivery since Day 1…no drugs, lots of deep breathing, visualizations, peaceful music, a belly dancer (kidding on that one)…you know, the whole nine yards.  Well, that went right out the window during the office visit.  It took some time and contemplation to come to terms with the surgery, but I eventually took comfort in the fact that I knew (approximately) when these babies were going to be born (my OB would not let me go into hard labor).  I was especially glad to know that I would most definitely not be pregnant forever.  As much as I didn’t believe it. 

 

At week 34, a 25% discrepancy in weight between Baby A and Baby B was found.  It was decided that we’d wait another week and, if the weights didn’t equalize, the boys were going to be born no later than 36 weeks.  Another issue that was uncovered at the 34-week mark was the deterioration of my placentas.  It was determined that both placentas had enough calcification to be deemed Grade 3.  There was certainly time, but not much, before these puppies were going to cease supplying nutrients to our babes.  Not a good thing.

 

At 35 weeks, there was still a weight discrepancy, and Baby B (Reid) was diagnosed with Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), so we knew that they were going to be born one week from that day.  However, I wanted to deliver at a hospital that was not equipped to handle babies with major breathing issues.  So, I was required to have an amniocentesis to determine lung maturity.  This was scheduled for January 25th at 8:00am.  My due date was February 26th, 2007.  Finn and Reid were born on January 26th, 2007…exactly 36 weeks.

 

I know this is a ‘birth story’ and not a ‘pre-birth story’, but I must mention something about the amnio.  It was beyond strange!  The only way I can describe it would be the sensation of being uncorked.  I felt like a bottle of wine that someone was decorking.  The pressure was intense, but the feeling was just plain weird. 

 

Regardless, after delivering the test tube of fluid in which surrounded my children to the laboratory, I was driven to the hospital to undergo my daily Non-Stress Test.  I was having some serious contractions, so they checked me.  I was still holding steady (from the morning ‘check’) at 2cm and 75% effacement so they released me after a couple of hours.  When a baby (or babies) is breech, there is risk of a prolapsed umbilical cord.  This is a obstetric emergency with a 11-17% mortality rate.  High enough that you don’t want to chance it.  And the more I was dilated, the more dangerous it was to send me home.  But fortunately, I hadn’t had any cervical change in almost 3 days.  Either way, I was to spend the next 36 hours doing nothing.  This was no easy task for someone who hates sitting still and furthermore, had a lot of stuff to do before becoming a parent!

 

Birth day

Fast forward to Friday, January 26that 3pm.  I showed up at the hospital, thirsty and starving, wearing the one and only outfit that still fit.  My husband and I were loaded down with our backpacks, pillows, Boppy, breast pump and diaper bag.  I got dressed in the hospital gown, took a dose of some crazy concoction to settle my stomach, got my IV and was hooked up to the fetal monitors.  The boys were very active and I was having some wicked contractions.  I think the boys knew that something was up because they were more active than they’d ever been.  Either way, after experiencing the contractions I was more than a little relieved that I had an automatic ‘out’ for having to deliver naturally.  Let’s just say I was very happy when the anesthesiologist strolled in.

 

After signing my life away on stacks and stacks of paper work, I had my father-in-law take a few pictures, one of which highlighted my cankles.  canklesbellyI felt like a big water-logged rubber ducky.  And, you can see by the extremely unflattering photographs, that I also looked like one.  After a few camera clicks, the nurses asked everyone to leave the room (including my husband, which I was surprised by).  I was asked if I needed something for anxiety (I declined, surprising even myself) and then told that it was time to be shaved.  For some reason, I didn’t even think that they would have to shave me.  Down There.  But, I guess it does make sense, after all.  :) The shaving experience reminded me of the time when I had the not-so-good idea to dry-shave my under arms one morning in 10th grade because I really wanted to wear my favorite tank top to show off my tan.  Yah.  Bad idea.  If I could do it again, I think I’d get a Brazilian wax done beforehand and call it a day.  It’s not comfortable and the nurses are anything but careful. 

 

After the shave, it was time to head into the OR.  I did a few stretches because I knew that I wouldn’t be on my feet for quite a few hours.

