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I originally wrote this when the kids were 8 months old and I was still trying to process it all. This post may be a tough one for anyone who has dealt with preterm labor, babies in the NICU, and/or pregnancy and infant loss. If you are not in the right space, I apologize, but please do not read this one.
Today is their fifth birthday and I finally felt like I could read this again and share with others. Happy 5th Birthday, Baby A and Baby B!
I cannot believe it has been 8 months that our two little joys have been with us! The time has absolutely flown by and yet, I am still dealing with so many mixed emotions.
We decided around the holidays in 2011 that we would start trying early the next year to get pregnant. We thought with my age, 31 at the time, it would take us awhile to get pregnant. Little did we know we would be blessed with a positive test the VERY first month we tried. I was immediately ill and while I did not put on weight, I had to go maternity clothes shopping at 7 weeks. I could not believe our good luck to get pregnant so fast and felt like a fraud in the store trying on maternity pants that day. (Side note, maternity pants are the most comfy pants in the WORLD!)
My OBGYN scheduled an ultrasound at around 8 weeks. I am a reader and once I am interested in a subject, I read anything I can get my hands on. I over research online and did way too much of that while pregnant. I was convinced at the ultrasound there would not be a heartbeat. When the Tech started the scan, she said, “Huh….” I immediately started to cry and thought something was wrong. She kept looking and I desperately asked her what was wrong. She asked, “Were you expecting twins?” WT….? Twins? A bf of mine and Rob both joked that it was twins, but I did not really think that would be possible. I told the Tech, “Ummm, no way! I thought the two blobs on the screen where there because it was a mirror image.” She laughed and said, “Let’s look for three”. I thought Rob was going to pass out. My initial worry about not finding a heartbeat was replaced with joy that there was a very strong heartbeat. Oh wait, 2 really strong heartbeats! Then the worry and fear set in. My due date was October 25th and we settled in for 8 more months of growing some babies.
I, of course, started to research everything I could about twins and twin pregnancy. I found a term that haunted me for many months, Vanishing Twin Syndrome. It is as it sounds, one twin does not survive and is basically absorbed by the placenta and the other twin. While I was overwhelmed with the thought of two, once I heard those heartbeats I could not bear the thought of losing one of those gummy bears. Most things I read mentioned bed rest, preterm labor, NICU stays for the babies, and numerous scary conditions for preemies: IVH, PDA, ROP, Vent for breathing…. the list went on and on. I tried to not Dr. Google, but if you know me, you know that is impossible.
Other than my constant worry about the babies and their health, logistics of two at one time, and having extreme morning sickness; my pregnancy was progressing nicely. (Side note, morning sickness is a LIE! I was sick all day and all night. I had to take medicine to be able to keep any food down. Smells and even the thought of certain foods made me ill. I threw up in almost every public rest room from my house to Denver and back. Not to mention my house, my office, and car. Not my finest moments. I had to keep a bag and wipes on me at all time. Maybe this was getting me ready for motherhood and all of the gear I have to keep with us at all times….)
I was working full-time and still traveling for a job that I was so lucky to start only a year prior. We had started construction on our basement and were enjoying getting ready for the babies. I was beyond tired and sore and had constant worry about the babies. Everything I did or did not do, I worried about all the time. I worried about nail polish, deli meat, paint fumes, eating pineapple, and the list went on and on. It was exhausting and Rob did an amazing job of humoring me. I just wanted to do whatever it took to keep my littles safe and sound.
When I first felt them move, it was the best feeling in the world. That joyous moment started a whole new round of worrying though. Anytime I wasn’t feeling them, I was worried they were not okay. If I felt them too much, I worried something had them riled up and that something was wrong. I tried not to freak out and worry, but it had become my new normal. Even though I tried to keep the crazy in, I probably (okay, most definitely) drove my friends and Rob crazy with the constant worry and fears.
Around 26 weeks I started to not feel so good and was having lots of cramping. We went to my normally scheduled appointment with my OBGYN and he said what I was experiencing was contractions. Everything I had read let me down! I was not feeling the contractions the way I had read I would feel so I did not realize that was what was happening. My Dr. put the fear of God in Rob and I and said to go to the hospital if I had so many contractions in a certain time frame. This was the start of me going into preterm labor. The very next day, I ended up in the hospital.
