I want to start this off by saying, the girls birth was not magical. I wouldn’t even say seeing them for the first time was (especially since that was at 2am, on drugs, while Jay was in the NICU facetiming me). But I’m getting ahead of myself. Now that we are out of the woods, and all of this feels like a distant memory, I thought I would share our birth story…
We found out we were having twins at my first doctor’s appointment. I was 8 weeks along and there they were, two little black dots. I had no idea what the nurse was showing me, and was in shock for probably a full 2 weeks after. If you google anything about early twin pregnancy (don’t!) it basically says you will be lucky if they make it and one will probably disappear, it’s terrifying. But we made it! I wasn’t sick, I was tired, but otherwise feeling really great. There were some weird pregnancy things going on, but nothing alarming or really that odd.
Since there were two, we had to go into Boston (an hour with traffic) every week for an ultrasound and appointment with the high risk office. This was intense, and each week brought with it a new worry. Everly (Baby 1 at the time) was smaller, significantly. But each week they grew, and even if it was only a little, everyone was growing! Then at week 32, my blood pressure started creeping up, slowly but surely. The doctor sent me home to do a 24 hour urine test starting Tuesday morning.
So here I am, collecting all this pee (gross sorry!), and starting to feel, just, off. When we first found out about there being two, the biggest worry I had was how could my body do it? I couldn’t imagine sustaining one baby let alone two in my body. And at 33 weeks pregnant, HUGE (everything was huge, my legs, ankles, face…everything), I finally was feeling that my body couldn’t do this much longer.
Right, so it is now Wednesday morning, and it is my last collection of the 24 hours around 6am. I go downstairs, do my thing, and come back up to get in bed for a little bit. I sit down in bed and Bam(!), I think my bladder has finally had it with the pressure, but no, after about 10 seconds I realize it’s my water breaking. So of course I scream “JAY!”. I call the doctor, email my boss, call my parents, and we are off to the hospital to see what is going on.
When we get to the hospital, I got checked in and immediately my blood pressure was being monitored…and it was high, and going up. At this point all the doctors (and their teams of students, so many people constantly in my room) weren’t sure if I was even going to deliver that day, and with the girls being only 33 weeks they wanted to keep them in as long as possible. After a move upstairs to L&D, and a quick blood test, they were positive, the babies were coming that day.
I started having contractions (which were horrible, of course) and then at 3:00pm we were on our way to have the c-section. The c-section was probably the easiest part of all of this. You can’t feel a thing, except some bizarre tugging, plus there are doctors all over telling you everything is going great. And then, 3:26 there comes Baby 1, and 3:27 Baby 2. Everyone kept asking us their names and we had no idea still (at this point they were potentially Penelope and Beatrix. for real.).
The girls each had their own team of pediatricians and nurses in the delivery room, and I only saw them for less than 1 second before they were rushed off and down to the NICU. In the meantime, I am getting put back together while trying to figure out names with Jay. I’m so drugged up at this point I have no idea how bad the incisions were about to feel in a few hours.
When we get back to the L&D room, I was put on magnesium to make sure I didn’t have a stroke. My BP was 190/110, and all the doctors were calm but concerned. Anyone who has ever been on magnesium knows what this is like, but it is the absolute worst. It gets worse the longer you are on it, and feels like the most horrible hangover ever. You can’t see straight or focus, your head feels like a million pounds, and nothing is exactly clear that is going on around you. On top of all this there are teams of doctors coming in and out, my bp being constantly monitored, the pain medication they gave me didn’t work (thank god for the nurse who finally got the doctor to give me something different), and worst of all, worse than any pain or fear of what was going on with my body was, I couldn’t see the girls.
Finally sometime in the middle of the night Jay was able to go down to the NICU and facetime me so I could see our, still nameless, babies (the names were finally decided sometime in the middle of the night). And then around 3am, I was brought down to the NICU to see my little babies (only 3lbs) in containers where I could only touch there little hands for a second through a hole.
The days that followed were equally as intense. My BP wasn’t dropping so I was put on round the clock medications and IVs. I was draining all the fluid from my body (10 liters in 12 hours), I had to pump every 3 hours to send whatever I could get down to the NICU for the girls, and I couldn’t sit/stand/walk for days.
We did manage to get down to the NICU each day to see the girls, which had its own difficulties. I wanted to be with them so badly, to have them in my room, to breastfeed them like everyone else gets to with their newborns, but none of that was going to be our experience.
After my hospital stay it wasn’t much easier at home. I had to have visiting nurse service come every day to take my BP. I was re-admitted to the hospital after being home for 4 days for my eclampsia on the same day the girls were scheduled to be transferred to a hospital closer to our new house (yea, we moved 3 weeks before this!). But without fail, Jay and I got up and drove 45 minutes to the NICU to see those girls each and every day.
At this point I was still on a ton of medication…pain meds, 3 blood pressure meds, and meds to drain the fluid. And of course, waking up every 3 hours still to pump. Each day I would have a mini (yea, not mini, massive) breakdown about not having the girls home. Not having them with us was so difficult and went against every single instinct my body was telling me.
The NICU though, was amazing. The care and compassion of the nurses there is an experience that can’t be matched. They walked us through everything, took the best care of our girls, gave us reports every day on the phone before we came in, and constantly made us feel we were doing the best job we could. When the girls were first brought down to the NICU we were told they most likely would be there until their true due date (8/22) which would be almost 2 months later….
But those babie are troopers! After a little over 3 weeks, we had Vanessa home, and a few days later we had Everly (she had to get to 4lbs). Not to say everything was a walk in the park, but having them home with us was so exciting I didn’t mind any of it. The girls were on a 3 hour schedule and since they were so small that meant waking them in the middle of the night (3,6,9,12,3,6,9,12 – all day everyday) to eat.
Meanwhile, my bp was still pretty crazy. I had doctors’ appointments constantly to check it and was on medication until just a few weeks ago! I still have to home monitor, but it is nothing like it was in the beginning, and neither are those babies! When the girls came home, all skin and bones, it was hard to imagine them getting bigger or filling out…and now, 6 months later, we have two growing, thriving, giggly, rolling, happy babies, who are the greatest people I’ve ever met.
We have pictures of them from the NICU on the fridge that both Jay and I look at in disbelief of who they were when they came into this world, and the circumstances we all found ourselves in. I think the thing I feel most looking at those pictures is thankful. Thankful for Jay who was there for me in ways I couldn’t imagine needing him, thankful for the doctors who took care of not only my girls but me, thankful for our family who was there for both of us, and mostly thankful to see those little faces every day home, healthy, and loved.
Xo – J