 

As I exited my room, I was greeted by my regular OB, my mom (she’d flown in from Oregon that morning), my in-laws and my husband.  I gave them all one last pre-motherhood hug and told them that I’d see them in a few.  Brook would follow me into the OR once my spinal was in place. 

 

It seemed that from the moment I entered the OR, I just could not stop shivering.  I know this is normally a side effect of the anesthesia, but I hadn’t even got up on the table yet.  I think it was just my nerves.  The thought of me being cut open (while awake!) was a bit much for me at that point in time.  I kept shivering and my teeth kept chattering as I laid on the table.  The anesthesiologist told me that I was going to have to stop shivering before he could put the spinal in–you know, that whole ‘precision’ thing.  I tried, but I couldn’t, so one of the lovely nurses gave me a warm blanket and that did the trick. 

 

The anesthesiologist sat me up and explained the procedure.  A nurse was in front of me to lean on as I hunched over and she also helped to quell my nervousness witha hand massage.  It would have been nice to have my husband there during the spinal, but I realize this isn’t procedure.  As the anesthesia entered my body, it felt as if someone dripped a cool, thick liquid slowly down my back.  By the time she laid me back down, I was numb.  The feeling of knowing that your body IS there, but not having any control of it from the sternum down, is classified as ‘creepy’ in my book.  Just for fun, I tried to pick my leg up, asking a nurse if, indeed, I had picked it up (she said, “nada!”), and then laughing because of the weird-ness of it all.

 

When I was fully numb and settled, they let my husband into the room.  He was told to sit to my left.  I remember him holding my hand, being comforted by his touch, and thinking, that in a few minutes, we were going to be responsible for two tiny little human beings when I barely even felt grown up myself. 

 

Let the show begin

With all 10 ‘team members’ in place, my OB said they were going to go nice and slow…that they weren’t in a hurry, so to just relax.  All I was concentrating on was whether or not I heard a baby crying.  I made him promise to clearly tell me when each baby was out. 

 

At 4:01 pm, they broke Baby A’s (Finn) amniotic sac.  On the video my husband shot it took precisely 1 minute and 11 seconds of tugging to get Finn out.  His brother and he were wedged in there.  Tight.  I don’t have to go over the, ummm, pressure that you feel as one surgeon is pulling a kid out, while the assisting surgeon is pushing on your stomach like he’s kneading a huge hunk of bread dough, because that was already covered in the other HDYDI  birth stories.  But I will reiterate that, yes.  It is in.freaking.tense.  I found myself making grunting noises as I was being pulled and pushed around.

 

At 4:02pm, Finn Andrew finallyenters the world, feet first (weighing 5 lbs, 6 oz.), after what seems like eons of them pulling, poking, tugging and pushing to get him lodged out from underneath his bro.  “Baby A, 4:02pm”, my OB says.  He doesn’t cry.  They suction him.  He still doesn’t cry.  The OB cuts the cord, hands him quickly to the nurse, who wraps him in a towel and gives me a very quick half-second glimpse of my first born son, and then hands him through a window that lead into the NICU.  I was scared to death that he wasn’t crying.  I’d watched enough Discovery Health to know that you want a baby to cry.  Crying is good.  Crying means the baby is breathing.  Finn was not crying.  I tried to stay calm, with the help and reassurance of Brook and the anesthesiologist, because I still had one baby left inside of me. 

 

At 4:03pm, they break Baby B’s (Reid) amniotic sac and he pops right out feet first…screaming!!  It was the sweetest sound I had ever heard.  I cried and laughed all at the same time.  For whatever reason though, they didn’t let me see the little guy.  He was the one they were worried about (though he was a plump 4 lbs, 11 oz.), so he was quickly wrapped and shoved into the NICUwindow with Brook on the nurses heals.  Once I heard Reid cry and then about 30 seconds later, the distant cry of Finn (finally!), I relaxed and settled into a post-birth happy/exhausted state as my OB started singing something in Russian.  I drifted in and out of this state of mind as Brook snapped a few photos and some video and came back to show me our new sons.  I asked him if they were okay about 1,000 times, in between gushing over the pictures and videos that were taken minutes before.    But truth be told, I really, really, just wanted a nap. 

