Today is World Prematurity Day and this post is to honor my preemies. Like i’ve said previously, they were born at 34 weeks, which is a “normal” ish time for twins to be born but in reality it’s stil 6 weeks, a month and a half early. Those extra 6 weeks could have given them more time to grow, if they were to have reached full term, and they probably would be normal sized kids right now. We, they, were fortunate to be born breathing on their own with minimal complications but that still doesn’t take away from them coming early. I had never heard of the March of Dimes before my experience but they were there to provide support through information and donations of clothes.
I have never really written about my experience, mainly to avoid opening up old wounds and to avoid tears (like what are happening now) because I like to live in the present vs. the past, but I think it’s important to tell it so I can get it out there. We had originally scheduled my c-section date at 37 weeks, 3 days because we wanted to give them as much time in there as possible. At the moment, I didn’t fully comprehend why my Drs wanted to wait so long since the norm to deliver identicals is at 36 weeks to avoid any complications and I found myself hoping they’d come early to avoid anything like that. Well, my hope soon turned into a fast reality. I woke up the morning I ventured into my 33rd week to feeling like a bubble was coming out of me. I immediately thought “omg, a foot is coming out of my vagina!” and ran to the bathroom. As soon as I crossed that threshold into the bathroom, liquid started to drip down my leg and after pulling off everything, sitting on the toilet, a good size gush came out. I knew right away my water had broke. A couple days before after getting a pedicure with some of my old co workers, I found a small hint of blood when I wiped after going to the bathroom but since it was just that one time, I ignored it and figured it was just a normal thing. That’s when my mucous plug started to come out.
Being a FTM I was still in denial if this really was amniotic fluid, liquidy vaginal discharge or pee so I did what any rational person would do. I reached down there, wiped with my bare hand and smelled it. Yup, it was amniotic fluid, I know that because after reading up on it and seeing posts from other moms that it has a sweet smell to it. I think I sat there for a few minutes with a few emotions flowing through: 1. excitement 2. panic 3.doom. Once it had settled in I remember thinking “oh shit, my water broke! Yaaaa………shit i’m only 33 weeks!! Omg, I don’t have anything packed for the hospital! Am I going to go into labor right now?!!!”. I patted down my underware, got up and woke Dan up. “Dan, wake up! Dan, my water broke!!!”, he was in a dead sleep so it took him a couple of seconds to realize what I had said. I could feel my hands shaking and called the on call Dr. He said to go to L&D right away so I threw a hospital bag together quickly and we were on our way. Once we got to the hospital we went to triage and I got hooked up to the monitors, she checked to make sure it was amniotic fluid and we were moved into a room. Since i was only 33 weeks they gave me the steroid shot to help develop their lungs, hooked me up to an IV and tried to stop labor. I can’t remember exactly when I saw the Dr but she said they were going to try and stop labor and keep them in for at least another week if possible but I was going to be staying at the hospital until such time.
I ended up staying in the hospital for a week, on strict bed rest, pumped full of liquids, told to empty my bladder out as soon as I had the urge to pee and let them know if I was still leaking, which I was. After that week of ultrasounds, trips to the MFM to monitor fluid levels, taking antibiotics to avoid infection and pretty much fighting with an OB about whether my water ruptured or not, I made the final decision to take them out at 34 weeks. Although they could have potentially stayed in longer since Baby A’s fluid wasn’t too bad, I was swollen to the size of a watermelon, the MFM suggested he would take them out and I couldn’t live with myself if an infection developed and harmed my boys.
On 8/4/12, at 9:49am baby A (Evan) was born, followed by baby B (Liam) at 9:50am. I was able to kiss each on the forehead before they were taken away. Once I woke up from the surgery (they had to knock me out due to some breathing issue) I wasn’t able to see them for a few hours. It really felt like a day almost but I had to wake up, eat something and regain feeling in my legs before the nurse was able to wheel me over to the NICU. Dan was in the NICU taking pictures and spending a little time with them while I was knocked out and he showed me some pictures, I was in shock and awe. They looked big in the pictures! I didn’t even think they looked small at all and was surprised at their weights, Evan was 4lbs, 7oz and Liam weighed in at 4lbs, 13oz. Once I was was being wheeled over to the NICU I was so excited to see my boys, it was such a strange feeling to go from pregnant to empty inside in a matter of a few hours but even stranger because I couldn’t look upon the fruits of my labor.
