No surprises

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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

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The Never Ending Pregnancy

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I hardly know where to start with this post…there are so many thoughts swirling around in my head regarding the birth of Jonathan and Faith. But first, I think you need a little background info.

Due to infertility treatments, I knew I was pregnant with two babies almost immediately. And as soon as I could, I got my hands on some “Twin Books” and started reading. And planning. And hoping.

I had a very healthy pregnancy, but it certainly wasn’t pain-free! I had joint pain, nerve pain, growth pain and skin pain. Basically, anything that could hurt, did! But amazingly, it didn’t slow me down too much, until I hit about 31-32 weeks. At a routine ultrasound, the tech thought that she could see my cervix shortening. My OB placed me on modified bed-rest (lay around as much as possible), and so I did my best to comply. Around 34 weeks, the doctor realized that my cervix was strong and not shortening at all, so she lifted my restrictions. Apparently, the tech made a mistake, and I never had had any issues with pre-term labor.

The entire time I was pregnant, I agonized over the method of delivery. Over and over I said, “I just don’t want to do both.” The babies were constantly changing positions, but at 33 weeks, they switched to vertex/vertex. And at 36 weeks, they were back to breech/transverse, with enough fluid to move again. It was driving me CRAZY! I am a planner, and I wanted to just plan what we were doing, and have time to mentally prepare.

At 36w5d, I started having contractions. After a few hours of mild contractions every 5-6 minutes, we went to Triage to be evaluated. By the time we were in triage, hooked up to a bunch of machines (3 monitors, bp cuff and pulse ox) they were every 3 minutes, on the nose! We were getting pretty excited!

I wasn’t in any pain, just uncomfortable. The exams stunk, of course, but the doctors and nurses were all nice. Technically, I was still pre-term, so they gave me a shot of trebutaline to see if it would halt the contractions. It didn’t, but I did feel like I just drank a lot of coffee or finished a hard workout. Very shaky.

Next, I had to drink a liter of water, so see if that would stop the contractions. It didn’t. All of this was to see if I was in actual labor or not. Well, the deciding factor is cervical change, and mine wasn’t! So home we went! It was mentally very discouraging to think I was going to be not-pregnant soon, and then be sent home!

The doctors told me to come back when I was in hard labor or if my water broke. I was so overwhelmed when they told me I would have to go into HARD labor before they would do my c-section (they were still breech/transverse). That just did not seem fair!

Day after day, I plodded along. Even though I couldn’t sleep, and had a lot of pain, I was able to do a lot of things. I was huge and cumbersome, but once I was given the all-clear, I resumed cleaning, laundry and other chores.

Finally, the doctors scheduled my c-section for May 15th, 2007. As 39 weeks pregnant, I walked into the hospital hugely pregnant, and walked out a Mama! I was incredibly nervous about the surgery, but even more so the epidural. I was so nervous, that I couldn’t walk myself to the OR. I was shaking too badly, so they took me in a wheel chair. Once in the OR, any sense of dignity flew out the window. I had already been shaved with a dull razor, and barely had any clothes on. Then I was asked to haul my giant self up onto the table, gown flapping open. The male anesthesiologists prepped me for my spinal, and it wasn’t fun. First of all, they asked me to sit cross-legged on a board the same width as a piece of paper! And on TV, a kind nurse holds your hand/head, but I was on my own. The numbing medicine hurt like hell, and they had to try several times to place the actual spinal. I know I was moaning by the end, but later realized that I had just been a guinea pig for a student doctor.

They laid me down quickly, as I was rapidly losing sensation in my lower half. They pinched me, and I felt it, and then I was totally numb. The next day, I had big bruises and sore spots where they pinched me with their instruments. At this point, they inserted my catheter, prepped my belly and brought my husband in. They started the surgery, and kept the draped close to my face, and didn’t allow my husband to peek. I heard all sorts of things, felt tugging sensations, but was strangely removed from the situation. When they delivered my son, they held him up over the drape, and I shied away from him because he was dripping globs of blood! My daughter was quickly delivered, but I don’t remember seeing her. My husband says they did show her to me. All I remember is hearing the doctor tell the anesthesiologist to start another IV, and I was rather focused on what was happening to me. They asked my husband to leave, and began working on me. I was losing a lot of blood, and my uterus wasn’t clamping down quickly. I heard this strange thud over and over, and I still don’t know what that was. Eventually, the resident finished fixing me up, but told me she wrenched her shoulder as she never had to work that hard to help a uterus clamp down before. My regular OB left before my surgery was completed, as she had to deliver another baby. Before she left, she did say that she though Jonathan and Faith were the biggest twins she had ever delivered at 7.12 and 6.12.

When the OR team was done with me, they asked me if I wanted to hold the kids on the trip to the recovery room. I didn’t even realize they were still with me, I thought they went with my husband. I was vehemently opposed to holding them, as I was totally numb and thought I would drop them! All three of us met up with my hubby and went to recovery. My parents, MIL and aunt were there to meet the babies. They all held the kids before I did, as I was still in shock, couldn’t feel my arms and didn’t feel ready to hold them. I was so focused on the trauma my body had just gone through, that I felt somewhat removed from the situation.

The nurses asked me if I want to try breast feeding, which I did, but we sorta had to prod my family to leave first! The rest of the first day is a blur. I know I felt like crap, wanted to vomit and had hot flashes. I know that I was overwhelmed that I had to start nursing the kids so quickly. After carrying them for 39 weeks, I was ready to share the workload withsomeone else! I was in bed until the next morning, with an IV in each hand and a catheter. I was on Vicodin and motrin once the IV drugs wore off. I had to remember when to ask for them, and that was hard to do. I was able to hold down some liquids the next morning, which meant frequent trips out of bed to the bathroom. There were some near-fainting episodes, but hour by hour, I felt better than the hour before. The very worst after effect of the c-section was the gas pain. My stomach sounded like it was giving off sonar-pings, and the air was moving so strongly that if I placed my hand on my stomach, it felt like there was another full-term baby kicking in there. I actually wondered for a while, if there was a third baby in there!

The kids roomed in with us, but I did send them to the nursery at night. I was so exhausted, and each mew and yawn they would make would keep me up. Unfortunatly, I was too keyed up and uncomfortable to sleep, so when we were discharged on the 3rd day, I was pretty exhausted.

We were so very blessed that our children were so healthy. The never needed oxygen, or intervention of any kind. They had no health concerns, and never left our side. I was intensely aware of how wonderfully the pregnancy and delievery had gone, and every day I am thankful that they are growing up to be strong and healthy children.

The only complication the kids have, is mild developmental dysplasia of the hip. Ironically, this was caused by their extreem lack of space in the womb!

In retrospect, I think I expected to be more emotional about their birth, like the women on TV who cry when they first see their children being born. But for me, I truly think I was in shock, and could only process so much at a time. I fondly look at their newborn pictures and video, and wish I could remember more of those first few days, but on the other hand, I have had a whole year of images and moments to fill my heart to overflowing. The birth was just the starting point of our lives together, and what a good life it is.

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