 

I was given a shot of Demerol and, man, did this make me loopy!  The next thing I know, I’m in the recovery room being handed a cell phone.  It was my dad.  I really just wanted him to be there.  I didn’t want to talk to him on the cell phone.  I wanted him by my bedside, so he could give me a hug and tell me that I was going to be okay at this whole mom-thing.Gotta love the drugs

I was a mess.  I felt drunk.  I felt stoned.  I felt…not like a mom should feel.  I kept questioning my ability to care for two newborns.  Telling myself that I was already a bad mom.  It was horrid.  The nurses assured me that this was just a side effect of the Demerol and that I should just try to sleep.  I tried, but I couldn’t.  I was too full of emotion and, being that I had not drank anything for nearly 13 hours, I was exceptionally thirsty.  I begged the nurse for some ice chips.  When she brought me the cup full of icy bliss, I instantly felt better and my spirits were lifted.

 

While I was in recovery, Brook was still going back and forth between myself and the NICU…bringing me more photos and videos of the boys.  I couldn’t wait to get a good look at them, but I had to keep waiting…not exactly sure what for…but the waiting felt like a lifetime.  So, I tried to get a few winks in between the nurses poking and prodding me.

 

FINALLY!  It was time to meet my little ones.  The nurses were going to wheel me into the NICU prior to heading to my room in the Mother/Baby Unit.  When I was rolled in, they brought Reid over to Finn’s warmer.  The two of them together.  It was beautiful.  It was surreal.  I tried to touch them, but I couldn’t get as close as I would have liked.

 mama meets the boysThe NICU nurses said that they were doing great and that I’d be able to hold them within the hour.  I was then wheeled to my post-partum room where I again nodded off.  That was, until my husband decided that what I really could use right then was a stuffed monkey.  There were only two monkeys that I wanted to see…and neither of them were stuffed.

  Monkey

 

At 6:32pm, I was able to hold both of my babies for the first time.  It was pure love.  Times two.

double the love

I managed to breastfeed both of the boys and they seemed to do okay for 36-weekers.  It did, however, take forever for them to latch on and, once latched, they immediately fell asleep.  This was only the beginning of our breastfeeding saga, but we’ll save that for another day.  Although the boys were doing well, they did have a bit of a problem regulating their body heat, so they were constantly being whisked away to the nursery for check-ups.  In between check-ups though, we did a lot of staring.  Staring in awe of the two little miracles that we had created. 

brothers

 

Around 7pm, I was having some very intense pain.  I can normally tolerate pain fairly  well, but this…this was bad.  The nurses figured out that something wasn’t quite right when I answered “11″ to their question on my pain level on a scale of 1 to 10.  I had said it was a “2″ less than 20 minutes prior.  I was restless and agitated.  I kept hitting the button for more morphine, but it clearly was not working.  So a call to my OB was made and, within 20 minutes, I was given another (magnificent) cocktail that took my pain level back down to a “2″.  After that, it was alllll good. 

 

That night, it was a mix of visitors, phone calls, never-ending breastfeeding and cups and cups of (ahhhh...) water.  I felt as if I couldn’t get enough water.  And the best part about drinking all of this water was that I didn’t have to get up to go to the bathroom because I had the catheter!  I remember being hungry, but not really wanting to eat.  Although, as a side note, this all changed the next morning when I felt as if I would never be able to consume enough food.  I would order sandwiches to my room in the middle of the night and check the “hearty” portion on my room service menu.  I don’t remember ever being more hungry in my entire life as I was the first two weeks post-partum.  I guess making milk (or colostrum, rather) for two babies is hard work!

 

Something that I was not at all prepared for was the swelling that came post C-section.  Admittedly, I gained a lot of weight.  More weight than I should have.  And for someone who is 5′ 3″ tall (on a good day), add another 70 pounds to your body and it’s bound to protest.  My body protested by giving  me a horrible case of carpal tunnel syndrome.  Throughout my pregnancy, sure, I had my share of uncomfortableness and sleepless nights.  But nothing compared to the immense pain, numbness and tingling in my hands.  I couldn’t grip a pencil, let alone type on the computer all day for work purposes.  The nights were even worse.  I’d sleep withbraces on bothwrists and prop them up on pillows.  I’d watch what I ate, careful not to consume too much sodium (i.e. my most favorite Mexican food meal…it was a shame), as that just made the water retention even worse, which in turn aggravated the carpal tunnel syndrome.  I spent the better half of my pregnancy worrying about whether or not this would disappear after I gave birth. 

