Not How I’d Planned Things to Go: A & B’s Birth Story

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Categories Birth Order, NICU, Prematurity, Theme WeekTags

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.

In January, my fraternal twin girls will turn five. I’ve been blogging for almost four years now, and I have published 951 posts.  Not once have I written the girls’ birth story.

It’s not that I want to forget, exactly…but remembering can be pretty painful.

And as soon as I say that, I feel pretty silly. My girls were born at 34 weeks, and “only” spent 10 days in the NICU. The gift of time and perspective on my side, I realize we were very, very lucky. But it didn’t seem that way the first couple of weeks of January 2009.

I had a very healthy, uneventful pregnancy.

I’m a Type A personality. I took every one of my doctor’s words to heart. I religiously followed the advice in the number of pregnancy books I read. My doctor wanted me to deliver at 37 weeks, and that’s exactly what I planned to do.

I also had a very even-keeled pregnancy. I was just so happy! There were times I felt a little queasy, and times when I was more tired than usual, but I welcomed those signs of pregnancy with a big smile on my face. I always kept my emotions in check, believing that the babies felt what I was feeling. I never wanted them to feel stressed, or sad, and that definitely contributed to my attitude.

The one exception to my joyful glow came after my husband and I took a prenatal class at our hospital, specifically geared towards twins and more. As part of the class, we toured the NICU. I came home that night and broke down. Seeing those tiny babies with tubes and wires, amid the beeping of machines and the sterility of the environment…I couldn’t get it out of my head.

No, that wouldn’t be me. I was going to give birth at 37 weeks. My husband and dad would be there for the big day. I’d have my best friends come to meet the girls in the hospital. We would all come home together three days later.

Fast forward to Friday evening, January 2, when I couldn’t calm what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions by lying on my side and drinking gallons of water. I told my husband I was sure it was nothing, but maybe we should go to the hospital, just in case.

I went in and was monitored for a couple of hours. My contractions subsided, and I was told to follow-up with my doctor on Monday. My doctor didn’t hold office hours on Monday, so I had an appointment with him first thing Tuesday morning. On Monday night, the contractions came back, and I shrugged to my husband, telling him we should probably go in again…but 100% expecting to have the same outcome as a few days prior.

I was in total shock when, after being checked a couple of times, the on-call doctor said, “We’re about to have some babies!

What??? Can’t you stop it?!!! You have to stop it!!!

I am not a hysterical person. As a business professional, I am known for my calm, assess-the-situation-and-decide-upon-the-best-course-of-action approach.

But I was nothing short of hysterical that night.

I remember shaking uncontrollably, crying out…while what seemed like teams of people buzzed around me in perfect harmony, as if this kind of thing happened every day.

And maybe it does.

But I didn’t intend for it to happen to me.

My girls were delivered uneventfully via c-section at 9:47 and 9:49 that Monday evening, at 34 weeks gestation. 0109 Miscellaneous 053

After the girls were born, I was in an absolute state of denial. I know this sounds cliché, but it was so true for me…there was some part of me that fully expected to wake up and still be pregnant…to reach down and still feel my precious girls kicking underneath my shirt. It took a long time…several weeks…before I came to terms that they were here, and there was no going back.

The girls spent 10 days in the NICU with only minor interventions. They came home and we picked up more or less where we would have if they’d been born closer to full-term.

I feel like this shouldn’t be a painful memory for me…just focus on the outcome, right?…but it is. Thankfully, almost five years in, time brings perspective. Writing this post is one more step in moving forward. I’m not sure I could have gotten through this in black and white a couple of years ago. I’m thankful now that I can.

MandyE blogs at Twin Trials and Triumphs.  She focuses on the many adventures she enjoys with her fraternal twin girls.

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MandyE is the mother of 4 ½-year old fraternal twin girls, Baby A and Baby B. (And yes, their names actually start with the letters A and B!) She worked in the marketing field for nine years before her girls were born, but these days she’s relishing the opportunity to be a SAHM, which she plans to continue until the girls start kindergarten. MandyE has been blogging at Twin Trials and Triumphs since her girls were a year old. Between her blog and her local Mothers of Multiples group, she considers the multiples community a huge part of her support system.

5 thoughts on “Not How I’d Planned Things to Go: A & B’s Birth Story”

  1. Sadly, we have no control over certain things. I can defineitly relate to your difficulty dealing with the ‘change in plans’. I guess we really have to listen to the cliches sometimes. “Enjoy every second of it” is something I tell all my pregnant friends, now, as it’s something I won’t get to experience ever again, and I loved feeling my little ones inside my belly until the very end (not that I ever took a second for granted, but I just truly miss it!) I want others deep in the experience to hit the brakes, slow down, sit back and enjoy all the little wonders pregnancy because it is over all too soon!

  2. I have so many of the same feelings towards my daughters’ birth. I realized that I had to grieve the birth we didn’t get to share as a loss in its own right even as I was celebrating the arrival of my daughters. That mommy guilt starts early, doesn’t it? Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    There’s this great TED talk where the speaker says, “There is no harder. There’s just hard.” It’s not about whether mom with micro preemies have it harder or 10 days in the NICU is less than 67. Hard is hard, and A and B’s birth was hard.

  3. Sweet Mandy. Thank you for sharing your story. It was a brave and courageous thing to put it all down on paper. I appreciate your vulnerability of sharing your pain here. WIth NICU time there’s much to grieve, because it’s not the warm-snuggly-cuddling-my-babies experience you dreamed in your head—it’s okay to grieve expectations, and to grieve your hopes and dreams of what you had envisioned. I still have sad moments sometimes, especially when we have to go back to that same hospital to see Hadley’s pulmonologist. Lately I’ve been trying to own my feelings, and, rather than apologize for them, because they might not make sense to everyone, I’ve been trying to just sit with them, and process them. I’m proud of you for owning the grief, along with the very great joy that A & B are in your life. :)

  4. Thank you for this honest post. When I think of the birth of my (healthy, 38-week) twins, I feel nothing but anger and sadness. It’s been a year, I really need to let it go. But birth is a huge moment for the mother, and I think it’s appropriate to recognize that it can be traumatic for a variety of reasons. Of course the babies’ lives and health are the most important things – but the mother matters too.

  5. Thank you all for reading and for helping me to justify these feelings. It’s a bit surreal…almost five years in, and never having shared this…but I am deeply appreciative of your words.

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