Seeing my boys
Once I was wheeled into the NICU the nurses told me to wash up at least. I remember sitting there washing my hands, my husband walked over to where they were at and I was leaning over trying to take a peak at where they were. She wheeled me over to them once I was finished and parked me right in the middle of them. Once I saw how tiny they really were I just cried, even now just remembering that scene, I couldn’t help but just cry. I felt like it was my fault they were hooked up to these machines but happy I could finally look at my babies. I was looking Evan over first while Dan was with Liam and he looked just perfect, perfectly shaped, perfect hands and feet and he was just PERFECT. I rolled myself over to look at Liam, feeling bad for leaving Evan and cried again because Liam had to have an IV inserted into his scalp since his veins were so tiny. They were both fast asleep, just laying there peacefully while I sat there and cried, still in a daze of disbelief, sadness and just felt so helpless. The nurse came over with a tissue and began to talk about the boys to me. Thankfully they were breathing on their own so no oxygen was needed and after their Pediatrician looked them over, she said they were healthy boys, just premature so they would need to stay there until at least 35 weeks. If everything continued to go well, they gained weight and were feeding fine they could come home! We left after about a half hour or so, I was just feeling out of it and felt so helpless to be in there with them but I also knew I need to start pumping to get milk to them ASAP. For the next 2 days I saw them every couple of hours, I was back and forth between my room pumping, resting and trying to have everything sink in. The day we left the hospital was rough, needless to say but I knew they had to stay to get better and provide care for them that I just couldn’t do at that time. I continued to go back and forth from the hospital to home but slowly I stopped going as often since I was feeling tired and depressed. I remember crying nearly every single day, multiple times a day and having those emotions just drag me down. To go to the hospital with two babies inside of you only to leave having none of them with you is the worst feeling i’ve ever experienced. It’s a surreal yet gut wrenching feeling and I just spent those weeks crying because my babies weren’t at home with me. I remember reading online about how others who had theirs around that time were home snuggling, kissing and complaining about theirs just made me yearn for mine. I felt anger and resentment to those who complained about anything related to their newborns, I felt such envy because I wasn’t able to experience a normal full term pregnancy and now, I had no newborns. The next couple of weeks the boys ate what milk I was able to pump but since it wasn’t enough for both, they had to supplement and slowly they started to gain weight.
The days seemed like weeks and my reality of it all felt dark, gloomy and just very emotional. I remember my husband trying to comfort me at times, along with my mother, saying that they were better off at the hospital. While I knew in my mind this was true, it made me cry even more because I knew they belonged at home with me, they needed me, I could take care of them. It felt like no one truly knew how I felt, and they didn’t, but I felt withdrawn and distant from them. I reached out to other preemie moms and soon realized everything I was feeling was normal because they were going through the same things. It was nice to know I wasn’t the only one, even though I knew I wasn’t because I had been talking with the other moms in their NICU about it. One couple had been in the hospital for a month already, their boy was born at 24 weeks and was slowly growing. During our time there were about 3 other babies and their son was the only one still in there when we had left. I remember looking at him and thinking how lucky my boys were, even that baby because they were being taken care of in the NICU by those awesome nurses. Slowly I started to feel grateful they were there and they had nurses and Drs around 24/7.
Evan was discharged 2 weeks later followed by Liam at 3 weeks. It’s funny how I had waited for that moment for what seemed like an eternity but once the day came to take them home, I became scared. They had been away from me for 2 and 3 weeks and I wasn’t sure if I could do it without their help. Once we came home it was great, hectic, but great. I finally felt complete, I finally felt like a mom. Leaving one behind at the hospital and having the other home was still an adjustment but it was a far cry from having no babies in the house. Luckily my mom had flown in to help out so she was able to watch Evan while I went to the hospital to see Liam. We had a rough couple of days and nights, the boys had reflux issues so I was terrified of choking, breastfeeding was very rough and I mainly resorted to pumping because they never did latch correctly. Through the adjustments and hard times things slowly got better and the boys have grown into what they are today. I can never fully put into words the emotions that I felt during those weeks but I can say now, when I see pictures of parents in the NICU with their babies, I have a new found appreciation for their strength and that baby’s fight to stay alive. My boys gave me the gift of being their mother and i’m blessed in so many ways to have my miracle babies. They made it from the splitting of the egg, to me carrying them in my womb for as long as possible to being there as they grew in the NICU. I love my fighters and am so blessed to call them mine.