 

The night that Finn and Reid were born, I was graced with the worst pain, numbness and tingling I had yet experienced.  I felt uncomfortable even holding a baby because I couldn’t feel whether or not I had a good grip on the little guy.  Sleeping was out of the question because the medsthat I was taking for the post-surgical pain did not help the least bit withthepainfrom the carpal tunnel syndrome.  The nurse promised me that it would be better in the morning, that after the birth of a baby (or two), your body holds onto water like an industrial-strength sponge.  It was a rough night, but I made it (thanks to many, many ice packs covering my hands and wrists!).  And the next day, after getting up to walk, the swelling was considerably better.  However, it wasn’t until 6 weeks post-partum that I had the sensation back in the majority of my fingers again.  I am very thankful that I do not live with this on a day-to-day basis anymore.

 

Walking around the maternity ward, in between breastfeeding sessions, was my saving grace for a fast recovery.  Although the nurses and doctors advised me to slow down, I really felt that the more I moved, the better I felt.  If I didn’t have one or more kids attached to my boobs, I was out walking laps around the ward…often times pushing a couple of bassinets.  I went very, very slowy…but it was movement nonetheless.  I found that the Percoset they were giving me (after removing the Morphine drip) was making me tired and unable to focus.  I was having such a hard time withbreastfeedingas it was, I didn’t need the added complication of drug side-effects to make it even more difficult.  So, I told them to give me half of a dose.  I found that this was a good amount to limit my pain, as well as keep me aware of it so that I wouldn’t over-do it when I walked.  I was discharged from the hospital with a prescription of Percoset, but I never did end up taking it after the second day of being discharged.  I relied on regular doses of Motrin.  The twice-daily (very slow) walks around the neighborhood really helped aid in my recovery.  It’s important to stay on top of your pain management, but it’s also very helpful to move as soon as you are able.   

 

Wow!  For a “boring” birth story, this sure is a lot of writing.  And the life that I have right now is certainly anything but boring!

lots of energy

Easter 2007: Birth Story

It took me a long time to get pregnant. When I finally did, my doctor was quick to point out to me all the possible issues that can be associated with a twin pregnancy; gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, preterm birth. Really, she was a bit of a downer. I spent a decent amount of my pregnancy thinking about how I would manage with preemie babies. And then, I passed the 30 week mark, and the 32 week mark and the 34 week mark. By the time I got to 36 weeks, I was thinking those babies would never arrive. Seriously, I hadn’t even had a contraction. Not one! And then, two days later, my water broke in the middle of the night. Off we went to the hospital to have those babies! I STILL didn’t have any contractions until after I got to the hospital.Abigail, a few hours old

Baby A (Danny) had been vertex and Baby B (Abigail) had been transverse since about 24 weeks (they kept saying they could move—and the babies never did) so they gave me the choice of a C section versus vaginal birth. Huh. I was not really ready for that kind of choice at 3am. We chose Option #2, the vaginal bith, and then, 18 hours later, changed our minds and went for the C section. What happened in between was not so fun and involved stalled labor, some epidural issues, a fever and some really strong wishing that I had picked Option #1. The details don’t really matter–and honestly, I don’t remember a bunch of it– the summary of it is: we had two healthy babies. I was ok (as ok as you can be after abdominal surgery) and the babies were ok. They were born at 9:05pm and 9:06pm on Easter evening. Danny came first, at 19 inches and 6lbs 6oz. Abigail was second, and not as ready as Danny–they had to break her water before getting her out and she was kind of blueish, with a lower APGAR score than Danny. The doctors said that sometimes the second baby, who is not as engaged in the labor, is not as prepared for the birth. She was 18.5 inches, 5lbs 15oz. I wasn’t able to see them that night because they were struggling a bit at first and needed to be monitored in the step-down nursery, but by 7am the next morning, they were hanging out with me & Seth in my hospital room. After that time in the nursery, they were able to room in with us.Danny, a few hours old

I thought I would summarize what I learned from the whole experience:

1. They will offer you the choice of c section versus vaginal. I really wish I had just picked that c section at 3am, but you never know what’s going to happen. Lots of women have twins vaginally with no issues. But, be ready for that choice. And, if you want to change your mind later on, you’re allowed. They don’t really tell you this, but you can push for the c section. I did, although eventually the OB pushed for it too–once she realized I wasn’t progressing past 9 cm.