I was put in the hospital on bed rest, that time, for over a week. After months of not taking any medicine or pills for fear of how that would affect the babies, I was put on many different medications to try and stop the contractions and from going into full blown labor. We were given steroids to help their lung development. Every day they stayed put was a victory. We had a board in my room that counted up every day…. 26 weeks 1 day, 26 weeks 2 days….. Every day that went by I became more and more uncomfortable and the constant contractions and pain became unbearable. The medicines I was on gave me horrible migraine like headaches. I tried not to read anything, but I knew every day if the babies were born what development they would have missed out on by not staying in the womb. Our first goal was to make it to 28 weeks.
Rob had to work during the day and I just laid in bed and tried not to worry. He stayed with me every night and slept on, what I am sure, was the most uncomfortable sofa bed. He brought me anything I wanted and tried to cheer me up any way he could. He also brought himself and the doctors lots of junk food! One doc really loved coming to our room to raid Rob’s stash. I, however, still was not crazy about food unless it was strawberries, watermelon, or sometimes a burger with peanut butter on it. Our employers were so understanding and let Rob be available to me anytime.
I felt, and at this time I still feel guilty, but I started to really want to have the babies. The pain was too much and I was so worried that something was wrong with the babies and that is why they wanted out. I started to worry about them being stillborn or what if they were never “normal” (not that I had any clue what normal would be with preemies).
We made it to 28 weeks and I could go home, but had to continue to remain on bed rest. I sat/laid on the couch every day and I am sure, by now, you can only imagine my state. I wasn’t sleeping much and had trouble eating, too. Nothing else mattered to me besides growing those babies.
After a week at home, I ended up back in the hospital. I could barely walk and breathe by this point. Baby B was hanging out in my ribs and Baby A was constantly punching me in the junk. I could not believe two little ones could cause so much pain!
August 19th was a day that should have been the happiest of my life and instead became the scariest. I woke up in the middle of the night to try and plod my way to the bathroom. I unhooked the gazillion cords attached to me and made my way to the restroom. I settled back in bed best I could, hooked myself back up, and tried to sleep. A short while later, I woke up by a feeling of a pop and a rush of water. My first thought was that I either peed myself (hoping I had) or my water had broken (and I was going to lose the babies). I could not remember the number for the nurse and woke up Rob to have him turn the light on. He woke up confused and asked, “Why?”. I just said I needed to call the nurse. He popped out of bed and was worried as to why. I told him I hoped that I had just peed the bed. He kept pacing back and forth in front of my bed and I had to, not so gently, ask him to turn the light on.
I called the nurse and relayed my news. She came right in and said hopefully it was a false alarm. I had never hoped I had peed my bed like at that moment. (I do not ever recall another time in my life I had hoped I had peed my bed though.) She pulled back my sheets and I swear it was Niagara Falls. She said she was sure it was my waters (no idea why that is plural), but she had to do a test to check. I had to maneuver my big belly around for her to test and within seconds it was clear to all of us. The babies had broken their waters. I started to cry and tried not to completely come unglued. I was devastated for all that wasn’t, and for all that might be, in the future.
We might have kept the babies in, but within minutes I went from a 2-3 dilation to a 5+. It was go time. Due to their size and position, I was to have a C-Section. Baby A was breech (feet first) and Baby B was transverse (sideways). They dressed Rob in a jumpsuit and took me into the operating room.
I just remember shaking and trying not to cry. Within minutes Baby A was out and they brought her to the corner to meet her team of doctors and nurses. I did not immediately hear her cry and was scared out of my mind. Rob went to meet her and took many pictures. He can back and told me she was breathing and looked amazing. Baby B came out two minutes later (after trying to stay in my ribs) and was taken to meet his team. I had to lie on the table and try and see what I could while they put me back together. Rob was going back and forth between the two babies and had the biggest smile on his face. He was overjoyed and all I could feel was terrified.
I heard them cry and felt a tiny bit of relief. Rob got to cut their cords and hang out with them while they were assessed. Zane, Baby B, was put onto C-Pap and Rob could bring him to meet me. I got to kiss him and Rob carried him to the NICU. Ella, Baby A, needed more help breathing. She was put on a vent and on her way to the NICU, they brought her to me so I could meet my daughter and give her a kiss.
I felt so empty lying on the table while my family was taken away. I felt comfort knowing Rob was with them, but I felt I should be with them, too. I had no idea what we were facing, but I was thankful to have met my kiddos.