2. It’s really a pretty medicalized process. I don’t mind doctors or hospitals, but it was not that pretty picture from tv. Really not. A lot more doctors (or residents) and A LOT of people messing with stuff down there. In the OR, there will be a ton of people. Maybe 18 or so were in ours–people for me, people for the babies, I swear there were even a couple of tourists who wandered by. Ok, maybe not, but it felt like a lot of people. And, they kind of ignore you and go about their business.

3. C sections really aren’t that bad. I’d heard a lot of hype (“it feels like your intestines are going to fall out”) but while it hurt, it hurt a lot less than labor. And the pain meds work. The recovery was really pretty good for me. I know some people struggle with it, but it was no where near as bad as I was expecting. However, tell your husband (or whoever is there with you) NOT to look over the sheet. There is much more of you on display (and out of your body) than should EVER be there. He does not need that image of you.

4. There is not a lot of help in the hospital for breastfeeding, especially breastfeeding twins. (This may be different for other hospitals). Talk to your pediatrician when you leave the hospital to see how the babies are doing. Mine was fine with their eating because they started gaining weight at day 6. Ready to leave the hospital

5. If you have a c section, you really need the other parent in the room with you to take care of the babies. Getting in and out of bed was quite challenging (and I think fairly funny to watch). And, there are two of them. I think Seth had some fantasy of sleeping at home in his own bed. Yeah, not gonna happen. The one day he had to go home for a few hours (we were there Saturday to Friday), I had to get my mother-in-law to come in and help me with the babies. Those first few days I just wasn’t up to double baby duty.

6. Although I didn’t have any trouble with postpartum depression, lots of women do. Several risk factors apply to many of us moms of twins (or more!); 1) Having multiples 2) Using IVF 3) Having a birth experience that is traumatic or unexpectedly bad (baby in the NICU, medical issues during C section, scary moments for mom or baby). It’s not to scare any of the pregnant moms (I had all three risk factors and did fine) but it’s always good to know what to watch out for, so you can catch any sign of PPD early and be aggressive in addressing it. Because taking care of newborn twins is hard enough—you don’t need to be dealing with full-blown PPD at the same time.

7. On a less serious note, Goddess in Progress mentioned being wary of the photos you convince your husband to take while high on the anti-pain cocktail they give you. I would also caution against “drunk dialing” various family and friends once you come out of surgery but are still wacked out on drugs (and you really will be, if they give you the good stuff). Yeah, I still haven’t lived down the phone calls I made to friends and family—at midnight on Easter Sunday. “It’s not so late, honey, they won’t mind me calling!” My brother still cracks up remembering what an idiot I sounded like (as I think he described it, as if I were 8 tequila shots in to a night out on the town—I wish! It wasn’t that fun, really). Seriously, wait until the next morning, or assign this task to hubby.

It’s hard to imagine that Danny at 13 monthswas over a year ago. The one thing I learned from this is that no matter what the birth experience is like, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the little guys who come home with you, and the fun (and exhaustion) of watching them grow and develop. Check out how much they’ve grown in the past year! Abigail at 13 months

LauraC: 3 months of bed rest, emergency c-section, and one week in the NICU

On the morning of Tuesday, May 16, 2006 I had an ultrasound to check weights. Baby A was vertex, but Baby B was breech and bigger and this usually means an automatic c-section. The last ultrasound found Baby A’s amniotic fluid was so low I was getting sent to the hospital for an emergency c-section. Baby A’s sac had been ruptured for 3 days.

I had multiple bouts of pre-term labor throughout the second half of my pregnancy. I was on limited activity from 21 weeks until I delivered at 36w, 3d. From 32 weeks on, I had contractions… real contractions.. every 15 minutes. I always say there is a special place in heaven for multiple moms. At 36 weeks, I stopped taking terbutaline and felt a huge gush. L&D found nothing wrong, but the ultrasound 3 days later confirmed one of the sacs did rupture.

Once at the hospital, the whole term “emergency” went right out the window. I had eaten at 11AM so they scheduled my c-section for 7PM. In the six hours we were in L&D, my labor was steadily progressing. By the time they wheeled me to the OR, my contractions were 90 seconds apart and lasting a minute. I was ready for my epidural and ready for my babies!

From talking to other moms who had c-sections, I knew the worst part was going to be the pressure I would feel when they took out baby A (Alex). The pressure was UNBELIEVABLE. Let me repeat – UNBELIEVABLE! After they took Alex (6lbs, 1oz) out, I could feel Nate slipping around in all that extra room. I really thought I was going to puke. The only thing keeping me going was knowing my babies were ok. They took Nate (6lb 3oz) out one minute later.

Jon and I agreed he would leave me to be with the babies. I started to feel the epidural creep up and numb my diaphragm, which sent me into a panic. I immediately told the doctors and they talked me through it while they adjusted my medicine. The boys were brought to me swaddled up for a quick kiss then whisked away. Their chests were caving in when they breathed so they needed to go the NICU for monitoring.

When I went to recovery, I sent Jon to the NICU so one of us would be with the boys. I sat all alone in the recovery room with a nurse. Rationally, I knew the boys needed medical attention but it was really hard to be alone at a time most people are celebrating and enjoying their little babies. I thought if I made it to 36+ weeks and they were both over 6 lbs, everything would be fine.

The next week was a blur, which was a blessing. Two years later, it is still hard to think about without crying. There were so many hard moments. One night, we were not allowed into the NICU because another baby was in crisis. As I laid in bed, I  felt my organs shifting around, which is common after a c-section. It felt like babies moving around – my babies who I could not see, touch, feel or be near. I cried buckets.

The week at the hospital was an emotional roller coaster. I cried whenever a doctor told us they didn’t know when the boys would leave. I laughed because I thought Alex looked like a smurf in his NICU hat. I cheered when we got Nate to breastfeed. I’d panic wondering what  we were going to do with two babies. I’d seethe with anger and hatred when I saw parents sending their babies to the nursery. I cried when a candy striper came to give me a knitted baby hat and I had to tell her I had twins so I needed a second hat but they were in the NICU.

The night I got discharged from the hospital, the boys were not discharged. The doctors had no idea when they would be well enough to come home. I walked through my house crying, seeing everything we had done to prepare for two babies. I was at home, no longer pregnant, yet my babies were not home. It was the worst day of my life. I could not have made it through that night without my husband, my rock.

What made it hard for me was the fear. It was scary that my children were so sick they needed to be monitored by professionals 24 hours a day. It was scary when I unswaddled Alex for 20 minutes to be fed and his body temperature dropped low enough they had to put him in a warmer. It was scary to me that if we did not set an alarm to wake up and feed the kids, they would sleep until they died. Because of my experience, I hate hearing the words “standard weight/feeding issues” when discussing sorta-preemies. I don’t like that these feelings are standard for anyone.

The boys got discharged when they both kept weight on for 24 hours, one week after birth. I had no complications from the c-section with the exception of an incredibly large, ugly scar that is still red and raised. Most days, this experience makes me a better parent. Whenever I’ve had a tough day of double tantrums and no sleep, I think, “At least Nate is breathing on his own and Alex’s skin isn’t hanging off  him.” It has helped put this entire twin parenting thing in perspective. But some days, I still mourn never having that “normal” newborn experience.

laurac

I never felt ready to write my birth story because I am an eternal optimist. I like to focus on the positive. Sure, there were many positive NICU moments like seeing tiny fingers and toes, but for me, the “real” newborn experience started once we were home and I knew the boys were ok. I had to let go of all my worry and fear to finally enjoy my babies.

Josh and Nate – The Birth Story

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.

Me and my belts

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.”

Ohmigod.

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.

Me and Dr. Loverboy

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.

The Cast of Thousands

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!

Mommy, Daddy and the Brudders